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ChatGPT: UNSW Says They’ve Equipped Academics With A Plagiarism-Detecting AI

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The University Of New South Wales says it is now making Turnitin, an AI-powered plagiarism detection software, available to academics. This means academics could more easily identify if an essay was written with ChatGPT.

In a radio interview with 2GB, Professor Merlin Crossley, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Quality at UNSW, told host Chris O’Keefe that ChatGPT has proven itself to be an “amazing technology.”

“… it can write beautiful pieces of work, it’s shaken us all up… we all got our thinking caps on, and we’re trying to adjust.” Professor Crossley said.

“It’s good that people have learned how to use this technology, but they need to be able to know how to operate in the real world as well,” he added.

Speaking with The Chainsaw, Professor Crossley adds that the tool is now available for lecturers to use, but echoes his sentiments in the interview and stresses that “no one knows how effective it is.”

“The staff don’t know and the students don’t know. We are proceeding with caution,” he says.

Professor Crossley tells The Chainsaw: “We see this as an evolving arms race. We don’t see the tools as a simple solution but they are part of the solution.”

War against ChatGPT: What is Turnitin?

University students around the world would be familiar with AI-powered anti-plagiarism software Turnitin. It analyses written work to identify how similar said work is compared to thousands of existing documents on the internet. 

Students upload an essay to Turnitin via the university’s student portal, wait for about five to ten minutes, and the software will return with a percentage number.

Turnitin is not new, but as ChatGPT continues to become a ‘ghostwriter’ – even for politicians – the software has been revamping itself to more effectively catch plagiarism.

Most recently, in early April, Turnitin said its AI writing detection capabilities now have a 98% confidence rating. It also said it is currently conducting tests on GPT-4, OpenAI’s latest large language model that briefly stirred concern for having “sparks of general intelligence.” 

Uni assignments are about to look different

In addition, Professor Crossley shared in the interview that UNSW is also “redesigning tests” to adapt to the ChatGPT era.

“There are certain things you can do to ‘trick’ the chatbot,” he noted.

There have been reports of certain subjects in Australia universities – including UNSW – integrating ChatGPT in assignments. Students who spoke to The Chainsaw said that such an approach was a novel one and a “step in the right direction,” as the chatbot at times produced inaccurate information. As such, there is need for a human editor for fact-checking.

“Assignment design plays a greater role and we are considering that carefully this year,” Professor Crossley tells us.