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UNC faculty committee reviews technology-assisted methods of detecting plagiarism

The system of dealing with plagiarism and the costs of technology to faculty were reviewed at the faculty executive committee meeting Monday.

The committee discussed chairwoman of the faculty Jan Boxill’s recent creation of a faculty task force, which will act as a liaison between the faculty and the student-run Honor Court.

Boxill said the task force will help professors utilize the honor system and encourage them to formally document student violations.

She said the committee hopes to implement a dispute settlement model that would encourage students, faculty and the Honor Court to resolve issues before they have to go to trial.

Joseph Ferrell, secretary of the faculty, said students and faculty shy away from using the honor system because of the severe punishments and time-consuming nature of the process.

“It shouldn’t ruin someone’s life, but get them on the right track.”

Greg Copenhaver, an associate professor in the biology department, said the primary criticism of the Honor Court is that it does not levy consequences when it should.

He said most teachers would rather deal with the student on their own terms than go through the process of charging them in a formal court.

“When I came here as a junior faculty member, I was explicitly told by my adviser not to use the system because they are too lenient,” Copenhaver said.

The developing task force would research other methods of detecting plagiarism, such as Turnitin and a similar Google program, which electronically recognize plagiarism.

The committee also discussed a new funding model that would require faculty to pay for access to UNC’s online network.

Members of the faculty expressed concern about how they would be affected individually.

Steven Bachenheimer, professor of microbiology and immunology, said the old way of accounting for communication usage does not apply to present technology.

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