I’m not quite sure if plagiarism is skyrocketing due to the internet as it is so claimed in the major media outlets. But if it is, then I think that composition instructors should fight fire with fire. In Chapter 15, Intellectual Property: Plagiarism, Copyright, and Trust, Professor James Purdy is quoted as saying the following: “If plagiarism is easier to commit because of the internet, it is also easier to catch because of the internet.” This is important to consider to all of the old-school composition teachers who lament how the internet has been used as a source of plagiarism. Composition instructors can use that same resource, the internet, to catch plagiarism. Turnitin.com has written a plagiarism study that every instructor should probably read. In the study, it mentions the most common sources where students go to plagiarize is not academic paper sites but user-generated websites such as Wikipedia and Yahoo! Answers. And legitimate educational sites are used more frequently than cheat sites. It is important to keep this in mind when teaching. The study also found that educational institutions that use turnitin.com have reported a drop in plagiarism.
There are also some built-in strategies that composition instructors can use to discover plagiarism. The chapter “noted that the frequent interaction between instructors and students creates an environment that obstructs plagiarism.” Also, “because of frequently reading student responses throughout the semester, any written reports or essays should not come as a surprise in terms of credibility and authenticity.” So, basically, being an engaged instructor who has a hand-on approach should do much to prevent and catch plagiarism. I feel that students should understand the nuances of evaluating and citing sources in the digital age, especially in online classes.