Abstract #479

# 479
SafeAssign as a tool for student identification of potential plagiarism.
Sarah A. Reed*1, 1Department of Animal Science, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT.

As writing across the curriculum becomes more common in higher education, the need for instruction about plagiarism is growing. Several plagiarism detection technologies identify matching text in student writing and published work. These technologies have been used to assist instructors in detecting plagiarism and to deter students from committing plagiarism. However, they may also be useful as an instructional tool to assist students to self-identify potential areas of plagiarism in their writing and make appropriate revisions before submission. The hypotheses of this study were that student use of SafeAssign would decrease percent of matching text from first to final submission and improve student awareness of plagiarism. To test these hypotheses, students (n = 20) in an upper level, writing intensive Animal Science physiology course were required to submit their first submission of a 15-page literature review to SafeAssign and write a short reflective piece on how they would improve their writing for the final submission based on the results. Students then completed an anonymous online survey to gauge the perceived usefulness of the assignment. Final submissions were also analyzed by SafeAssign and compared with first submissions. The percent of matching text identified by SafeAssign ranged from 0 to 22% in each submission and was not different between submissions (first: 8.1 ± 1.5%, final: 7.5 ± 1.6%, P = 0.6). However, much of the text flagged were false positives, including common phrases and citations. Of 5 papers with true plagiarism, 2 were appropriately revised for the final draft and had fewer incidences of plagiarism. Students reported that use of the program was helpful in identifying potential areas of plagiarism (n = 69%) and increased understanding of what is considered plagiarism (n = 54%). Due to inclusion of false positives, the report generated by SafeAssign must be carefully interpreted by both the instructor and student; however, the report provides an additional opportunity for dialog about plagiarism. Use of plagiarism detection programs may be beneficial when used formatively by students during the writing process when supported by other mechanisms of instruction.

Key Words: plagiarism, writing, animal science