Inquiry: The Journal of the Virginia Community Colleges

Author Bio(s)

Jared Hunt, M.A., is Adjunct English Instructor at John Tyler Community College in Midlothian, Virginia. Patrick Tompkins, Ph.D., is Dean of Communications, Humanities, and Social Sciences at Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, Virginia.


The plagiarism detection programs SafeAssign and Turnitin are commonly used at the collegiate level to detect improper use of outside sources. In order to determine whether either program is superior, this study evaluated the programs using four standards: (1) the ability to detect legitimate plagiarism, (2) the ability to avoid false positives, (3) the ease of use in design, and (4) cost. After submitting 284 texts to both programs—including a random sampling of anonymous student texts from different disciplines; a sample of autobiographies, which were unlikely to be plagiarized; and a sample of texts assembled from online sources which were completely plagiarized—no statistically significant difference between the effectiveness of the programs was found.



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