PLAGiarism in University Environments
Special Interest Group

With the pervasive connectivity of virtual communities, the anonymity of their members and the availability of any and all digital documents at the fingertips of students and academics, plagiarism is on the rise in many universities. For example, the University California Berkeley is reported [by its spinoff] to have experienced a rise of plagiarism among students by a factor of over seven (7) during the nineties. This led several professors at Berkeley to create initiatives for plagiarism awareness, detection and prevention.

The Monash PLAGUE SIG studies, discusses and aims to help with, plagiarism problems.

Over the past few years, members of the DSSE Centre in the subgroup for parallel and distributed systems and the subgroup for distributed databases and image retrieval, have developed and used tools for high-performance similarity detection in digital documents for free text, such as essays, or computer programs, for example Java. The PLAGUE SIG aims to provide a flexible, open, reusable repository of resources assisting students and academics in detecting plagiarism and protecting themselves against it.

While such tools are useful, they are diagnosing but the symptoms of an illness rooted in the values, principles and processes of assessment and performance measurement of students and academics. The PLAGUE SIG hopes to serve students and lecturers by providing not only links and tools but a forum for raising awareness of, sharing problems with and approaches to, plagiarism and thus ultimately accepting responsibility for it from the grass roots level upwards. The SIG is in the process of establishing a Plague Registry for filing sources of plagiarism and a Plague Watch system for alerts about plagiarism in local or virtual communities. Through these resources and more importantly interactions we hope to contribute to raising learning and assessement standards as well as ethical standards.

The initiative provides an excellent opportunity for research crossing the boundaries of CERG, DSSE, and RUUG:

  • computing education;
  • distributed and parallel systems;
  • distributed data bases and image retrieval;
  • information theory and minimal message length;
  • reasoning under uncertainty.


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