Wednesday, October 27, 1999 Published at 13:48 GMT 14:48 UK
Websites, such as one called School Sucks, have been set up to give students access to essays of other students, and are big business.
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.”
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.”