“In 2009 we had what I call the perfect storm of plagiarism,” says Carrie Marcinkevage, MBA and MOL Managing Director. “As I was reading an essay, I came across a segment that sounded awfully familiar. I searched back a few essays and saw the exact same three paragraphs. Then I looked back a few more and there was a third. I realized that something very major was going on.”
Marcinkevage turned to Google and found an article from which applicants plagiarized. “So we stopped the entire process and went back through every application. We found 29 cases of the applicant pool that had all copied text from the same article. All of them had plagiarized.”Results
Marcinkevage wondered what else they had overlooked. “We were only catching the ones that we could, with human intervention, catch. That’s not a fair way to do it. So we wanted an equitable, fair way to do it.”
Marcinkevage wanted a solution that would uphold the integrity of the admissions process at Smeal. “I did not want the admissions team to be looking for cheating and plagiarism. That’s the exact opposite of the frame of mind that they need to be in. They need to be in a frame of mind of finding an applicant’s assets and potential fit, not trying to determine whether or not they’re a cheater.”
She immediately called Turnitin and put iThenticate into use within a week to enthusiastic response.
Michael Waldhier, the Director of Admissions for the MBA program at Smeal says, “We take iThenticate as a point of pride in the admissions process. Ethics and integrity are a huge part of our culture. We were the first business school to bring on a Director of Honor and Integrity to work for the college. To run all of the applications through iThenticate, to make sure that everybody is following the rules that we put into practice in the classroom is valuable.”
iThenticate has ensured the integrity of the admissions process. Waldhier states, “iThenticate found evidence of plagiarism in up to 9% of our applications, with an average of 4-8% plagiarism cases found each year. This detection has freed up the Admissions Committee to focus on positive attributes of student candidates.”
On a holistic note, Marcinkevage adds, “Part of what can encourage an ethical culture is social norms. We have to bring in people who already have the potential to embrace an ethical culture and help continue and create that social norm. If we bring in people who are already in violation of it, we can’t possibly uphold the culture.”