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Wednesday, October 27, 1999 Published at 13:48 GMT 14:48 UK


Catching the internet cheats

For some, studying is too much like hard work

There are concerns in the United States over a growing number of university students using the internet to cheat in their studies.

The pressures of university life and the temptation to spend as much time as possible partying has led some students to take material they find on the internet and pass it off as their own work.

Websites, such as one called School Sucks, have been set up to give students access to essays of other students, and are big business.

[ image: Anne Benjaminson:
Anne Benjaminson: "Cheating is everywhere"
But now professors in California are using the internet to fight back with the use of websites created to help them detect plagiarism in their students' work.

One, called Plagiarism.Org, allows them to electronically check on cheaters using a database at the University of California, Berkeley.

They can cross reference students' work with previously published material, highlighting incidences of plagiarism.

University student Anne Benjaminson said: "There's cheating everywhere, absolutely everywhere. Even at schools that have honour codes, I'm sure that it's not always 100% totally ethical."

[ image: Professors can use the Internet to check on cheating students]
Professors can use the Internet to check on cheating students
When Berkeley professor David Presti checked papers written by 320 of his students, he found that 45 of them contained material from the Internet which had not been credited.

He said: "15% was higher than I thought. I think it's a serious problem in academia as well as in any other forum where original written material is relevant."

But the creators of "cheating" websites do not appear to be too worried by the use of the Internet to crack down on student cheats.

Kenney Sahr, the creator of School Sucks, is a millionaire living in Israel.

He said: "I wish Plagiarism.Org all the success. They are proof that what we are doing is having an impact. I can't wait until there's 10 more companies like this."

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