If you didn’t see our post yesterday, you should go back and catch up.
We are talking about plagiarism. And how admissions teams now have a tool to detect it.
Yesterday we mentioned that a couple BSers who apparently don’t follow us on Twitter had gotten all dramatic about this issue in posting comments on our blahg. One expressed his concern that an innocent Brave Supplicant who had an essay reviewed on the EssaySnark blahg might get somehow entrapped by this software and then rejected by the school.
There are a few problems with this fear, the first of which is, what the hell, do you think the adcoms are stupid or something??
OK let’s break it down.
1. In the Similarity Report that it generates, the Turnitin software tells the school where the identical text was found. They cite the source.
2. These newspaper articles where the adcoms are interviewed about how they use the software are all pretty darn clear (if you bother to read them): In the very small number of cases where an admissions essay gets a positive hit from the Turnitin software, the admissions people at the different schools basically all said they react the same way:
– First, they look at the report carefully and check out the sources where those hits appeared. There’s an awful lot of positive hits from websites that have Steve Jobs quotes, for example. Because an awful lot of admissions essays have lame Steve Jobs quotes in them.
– If they cannot determine that it was a false positive through their own research, then they ask the applicant about it, and let the applicant explain.
They are clearly giving candidates the benefit of the doubt.
So, if an innocent BSer ends up on a Turnitin report saying that there’s duplicative text in their essay and on the web — and that text is duplicative because this same BSer had submitted an earlier draft to EssaySnark for a public review on the blahg — then what, exactly, is the problem? YOU ARE NOT PLAGIARIZING IF YOU ARE THE PERSON WHO WROTE IT IN THE FIRST PLACE.*
And if anyone else ends up on the Turnitin report based on a hit from the EssaySnark blahg… well then, we applaud Turnitin and the adcoms who are employing it. That is exactly what the software is for, and that is exactly why the admissions people appreciate it.
If anyone is concerned about using EssaySnark for an essay review based on the possibility of later showing up on a Turnitin report, remember: All the top bschools are well aware of admissions consulting, and while some haven’t exactly embraced it, many of them recognize that a good admissions consultant can add value to your process, and help you present yourself better — which all the schools do appreciate. Using EssaySnark for advice and feedback is absolutely not violating any ethical code. In our “other life”, EssaySnark has had plenty of one-on-one conversations with admissions officers at many of the top schools. We have established relationships with these people, with open communication. We have nothing to hide — and you don’t, either, as long as you’re going about this the right way.
The other point is, if you have been reading the EssaySnark blahg for any period of time at all, you will have noticed that we do not tend to post essays that are GOOD. (Unlike the poor schmuck of a so-called admissions consultant who is called out in this post from the Ross admissions director.) We post essays that are BAD. And we explain why they are bad, in the expectation that the writer of said bad essay will go back to the drawing board and try again.
And in pretty much every case that we can ever recall, that is exactly what has happened. The BSer who sent in the essay for the freebie review goes back and COMPLETELY REWRITES THE DARN THING. Because they realize how off they were in that first rendition.
So, while we don’t know the exact algorithms and underpinnings of the Turnitin software, we suspect that in most cases, the overhauled essay that said BSer ends up submitting is most likely not going to result in a hit on the website from that self-same BSer’s previous version. Just a hunch.
Not to mention the fact that @turnitinadm is following @EssaySnark on Twitter — as are a bunch of other admissions peeps. Like, members of admissions and career services staff at UCLA and Haas and Ivey (up in Canada). Or, like @TuckAdmissions, who has even retweeted EssaySnark before. Same with @JonathanFuller, admissions guy at Michigan Ross. The adcoms spend nearly as much time on the Internet as you do (OK no they don’t, that’s not possible). They *do* know their market. They know the players. They know what the EssaySnark blahg is all about. If they see a hit on a plagiarism report, they will have the proper tools to investigate it and interpret those results.
These people are not stupid. And they also, believe it or not, actually LIKE YOU GUYS. They want you to SUCCEED. They are all about empowering the next generation of leaders and all that malarkey. They are actually on your side. They also know there are a few unscrupulous folks rattling around in the world. If they are using a tool like this piece of software, they will most likely be coming from the position of “trust but verify” — they are not using it against you, they are using it to protect themselves.
And so what, exactly, is the big deal here?
Oh yeah: If you really are scared about showing up on a plagiarism report, then don’t include quotes from famous people in your essay. (Or just don’t include quotes from famous people for the reason that it’s lame. Just don’t.)
*well technically…. as an actual academic, you would be expected to cite yourself, if you are referencing your own previously published work. but a draft of the same work is not “previously published” so you’re not plagiarizing yourself. and yes we’re leaving capitals out of this endnote to try and indicate how very insignificant this point is in the context of your work writing essays for mba apps.