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Hobsons To Add Turnitin for Plagiarism Checking in Admissions Process

A company that offers admissions and enrollment management software will be upselling its customers to add functionality from another company with software that checks content for plagiarism. Hobsons, which sells ApplyYourself, will be offering its higher education customers Turnitin for Admissions, plagiarism detection software from iParadigms.

ApplyYourself guides students through the college admission process with online tools for submitting applications, scheduling campus events and interviews, and submitting online recommendations. Turnitin for Admissions compares submitted content to a database of Internet content, subscription content, and other documents to create a comprehensive similarity report. Personal statements and other applicant-created documents are verified to help reveal plagiarism, recycled submissions, purchased documents, and other content that fails to meet academic standards.

The companies will make the new integrated offering be ready in time for the fall 2011 application season.

"Since our launch, we have completed several significant proof-of-concept tests with graduate and Ph.D. level personal statements," said Jeff Lorton, a product and business development manager for iParadigms. "In each test, we found plagiarism, recycling, or collusion at rates averaging [8 percent] to 20 percent of the applicants, and saw similar results at all levels of university applications."

An institution would plug the Turnitin application into its ApplyYourself application system, Lorton explained. Applicants would go to the school's Web site and apply for the program. When they filled out that application and attached the personal statements or essays and submitted their application, the documents would go into the ApplyYourself system. "A copy of the personal statement would be routed into the school's Turnitin submission service where it would be compared to all of our databases," he said. "A similarity report would be generated. Then there would be a score sent back. When an admissions person looked over the record, [he or she would] see the score and be able to look at the similarity report in the ApplyYourself applicant record."

According to iParadigms, increasing numbers of enrollment offices have uncovered plagiarism or fraudulent content in admissions essays. At Pennsylvania State University's Smeal College of Business, for example, the MBA admissions team noticed repetition of content among multiple applicant essays last year. Ironically, the topic of the essays was "Principled Leadership."

A manual review of 360 applications still in process uncovered 29 applicants who had submitted essays that contained plagiarism. As a result of its findings, the school denied 15 applicants without interviews, canceled nine scheduled interviews, rescinded one applicant's admission, and requested that four applicants rewrite their essays to remedy borderline plagiarism.

This academic year the school added an authenticity and plagiarism review. According to Carrie Marcinkevage, the director of MBA admissions, "The collaboration between Hobsons and Turnitin will make the authentication process less cumbersome for campuses. Admissions departments can simplify the authentication process, eliminating the time-consuming manual work, freeing admissions experts to focus on identifying the positive attributes that candidates might bring to their programs."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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