Collaring The Copycats Of The Campus

Does "four score and seven years ago" ring a bell? Life would be easier for college professors if plagiarism were always so obvious. But with hundreds of sources to pilfer from, it's hard for teachers to spot cheaters. Barbara Glatt, a former professor of English composition at the University of Illinois, relies on computers for help.

Glatt Plagiarism Services Inc. in Sacramento has developed software that helps uncover cribbed text by eliminating every fifth word in a student's paper. Students who can't reconstruct their papers in class probably didn't write them in the first place, she figures. Schools such as the U. S. Naval Academy and the University of California at Los Angeles have the program. Although it is currently geared toward colleges, Glatt believes her software could help in business, too, perhaps to help settle copyright infringement suits.