Known as Authorship Investigate, the software uses forensic linguistic analysis and natural language processing to help investigate differences in written work. It also aids in collecting evidence to look into potential cases of contract cheating.
A statement from Turnitin pointed out that about 6% of Australian students had confessed to contract cheating.
Additionally, 15% said they had bought, sold or traded notes, and 27% had shared completed assignments.
Asked about the licensing and price of the software, Anna Borek, Academic Partnerships manager at Turnitin, said the Authorship Investigate licence was based on a named user model and the price would depend on the institutional requirements. "The platform itself is cloud-based – all you need is an Internet browser in order to use it," she added.
Borek also outlined the way the software worked. "Authorship Investigate efficiently provides data-driven insights into whether students are doing their own work, enabling you to uphold your institution’s commitment to educational excellence. When suspicions of contract cheating are raised, Authorship Investigate helps investigators quickly gather facts, collate information, and make impartial judgments.
"The instantly generated Authorship Report organises document metadata, analyses readability scores, and compares the depth and breadth of vocabulary in the student’s work. A top-level summary saves the investigator time by quickly identifying differences and potential issues in suspicious student submissions.
"It is important to note that an investigator ultimately decides if they want to look further into a paper. Authorship Investigate does not make a determination of authorship; it is a tool to help streamline the investigation process."
“The Authorship Investigate tool has been invaluable as a means for collecting material to pursue cases associated with academic integrity,” said Dr Nick Milne, senior lecturer in the School of Engineering at Deakin University.
“It has helped save time in preparing evidence and helped me to get through the complexity of cross-school and cross-faculty investigations. The analytical features have helped me in determining whether there was a case to be pursued and where to focus my investigatory efforts.”
“After years of development and testing, we’re thrilled to bring Authorship Investigate to the higher education market,” said Turnitin chief executive Chris Caren.
“We hope that broad adoption of this tool will not only help institutions efficiently investigate whether students are doing their own work, but will also bring visibility to the problem of contract cheating.”