The Daily Gamecock

WriteCheck verifies originality of students' work

Website runs papers through database for plagiarism

This article is 100 percent not plagiarized.

And for a fee, it could be run through a database consisting of billions of Web pages, millions of academic papers and tens of thousands of media publications and articles in order to verify its originality.

Students can do the same for school essays using Developed by the same parent company as the widely used, a site by which instructors can verify the originality of their students' work, WriteCheck claims to help students avoid unintentional plagiarism, while also offering spelling, grammar and style suggestions.

WriteCheck scans students' submissions through the same database as Turnitin, and using "pattern recognition" technology, it provides users with a report that includes a "Similarity Score," which shows the percentage of similarity between a student's submission and the sources in the Turnitin database.

Though WriteCheck professes academic integrity as its goal, the site's purpose and abilities have raised some ethical questions. While some users may utilize the WriteCheck resource to avoid unintentional plagiarism, in accordance with the site's stated mission, critics say WriteCheck could also allow students the opportunity to cover up intentional plagiarism.

Journalism professor Richard Moore said that the ethics of using the site depend on the user's intent.

"If you use the site as a resource, not having the intention of circumventing academic honesty, then yeah, it's OK," Moore said. "If you have an assignment and you can't do your own original work, no website in the world can save you from your consequences."

Kelly Eifert, director of the Office of Academic Integrity, said WriteCheck, "like any software that is available ... may be used inappropriately."

She urged USC students to take advantage of the resources offered on campus to improve their writing and to ensure their academic integrity.

"I think there are very good, free services for students on campus already who may struggle with their writing or even struggle with citation," Eifert said. "The Writing Center is available for that kind of help, as are the students' professors.

"Academic integrity is at the heart of education. I would encourage students to uphold the tenets of the Carolinian Creed and utilize the many free resources that are available to them on campus to help them be successful students here at Carolina."

Many students at USC were unfamiliar with WriteCheck when asked. First-year pre-pharmacy student Mary Beth King said some of her high school teachers had used Turnitin, but she had never heard of WriteCheck.

"It would be cool to do it just to see if any of your unplagiarized work came up as [accidentally] plagiarized," King said. "But I wouldn't pay for it."

And WriteCheck's plagiarism prevention does comes with a price tag. Users must purchase "credits" for their submissions. The site offers single paper credits for $6.95, good for the submission of one paper of up to 5,000 words and up to three resubmissions of the same paper. Users also have the option of the $24.95 "Basic Package" and five paper credits, or the "Volume Package," worth $59.95 and 20 paper credits, each of which also includes three resubmissions per document.

"You might as well just write the paper instead of going through all that just to make it not look plagiarized," King said.