Objections to Turnitin

We should be jumping for joy every time a student plagiarizes, because that means our existence as teachers of composition is validated, as we have something to teach them – citation, research, the need for critical thinking. We should get down on our knees and thank the Internet for making it easier to plagiarize, because it means we will be employed for the foreseeable future, stemming the metaphorical digital tide. We should be eternally glad that plagiarism is seen as a problem that needs fixing, because if all incoming students cited their sources fairly and accurately and did clever research out of the box, then there wouldn’t be much for us to do. We should leap to the opportunity to teach here. Plagiarism is a blessing, not a curse. —Mike DuncanObjections to Turnitin (Bad Rhetoric)

Plagiarism as the felix culpa of rhetcomp. I’m not very comfortable with the idea, but it did make me think.

I do use the service… recently I noticed a suspicious paragraph, and when I used turnitin.com to print out the documentation in support of the wrist-slapping I was planning to implement, I found four or five other uncited paragraphs from the same source — something I wouldn’t have caught otherwise.

I tell myself that this student has learned an important lesson, and that it’s a good thing I caught this problem early, on an assignment that wasn’t worth 1/3 of the course grade.