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PowerResearcher", The First Of Its Kind To Constructively PREVENT Plagiarism

By Stephan Botes

Plagiarism detection services parading as "plagiarism prevention" is a misnomer. They detect plagiarism after it the fact and rely on the threat of detection as a deterrent. Detection technology can only analyze a small fraction of the total Internet content. The "deep web is much larger then the public web. A 2003 study at the University of California at Berkeley found that the surface web is about 167 terabytes as of summer 2003; BrightPlanet estimates the deep web to be 400 to 450 times larger, thus between 66,800 and 91,850 terabytes (How Much Information? 2003). Detection services are lacking due to their inability to scan for matches in all subscription databases such as Lexis-Nexis, EBSCO, Swets, etc.

Detection is not enough of a deterrent either. A 2003 Rutgers University study of 18,000 students, 2,600 faculty, and 650 teaching assistants on 23 campuses indicated, "20% of the 2,600 faculty participating in [the] project indicated they use computer software such as to help them detect student plagiarism. Approximately a third of the faculty in social sciences and communications and journalism report using such programs, three times the number reported by education and engineering faculty (New Study Confirms Internet Plagiarism Is Prevalent 2003). The same study found that "thirty-eight percent of the undergraduate students completing the survey indicated they had engaged in one or more instances of cut & paste plagiarism using the Internet in the past year - paraphrasing or copying a few sentences of material from the Internet without citing the source, a dramatic increase from the 10% who acknowledged "cut & paste plagiarism using the Internet in a similar survey conducted only two years ago (New Study Confirms Internet Plagiarism Is Prevalent 2003).

PowerResearcher focuses on the research and development of the research work product and provides constructive plagiarism prevention through visual cues, dynamic prompting, guidance, productivity tools and tracking features, addressing the major causes of plagiarism proactively. PowerResearcher accelerates the research and writing process and creates a better communication vehicle between student and lecturer that includes not just the finished paper, but also all digital work artifacts relevant to the assignment such as research plans, concept maps, offline copies of web pages, source information, research and writing activity logs and presentation materials.

In the early days of computer programming, simple text editors were used to write low-level software code like Fortran and Assembler. In time, more sophisticated editors were invented that helped programmers format proper syntax. Higher level languages like C++ and JAVA and IDE (Integrated Development Environment) tools were created that combined several functions necessary for efficient software development like IDE that increased productivity, quality, and traceability. Similarly, PowerResearcher provides similaradvantages to the researcher and writer. Digital research, particularly the Internet, has made research more akin to software development. Lessons learned from the software industry produced PowerResearcher".

Plagiarism causes, motivating factors of plagiarism and constructive prevention:

Disorganization. Poor note taking, inadequate time management, underestimation of workload. PowerResearcher provides integrated research planning, task and deadline reminders, automated source tracking, information capture and storage, and concept/topic-based organization, while saving time.

Information Overload. Too many sources to evaluate, spending too much time collecting. rather than analyzing information. PowerResearcher provides fast source search, collection, and organization, leaving more time for information analysis and use.

Ethical Lapses. Attitudes about the "wrongness of plagiarism and, indeed, all forms of cheating have degenerated steadily. The 29th Annual Survey of High Achievers by Who's Who Among American High School Students found that 80% admitted to cheating on school work"up 4% from the previous year"and "53% said the transgression was no big deal (Who's Who 1998). Although PowerResearcher cannot, by itself, inculcate a sense of ethics into a student in whom it is lacking, but may change the "risk versus reward equation and encourage them, out of simple self-interest, to conduct research properly. Laziness. Procrastination and an inclination to do the least amount of work necessary.

For the lazy, easy access to information that can be stolen without recognition, provides ample temptation. PowerResearcher highlights copied text and prompts for citations, allowing use of a customizable Citation Style Wizard that automates laborious and repetitive citations.

Ignorance. PowerResearcher guides even the relatively uninformed in academic integrity, with visual cues and logs.

