Turnitin announces new feature to detect ChatGPT in assignments

Graphic illustration by Olivia Havre | Photographer

By Sydney Matthews | Staff Writer

Turnitin — a web service that identifies plagiarism in papers — has recently announced there will be a new feature to detect ChatGPT and related AI usage in essays and assignments. This new feature is set to release as early as next month.

The platform is able to compare passages in an assignment to other writings across the internet. The purpose of Turnitin is to detect academic dishonesty and create an originality report highlighting the sentences of plagiarized text for professors to see while grading.

According to Turnitin, the platform already has a resource page to support educators on AI and inform them of the new technology. These include updates on the capabilities of AI and progress their software has made on their own detection feature thus far.

Dr. Lauren Short, lecturer and assistant director of the University Writing Center, said she thinks this new feature will give confidence to professors that their students are being academically honest. She said that while most professors are able to identify how each student writes in their classes; for those who cannot, this will be a helpful tool while grading assignments.

“Students should adhere to Baylor’s guidelines and their professors’ guidelines as well,” Short said. “If we are able to teach students how to use it well, it can be a helpful tool.”

San Diego sophomore Brady Schey said ChatGPT can help students in developing ideas, but should not be used as the sole source. He said students should use new technology as a resource, not as a replacement for doing the assignment.

“I feel like the new feature on Turnitin is necessary to have so that students don’t plagiarize their work,” Schey said. “I feel like students who copy and paste from ChatGPT should have consequences since it is so simple to use it as an outline or to inspire ideas, not to use as your own work.”

The University Writing Center provides services for students so they do not feel the need to violate Baylor’s academic honesty guidelines. Some resources include one-on-one advising and specialized writing procedures for students who are working on their essays.

“I think having the opportunity for someone to look at your writing is helpful, and working on your writing early,” Short said. “The closer students get to deadlines, the more willing we are to do anything to get it done.”

Schey said he has used the Writing Center many times to get help with his essays. He said he likes that there is a resource like this on campus because essays can become overwhelming. Having a plan and not procrastinating is something he has learned the importance of this year.

Short said there is still no definitive answer for how this new feature will impact the English department at Baylor. She said each professor and student has their own beliefs for what the future holds for ChatGPT on campus.