Global Innovation Awards 2017: Winner
Category: Writing with Integrity | Africa and Middle East
Olatunde AdedayoFaculty Turnitin Officer/Lecturer: Federal University of Technology, Nigeria
“Turnitin is not just for now,” he says. “Once you lose your integrity, it’s very difficult to get it back. Most times you don’t.”
In Nigeria, where economic hardship and corruption permeate society, it can be a challenge to convince even higher education students that honesty matters. The culture is changing, however, thanks to champions like Olatunde Adedayo. A lecturer in the Environmental Studies Department at Federal University of Technology in Minna, he has become a vocal advocate of academic integrity and a person people turn to when they have a question about plagiarism. He’s also the lead Turnitin administrator, advisor, and trainer at his university.
Adedayo discovered the benefits of Turnitin when the originality of his doctoral thesis was questioned. The accusations gave him sleepless nights, he says, until his thesis was run through Turnitin. In his case, the results were beneficial, proving academic integrity. “That gave me confidence and a boost to move forward,” he says. “That was the basis for me to start learning all the nitty-gritty of what Turnitin involved.”
While Adedayo didn’t plagiarize, he says many students do. Sometimes it’s because they don’t know better, and other times because they can. The Internet has made it extremely easy to copy and paste research from all corners of the globe. He says that Turnitin has helped his university both detect plagiarism and deter it. The goal, he says, is not to punish students but to prevent plagiarism by teaching students the value of originality and how to write and cite sources correctly.
Turnitin is gaining ground, and the results have been drastic. When they first started using the service several years ago, Adedayo says the similarity index (which can indicate plagiarism) was commonly at about 80%. It is now between 15–20%. At first, students were working hard to beat the system. They now like being able to use their phones to submit work and receive feedback, and are starting to realize that they’ll have more opportunities in the future if they learn how to meet international academic standards. “Turnitin is not just for now,” he says. “Once you lose your integrity, it’s very difficult to get it back. Most times you don’t.”
Adedayo says next steps include unifying policies and usage across the university and, later, Nigeria. There is a national integrity forum coming up, and he plans to be a part of it.
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