Somehow or other, this news item slipped by me last summer. According to the “From the Editors” column in the July 2007 issue of IEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems (page 833), iParadigms (the company that gave educational institutions the Turnitin plagiarism detection software) will be teaming with the CrossRef association to produce a pilot plagiarism detection service for publishers that promises to ferret out plagiarism in submissions to scholarly publishers. According to the IEEE article, there were six scholarly publishers participating with CrossRef back in July. Now, according to the CrossRef site on their new service (to be called CrossCheck), there are eight participating publishers. Currently, these are:
- Association for Computing Machinery
- BMJ Publishing Group Ltd.
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
- The New England Journal of Medicine
- Taylor & Francis and
This pilot program is noteworthy for two reasons. First, it has been notoriously difficult previously to adequately check scholarly articles or dissertations/theses for plagiarism due to the fact that Turnitin.com (the preeminent product out there) does not cover the scholarly literature, but instead searches its own database of submitted student papers and in addition crawls the Internet for web content. The development of a service to check scholarly work for plagiarism (which, sad to say, is becoming a necessity in this day and age of plagiarized graduate and scholarly work) is something to be welcomed. Second, this CrossCheck service is being developed for publishers, not for the academic establishment (i.e. higher education). I sincerely hope that this service, once it becomes a reality, be made available to colleges and universities that need to check graduate papers, dissertations and theses for plagiarism. While undergraduates may be tempted to steal from each other or from material on the free web, it is more likely that plagiarism at the graduate level would entail copying from the scholarly literature, whether from journals or books. Until we in higher education have a tool to enable us to detect this, we will continue to muddle along with honor codes (or the lack thereof), and disengaged thesis and dissertation committee members.