When I joined Turnitin at the end of 2016, one thing about my job became immediately apparent: the publishing industry is changing. The cause of this change? Open access publishing. I cannot attend a conference without this subject being raised either subtly or overtly.
This change in the industry has been a long time coming. Since the advent of the internet, and the ability to share information with millions of people at the click of a button, the question “if the cost of making that information available is so cheap why should it not be free?” has been raised. The philosophy states that all research should be freely accessible. It’s not quite as simple as this though. I highly recommend reading Lindsay Ellis’ summary of the present state of Scholarly Publishing to get brought up to speed on why this is happening and what the issues are around it.
For me though, one thing is clear: Turnitin must be ready for the coming changes. At Turnitin, we are committed to supporting academic integrity from K-12 to the highest levels of academic research. One of our key areas of influence is assisting in the detection of plagiarism by providing solutions to both educational institutions and scholarly publishers. Open access content is particularly vulnerable to plagiarism due to its very openness. With no barrier to entry, it becomes incredibly easy for the hard work of authors who have contributed to these repositories to either be used by accident or on purpose by other authors without the proper citation.
This vulnerability is not new information to Turnitin. For years, Turnitin has been crawling open access repositories using our proprietary web crawler. Through this, we have harvested over 75 million open access records from thousands of open access repositories from across the world. However, we have found that crawling open access repositories can create some unique challenges, and we know that we can do more to ensure that our coverage is comprehensive.
So it gives me great pleasure to say that Turnitin is now partnering with CORE, the world's leading aggregator of open access metadata. CORE was started by Dr. Petr Knoth in 2010 as part of his PhD at the Open University in the UK. What began as a project to assist his own research ballooned into a service which is now used globally by students, researchers, and companies. Similar to Turnitin, CORE is harvesting open access metadata and full text content from thousands of different data providers. CORE has a singular focus, and so far has harvested over 135 million metadata records from over 3,700 data providers. These numbers are constantly rising at a phenomenal rate.
CORE has now granted Turnitin access to this treasure trove of metadata through their FastSync service. By harvesting the majority of our open access metadata from a single location, one which is constantly being updated with high-quality data, Turnitin can ensure that we will always be crawling the latest and most valuable open access content into our database.
As we crawl this content into our database we will be offering a valuable service to the open access community, protection from plagiarism. As soon as this content enters our database all of the millions of submissions which are put through our products by any of the 15,000 education institutions or the 1000s of publishers, government agencies, or businesses will immediately be checked for similarities and be highlighted within our reports. If anyone tries to pass off work they have taken from an open access repository as their own, then this will be detected and handled appropriately.
As the publishing landscape evolves, Turnitin is evolving alongside it. I am looking forward to working closely with CORE and seeing how our coverage of open access content increases into the future.
To learn more about our partnership with CORE, read the press release.