The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Lisa Frankenstein was released to theaters Feb. 9th and was released to digital platforms Feb. 27.
"Lisa Frankenstein" Review
February 29, 2024
The program for SMU Lyric Theatres performance of Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi, Dallas Texas, Sunday February 18, 2024
Love, loss and laughter
February 27, 2024

SMU tries to adapt to changing plagiarism world

As ever changing as the online landscape is, administrators and professors alike are implanting new strategies and technologies towards electronic plagiarism detection.

SMU uses Safe Assign, an extension of Blackboard that runs student’s papers through a vast database of records and then prints out a report that highlights possible places of plagiarism.

As an avid user of this technology, SMU political science professor Chelsea Brown has had mixed experiences with the teaching tool.

“Safe Assign’s not perfect,” Brown said. “I started using Safe Assign the first semester I was here, but it was very finicky…mainly in its functionality.”

Brown elects to use Safe Assign not just with term papers, but instead for every type of writing assignment she assigns.

With every paper submitted through Safe Assign, students receive an electronic timestamp that proves that a copy of the paper was turned in.

This eliminates possible professor error in regards of losing physical copies.

“I think there is a fair amount of student reassurance with Safe Assign,” Brown said.

SMU’s prime proponent of Safe Assign is Brad Boeke, the school’s Director of Academic Technologies.

A large part of Boeke’s job is to provide faculty, staff and students direct support for Blackboard technologies.

Boeke is currently forming a group of faculty, staff and students to make the school’s experience with Blackboard better.

“Safe Assign’s got mixed reviews from the faculty,” Boeke said. “The way to make Safe Assign more effective is to submit more work into the database.”

As SMU’s prime liaison to Blackboard, Boeke has seen a number of problems with the software.

In one extreme case, Boeke recalls Safe Assign taking almost a week to generate a report that would normally take three to four hours.

The problem was later attributed to too many papers being turned in at the same time on Safe Assign’s servers.

Even though Safe Assign is set into place, some students fail to even realize that they are plagiarizing.

Brandon Bub, a sophomore English major, notices that plagiarism has many definitions.

“There are also some rules about plagiarism that aren’t always clearly explained,” Bub said. “If a student were to write a paper and then cite something from a previous piece the student might have written, there are a lot of professors who would consider that plagiarism.”

With electronic resources growing exponentially, electronic plagiarism is conversely growing as well.

SMU’s registrar, John Hall, is the prime authority over all academic dishonesty allegations.

“Today’s technology makes it easier for students to steal someone else’s work and ideas and a few students will be tempted to do so,” Hall said. “I think we’ll see a steady but slow growth in the use of plagiarism checking software, but the knowledge that is available and might be used is a deterrent to the temptations out on the Web.”

While plagiarism may contain more grey area than most academic subjects, Boeke, Brown and Bub all agree on one way to curb plagiarism use – education.

“I think one problem that a lot of students face is that they simply don’t know what plagiarism is,” Bub said. “Most of us are taught in high school that the only thing that counts as plagiarism is lifting direct quotes from sources without attributing them, but plagiarism in an academic context involves much more than that. Taking ideas from any source and claiming them as your own is grounds for a plagiarism violations.”

While Safe Assign is just a gear in the overall machine of plagiarism detection, perhaps a more educated student body could eradicate plagiarism on its own.

Even though she thoroughly covers plagiarism during the first week of class, Brown believes that by adding a workshop during one of SMU’s two freshman orientations will allow students to come into class knowing what plagiarism is and how to avoid doing it.

Boeke also agrees that “the best solution to the problem is education.”

“If someone goes through a college education submitting other people’s work, they are really hurting themselves,” Boeke said. “It’s like lying to your doctor.”

As the Internet continues to evolve, so do the means of skirting around electronic plagiarism detection.

In fact, a simple Google search for “Safe Assign cheat,” yields almost a million results.

“Electronic plagiarism technology to me is a lot like anti-piracy technology,” Bub said. “People are always going to find a way around it.” 

More to Discover