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Software/service that compares written styles

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  • Eric Baber
    Hi all, Is anyone aware of software or a service which allows you to submit two or more pieces of writing and have the software compare the two for stylistic
    Message 1 of 4 , Feb 6, 2008
      Hi all,

      Is anyone aware of software or a service which allows you to submit two or
      more pieces of writing and have the software compare the two for stylistic
      features? The situation is this: I've marked a piece of writing which
      clearly isn't the student's. A google search on a number of phrases has
      turned up nothing, neither has a turnitin.com run-through. It's therefore
      possible that the student has had the piece of work written for them. Both I
      and a co-tutor can tell a mile off that it's not the student's writing but I
      was interested in finding out whether there's some software out there that I
      can run this plus a previous piece of writing of the student's through to
      flag up similarities or rather differences.

      Thanks

      Eric
    • Eric Baber
      Hi all, Is anyone aware of software or a service which allows you to submit two or more pieces of writing and have the software compare the two for stylistic
      Message 2 of 4 , Feb 6, 2008
        Hi all,

        Is anyone aware of software or a service which allows you to submit two or
        more pieces of writing and have the software compare the two for stylistic
        features? The situation is this: I've marked a piece of writing which
        clearly isn't the student's. A google search on a number of phrases has
        turned up nothing, neither has a turnitin.com run-through. It's therefore
        possible that the student has had the piece of work written for them. Both I
        and a co-tutor can tell a mile off that it's not the student's writing but I
        was interested in finding out whether there's some software out there that I
        can run this plus a previous piece of writing of the student's through to
        flag up similarities or rather differences.

        Thanks

        Eric
      • seth.dickens
        Dear Eric, What a quandary! I m afraid I ve no idea of any program that can do something like this, but will certainly be checking back to find out if anyone
        Message 3 of 4 , Feb 6, 2008
          Dear Eric,

          What a quandary! I'm afraid I've no idea of any program that can do
          something like this, but will certainly be checking back to find out
          if anyone else gives you some hints / advice. I must admit that until
          now I thought that this sort of thing can only be resolved by a human,
          but it'll be interesting to know if anyone does throw up any answers.

          Is it a case of someone's linguistic abilities would not have allowed
          them to write the piece, or is it simply a stylistic matter? If it
          were the former, I'd simply ask them some tough questions about areas
          of the text which I think they'd be unable to comprehend and challenge
          them with my beliefs afterwards. If it's simply that the style has
          changed, well, wow! What a hard job you have on your hands.

          Out of interest, how do you find turnitin.com? Would you recommend it?
          We've been thinking of using it recently, but haven't met anyone who'd
          actually used it to ask them feedback on it.

          Best of luck and look forward to reading the conclusion to this!

          Seth.

          --- In evonline2002_webheads@yahoogroups.com, "Eric Baber" <Eric@...>
          wrote:
          >
          > Hi all,
          >
          > Is anyone aware of software or a service which allows you to submit
          two or
          > more pieces of writing and have the software compare the two for
          stylistic
          > features? The situation is this: I've marked a piece of writing which
          > clearly isn't the student's. A google search on a number of phrases has
          > turned up nothing, neither has a turnitin.com run-through. It's
          therefore
          > possible that the student has had the piece of work written for
          them. Both I
          > and a co-tutor can tell a mile off that it's not the student's
          writing but I
          > was interested in finding out whether there's some software out
          there that I
          > can run this plus a previous piece of writing of the student's
          through to
          > flag up similarities or rather differences.
          >
          > Thanks
          >
          > Eric
          >
        • Eric Baber
          Hi Seth, ... now I thought that this sort of thing can only be resolved by a human, That may still be the case, at least at the moment :-) I m sure there s a
          Message 4 of 4 , Feb 6, 2008
            Hi Seth,

            >I must admit that until
            now I thought that this sort of thing can only be resolved by a human,

            That may still be the case, at least at the moment :-) I'm sure there's a
            huge market for this sort of thing, though, and it would plain be
            interesting to see how software could analyse the differences in style, so
            I'm sure it'll just be a matter of time before this becomes available, if it
            isn't already.

            >Is it a case of someone's linguistic abilities would not have allowed
            them to write the piece, or is it simply a stylistic matter?

            Well it's a native speaker (this is on a UK Open University course) but it's
            still a matter of linguistic ability (where does linguistic ability end and
            style start?) They're using more advanced language this time than in
            previous assignments - correct punctuation, good use of relative clauses,
            overall good sentence- and paragraph-structure etc. It could be that they've
            just asked a friend to tidy it up for them but it's so different from
            previous pieces of writing that it would have to have been a substantial
            amount of "tidying" (which opens another can of worms - where does "tidying"
            become someone else's work?)

            > If it
            were the former, I'd simply ask them some tough questions about areas
            of the text which I think they'd be unable to comprehend and challenge
            them with my beliefs afterwards.

            Yes, that's a good idea - a viva, basically (an oral conversation asking
            about the content of the assignment). I hadn't thought of that, good idea,
            thanks.

            >Out of interest, how do you find turnitin.com? Would you recommend it?

            Yes, if only for the preventative effect. I find it works best as an
            educational tool in two ways. At the beginning of a course I like to run a
            paper through it to show students how it works, and what information it
            gives me. I highlight the fact that it's likely to turn up content that has
            appeared elsewhere online, in printed material to some extent, and in papers
            submitted by other students. This first of all makes them aware of the fact
            that we run everything through turnitin.com and that if they do copy from
            elsewhere, it's likely to tell us that. Secondly, I use it as a tool to
            explain what plagiarism actually is. I highlight the fact that it's fine to
            copy materials from elsewhere to some extent, as long as it's referenced
            properly. That then leads into a discussion of what extent of copying is
            acceptable, and how to reference properly.

            So yes, I find it useful, certainly as an educational tool into what
            plagiarism is and how we're likely to spot it. I'm quite sure it's led to
            less plagiarism and better referencing; what it doesn't catch, though, is
            papers that have been written to order, which is what the one I'm currently
            working on looks like it is.

            Let me know if you have any other questions on turnitin!

            Eric
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