The saga began last year when McLean High School in Virginia adopted a widely used antiplagiarism service called Turnitin. Under the system, students electronically submit essays to be stored and compared against millions of others in a massive database. Teachers can see if students are lifting work â€“ a valuable tool given that research has found that 40 percent of undergraduate students admit to copying and pasting passages from websites.
But the setup rankled some students, who argued they shouldn’t have to surrender their personal writing and persuasive essays â€“ along with their names and e-mail addresses â€“ to a computer bank in California.
If Sally Student’s essay on “Symbolism in The Great Gatsby” is original, it’s no use to TurnItIn. They’re checking to see if someone else turned in a suspiciously similar essay. Sally’s work helps the company only if it’s copied.