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New Website, www.plagiarism.org, offers professors help in identifying cheaters

Through the Website www.plagiarism.org, professors can now detect a plagiarized paper in seconds without reading one sentence.

The site reads thousands of uploaded student papers per day, comparing them to 800 million Webpages and an additional database of 50,000 previously-reviewed papers. Plagiarized sections are then highlighted and their sources noted.

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Professors at the University of California at Berkeley and hundreds of other universities have used the site, according to Plagiarism.org. Professors and students reacted yesterday to the potential for Princeton professors to use the site and its possible implications for the University's honor code.

Daniel Kahane '01, a religion major, said he believes that for professors to check student papers on the site without reason to suspect they were copied "would show a great deal of distrust."

Kahane also said that if professors allow students to take tests alone, they should not hunt for plagiarism in papers.

Physics professor Edward Groth, a member of the Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline, which has jurisdiction over suspected plagiarism in papers, said he does not believe that professors would use the Website without evidence that a student had cheated.

"Professors like to treat the students as equals. It saves them work to do that," he said, adding that a professor can work in his office while the class takes a test. Groth continued, however, that if the style of a student's paper does not mimic the student's usual writing style, a professor would not be wrong in consulting Plagiarism.org.

History department chair Philip Nord said the advanced state of cheating today is "not a happy circumstance." The fact that teachers must use current technology to keep track of students' morality is a "sad commentary," he added.

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Nord said he did not believe using Plagiarism.org would be immoral, adding that professors who find an easier way to prove plagiarism in a paper are better off.

To use Plagiarism.org, professors have to pay a small fee of $1 per paper to the site. Groth said the University would probably fund an investigation on Plagiarism.org if a professor had evidence that the student had committed plagiarism.

According to the Website, many papers that students plagiarize come from "paper mills" on the Internet. Thousands of students log onto sites like www.SchoolSucks.com, www.PhreePapers.com and www.Cheathouse.com.

A Rutgers University study of 16,000 students found that 66 percent of students have cheated and that 12 percent cheat regularly, according to the Plagiarism.org's Website.Plagiarism.org's site noted that cheating "rarely involves the direct copying of books or encyclopedias," but rather more often occurs when students plagiarize from the Internet.

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