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Automated Essay Spinning - An Initial Investigation

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Automated Essay Spinning - An Initial Investigation

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This paper examines automated essay spinning, where a new variant of an essay can be easily produced by a student for them to submit for academic credit. This new essay represents plagiarism. Four spinning processes are tested to generate new versions of three corpora of documents. The originality of documents in the new corpora are assessed using three plagiarism detection tools, Turnitin, TRanker and Ferret. The technique of Automated Translation, where an essay is translated to and from English, perhaps via a sequence of other languages, is found to produce presentable work which may not be detected as unoriginal.
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... These tools rewrite text for students, efectively allowing students to ofoad the task of paraphrasing. Some of these tools are adaptations of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) tools, which are used by webmasters to increase trafc to a website by making it appear that there is more unique content -when actually, the content is just robotically paraphrased versions of the same content (Lancaster & Clarke, 2009;Rogerson & McCarthy, 2017;Spinbot.com, 2016). ...
... BYPASSING TEXT-MATCHING SOFTWARE The auto-paraphrase tools discussed earlier successfully defeat text-matching tools, as they produce original text that cannot be found in a database (M. Jones & Sheridan, 2015;Lancaster & Clarke, 2009;Rogerson & McCarthy, 2017). Other approaches have also been attempted, and one text-matching provider says their tool is robust against approaches including swapping letters for similar letters in other languages; using a thesaurus; putting an entire piece of work within quotation marks; or converting text into an image (Turnitin, 2019). ...
... Machine based paraphrasing tools were developed to enable text spinning as a way of improving website rankings in Google search results and are part of a suite of search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques referred to as Black-Hat marketing. ( Lancaster and Clarke 2009;Rogerson and McCarthy 2017;Zhang et al. 2014). ...
... Word matching software such as Turnitin® (n.d.) has proven valuable in identify- ing replication of text from other sources. However, the very purpose of paraphrasing tools is to deceive software developed to detect plagiarism, and it is apparent that to date this strategy has been successful (Lancaster and Clarke 2009;Rogerson and McCarthy 2017;Shahid et al. 2017). Consequently, the burden of detection remains with the human reader who has to become increasing adept at spotting stylistic variations and any other flags relat- ing to mechanisms that have been used to avoid detection ( Gillam et al. 2010). ...
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In a recent unit of study in an undergraduate Health Sciences pathway course, we identified a set of essays which exhibited similarity of content but demonstrated the use of bizarre and unidiomatic language. One of the distinct features of the essays was the inclusion of unusual synonyms in place of expected standard medical terminology. We suspected the use of online paraphrasing tools, but were also interested in investigating the possibility of the use of online language translation tools. In order to test the outputs of these tools, we used as a seed document a corpus of text which had been provided to the students as prompt for the essay. This document was put through six free online paraphrasing tools and six separate iterative language translations through the online Google Translate™ tool. The results demonstrated that free online paraphrasing tools did not identify medical terminology as standardised or accepted nomenclature and substituted synonyms, whereas Google Translate™ largely preserved medical terminology. We believe that textual indicators such as the absence of standard discipline-based terminology may be of assistance in the identification of machine paraphrased text.
... Translated and rearranged text was also not detected as similar to original sources, reflecting similar conclusions found in studies in essay spinning by Lancaster and Clarke (2009). ...
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Chapter
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