Plagiarism Tool Scans 1 Million Papers


CMS/LMS provider Blackboard reported Monday that its plagiarism detection service, SafeAssign, has now been used to scan more than 1 million student papers. Blackboard debuted SafeAssign about nine months ago.

SafeAssign is designed to eliminate plagiarism in student assignments. The service detects plagiarized works in student papers and delivers reports on such incidents through the Blackboard Learning System.

It checks assignments against databases of published articles and also scans the Internet for materials that might have been plagiarized. The databases the system uses include ProQuest ABI/Inform database, which includes more than 2.6 million articles and is updated weekly; archives of papers submitted to SafeAssign by users; and Global Reference Database of papers submitted by students and faculty.

According to Blackboard, "The proliferation of Web-based 'paper mills' and several high profile instances of cheating have drawn significant attention to the issue of plagiarism. In 2003, a Rutgers University study found that nearly four in 10 college students--38 percent--had engaged in online plagiarism. Many students have also expressed uncertainty over what exactly constitutes plagiarism."

"SafeAssign made grading my research papers so much easier," said Miranda Gilliam, English teacher at Pearce High School in Richardson, TX, in a statement released today. "Using SafeAssign proved to the students that plagiarism is a big deal. Of course, I can tell students not to copy, but when there is an element in place that checks one's work such as SafeAssign, my point is proven."

SafeAssign has been available as a stand-alone tool since August 2007 and a component integrated into Blackboard Academic Suite 8 since February 2008.

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About the author: David Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media's online education technology publications, including THE Journal and Campus Technology. He can be reached at

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About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 25-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).

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