Credit: Klippa

Turnitin now recognises ChatGPT

By Odhran Gallagher

The plagiarism software used by the University of Glasgow can now detect the use of AI chatbots such as ChatGPT amidst concerns that students may be using them to write coursework and answers to exams.

Turnititn plagiarism software has been modified to now detect the use of artificial intelligence chatbots such ChatGPT. Turnitin is the most popular plagiarism detection software in the UK, being used by 98% of UK Universities including the University of Glasgow. 

The CEO of Turnitin, Chris Caren, has confirmed via a blog post that Turnitin will be able to detect the use of ChatGPT and other AI writing software in 2023. This comes after reports of Glasgow University students using the software on coursework and remaining undetected by Turnitin. 

ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence language model which uses an algorithm to respond to users’ commands in order to write pieces of text. It is sophisticated enough to write basic computer programs as well as deal with complex topics and has garnered a lot of attention because of its simple interface and free-to-use business model.

CEO of Turnitin Chris Caren said: “Lately, there has been a surge of interest and concern surrounding ChatGPT, the increased sophistication of its capabilities. While AI writing tools have the potential to expand on original thoughts and ideas, they also have risks similar to contract cheating.

“Turnitin Originality, an in-market product that investigates the authenticity of student work, can detect some forms of AI-assisted writing and report on indicators of contract cheating. We will incorporate our latest AI writing detection capabilities—including those that recognize ChatGPT writing—into our in-market products for educator use in 2023.”

Caren added, “We are reassured by the conversation around detection and other efforts to understand how AI writing impacts education, business, and every other aspect of society. There are risks to AI writing being used improperly, and it is essential that good detection technology is available across all sectors.”

However, information has been circulating online, including videos on TikTok, showing alleged workarounds to avoid Turnitin detection. These involve using OpenAI’s ‘playground’ feature which allows users to set certain parameters that ostensibly allow the generated text to evade detection from AI detection software such as Turnitin. 

This news comes after many universities have struggled to ensure academic integrity amidst the free availability of artificial intelligence chat bots such as ChatGPT. Cambridge University recently allowed students to use the technology, unless it was for submitted coursework or exams. Data has also been revealed showing that between the 8 Russell Group universities, there were over 1 million instances of computers on the universities’ wifi network accessing ChatGPT throughout January and February of this year.

Speaking to STV, a University of Glasgow spokesperson said: “ChatGPT is a new technology, which brings with it new opportunities as well as new challenges. We are working with experts from our School of Computing Science to better understand ChatGPT’s capabilities and limitations, and how best to advise students to use it appropriately as a learning tool.  

“We have reminded students of their responsibilities and directed them to sources of guidance and support in how to appropriately use and reference learning resources. It remains fundamental to the integrity of academic study that whatever resources students use now and in the future, they do not present as their own work something that they did not do themselves.  

“Equally, it is important that we design our assessments in ways that reduce the potential impact of misuse of such AI and other tools. This has been a process under constant review for many years and it will remain so in the years to come.”


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