CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Fewer students are trying to plagiarize in West Virginia now than eight years ago, according to a new study.
Commissioned by Turnitin, the foremost software application used in schools to screen students' work for plagiarism, the study found that West Virginia's rate of plagiarism has decreased by 69 percent in the last eight years.
It analyzed more than 69,000 student papers in West Virginia high schools over an eight-year period.
"The digital era offers a number of advantages for today's students, including access to a wealth of information and the ability to learn, share and collaborate from nearly anywhere and at any time," the report, released Wednesday, reads.
"The flipside of this progress is the potential for students to participate in behavior that is contradictory to educational goals. Most notably, students can readily search, copy and paste information into their academic writing without citation or attribution."
There have been indications that plagiarism is on the rise in the digital age: a 2011 Pew Research study found that 55 percent of college presidents believe plagiarism has increased in their schools -- most attributed the rise to the Internet. A Rutgers study this year found that 58 percent of students admitted to plagiarism.
Technology proponents believe that software like Turnitin -- students submit their papers through the software, and it searches the Internet for possible plagiarism -- can help curb the problem. Opponents say it only encourages students to find other ways to cheat.
But at least a handful of West Virginia schools have begun using this kind of technology, and less unoriginal work has been submitted to it -- or at least caught by it -- since its adoption.
Nationally, the results aren't clear cut: seven states saw an increase in the rate of unoriginal writing caught by the cheating software. Seven states saw even bigger decreases in unoriginal writing than West Virginia -- the rate of plagiarism decreased in Massachusetts by more than 80 percent.
Contact writer Shay Maunz at shay.ma...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4886.