Fear. Fears of inadequacy, failure, and self or parental expectations. PowerResearcher helps to inspire confidence in the student as to their ability to complete a quality assignment by automating many of the manual and repetitive tasks.

Cryptomnesia. The phenomenon of "forgotten knowledge may occur when the researcher fails to keep careful track of information consumed and used. The sheer amount of information available today may be a key contributor to this issue. PowerResearcher automatically tracks such sources that alone, if used consistently, can reduce the possibility of cryptomnesia.

Thrill Seeking. Some may even relish the excitement of breaking rules and avoid censure and opportunities are greater than ever. While PowerResearcher cannot alter this personality trait, the ability for the lecturer to audit research activities and match those to the resulting student work makes this a time-consuming, costly, and risk-filled endeavor.

The opportunistic plagiarist. One who knows that it is wrong to plagiarize but who does it anyway due to disorganization, information overload, ethical lapses, laziness, and/or fear.

The committed plagiarist. One who intends, with forethought, to cheat by stealing others words and/or ideas. This is the type of plagiarist who might purchase a paper from a paper mill. Committed plagiarists may suffer from ethical lapses, fear, or thrill seeking. The other factors mentioned above can also contribute to this behavior (Beasley 2003).

The accidental plagiarist. One who may not understand plagiarism, makes a mistake in quoting, citing, or paraphrasing, or forgot to record the source, which may have been a dynamic URL and not recoverable. Detection technology cannot identify accidental plagiarism vs. intentional plagiarism. PowerResearcher records the sources used, even from a dynamic URL.

PowerResearcher's plagiarism prevention capabilities protect the inadvertent plagiarist from harm and convinces the intentional plagiarist that doing the right thing will be far less costly, less risky and less time consuming.


About the Project Management Profession. URL: [3 April 2004]

Cheating and succeeding: record numbers of top high school students take ethical shortcuts: Who's Who Finds Troubling Trends, Some Good News. (1998) URL: [29 February 2004]

How Much Information? 2003. (2003) URL: [29 February 2004]

New Study Confirms Internet Plagiarism Is Prevalent. (2003) URL: [8 October 2003]

Beasley, J.D. Research Process Automation Summary. (2003) URL: [28 February 2004]

Harris, R. (2001) The Plagiarism Handbook. Pyrczak Publishing.

Kerzner, H. (1995) Project Management, A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling. Fifth Edition. Van Nostrand Reinhold.

Weinstein, J. and Dobkin, C. (2002). Plagiarism in U.S. Higher Education: Estimating Internet Plagiarism Rates and Testing a Means of Deterrence. URL: [12 April 2004]

About The Author

Stephan Botes

PowerResearcher LLC's CEO, Stephan Botes, co-founded CCSC in 1982, and acquired controlling interest in 1986. He built the company, now headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, to a worldwide enterprise of five international companies on four continents and operations in 30 states of the USA, with 1999 revenues of over $32M. The company's most notable clients and alliances include the systems integrators like EDS, Computer Sciences, Microsoft, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard, IBM/ISSC, Informix, Oracle Corp., NCR, Sybase and Accenture.

In 1987 he designed the first of what is today, Internet chat rooms, and formed Uniting Networks Inc. (UNI) for that purpose. In 1994 he bought Interact Education Group from Dutch conglomerate Rijnhaave and in 1997, acquired StudyPro International, and combined their intellectual property to create educational technology tools like Activator, MaestroPro", Scoutabout and most recently, PowerResearcher"

He has twice been honored by INC. Magazine as the CEO of one of "America's 500 Fastest Growing Private Companies - in 1988 (#459) and 1991 (#300) and three times by the New Jersey Business Journal for being CEO of one of the fastest growing private companies in the State of New Jersey; at #8, #14 and #11 through this same period. In 1992 he was nominated for the Entrepreneur of the Year Award by Ernst & Young and nominated for the Blue Chip Enterprise Initiative Award by the US Chamber of Commerce. He featured in the Wall Street Journal March 23, 1992, and was the subject of a chapter in The US Chamber of Commerce's book "Real-World Lessons for America's Small Businesses".


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