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21 March 2014, 3:25 AM


I am new to this forum and Mahara. Maybe plagiarism was discussed in the past and I couldn't find it (by the way, how do I search Mahara forums?)

Teachers asked me, if there is a possibility to find content copied from other portfolios?

Looking forward to a discussion

Brigitte (FernUni/German Distance Teaching University)


Kristina Hoeppner's profile picture
Posts: 3447

23 March 2014, 4:24 PM

Hello Brigitte,

Sorry that the forums can't be searched at the moment. We are working on getting fulltext search in.

Plagiarism detection has come up a couple of times, but I didn't find a wishlist item for it.

Taking permissions into consideration, you would only find content to which you have access. The fulltext search might give you some indication of the same content, but it would be a manual process at the moment.

Would others be interested in plagiarism detection as well?




26 March 2014, 8:36 AM

Hello Brigitte
You mention plagiarism in your previous post, without developing your question or your claim in that matter. So let me come back on this and asking you about what is your major concern about plagiarism in ePortfolio.

I am a PhD researcher at the OpenUniversity UK, on ePortfolios and CPD, and the subject you touched with your finger interests me.

Looking forward to reading more from you on this.
Gillian's profile picture
Posts: 1

26 March 2014, 3:47 PM

In my experience, plagiarism issues bother new eportfolio teachers more than experienced ones: I think this is due to initial uncertainty about what eportfolios can do. I have been asked this same question at Discipline level meetings in Faculties, and established that plagiarism on discussion boards was what frightened them. My response was: how do you deal with possible plagiarism on your LMS (Moodle or Blackboard) discussions? The answer of course was that they didn't: things had to be taken at face value because when we are managing very large student groups with multiple tutors, we have to accept that at tutor or coordinator level, we cannot read every post in every forum. My suggestion was to initiate an early forum discussion that explained plagiarism and academic integrity, plus the professional rewards of abiding by the rules and conventions of original work. For eportfolio, the solution seems to me to go two ways: either use eportfolios only for formative work, or insist that any summative work is not only posted to the forum but eventually submitted as a document via Turnitin or other detection software. We should encourage students and staff into the practice of pasting from word anyway so that they have a copy of their primary work. They can do this for forum contributions as well as for larger documents.

29 March 2014, 1:36 AM

Yes, experience may help.

You are right that with student groups of 200-300 persons, not every tutor can read every document.

And it seems to be a question to find different topics for summative work, so that students do not copy good texts from others of previous years or even other universities.

Do you have any experience with other settings for exams, especially with e-portfolios? I am a member of the elearning support team at our distance teaching university and new to this field of work.

01 April 2014, 5:34 AM

We are using Mahara and Moodle. We have a plaigarism tool in Moodle, but not in Mahara. We have had an issue with plaigarism in Mahara, but it has been due to use of the Profile page as a Portfolio page. Students, alumni and faculty all have access to Mahara, but can't view Portfolio pages unless the pages are shared specifically with them, unlike the Profile page -  which can be viewed by anyone in the university system.

As a rule, we now instruct students to limit the information they put on their Profile page, and we recommend students use a secret url to share Portfolio pages with faculty. 

A plaigarism tool in Mahara would be handy and a welcome addition!


Richard Farr's profile picture
Posts: 7

19 February 2015, 2:38 AM

I'd second this notion... a system that highlights 'previously seen' content (the way Turnitin does) would be tremendously useful. Just like the way we use Turnitin, it would allow those creating a portfolio to see where they have originality problems, or have failed to acknowledge a source... and they could fix it.

I'm not necessarily out to 'catch' anybody, but rather to make it plain to see, where content isn't original. Appropriately topped and tailed, there's no reason why material couldn't be copied in, and discussed.

Aaron Wells's profile picture
Posts: 896

19 February 2015, 2:43 PM

I think the most challenging thing about implementing a plagiarism plugin for Mahara, would be determining which pages should be scanned by the system. Our access control system makes this a little complex.

Do you only scan pages that are submitted to a group? Pages made visible to the public? To logged-in users? To institutions?

Richard Farr's profile picture
Posts: 7

24 February 2015, 8:17 PM

Hi Aaron,

Personally, I'd say start with the public Internet. There would remain the possibility of collusion, if several people decided to share, and keep their portfolios private (not indexed)... but it's hard for a tool to 'know' if the portfolio was a product of legitimate group work, and that would be a false positive.

A 'stolen' portfolio that has to remain hidden isn't much of a portfolio anyway!

My own concern is that of excessive copy-pasta in a document, and/or images being 'borrowed' without attribution.

I think the job that Turnitin does is excellent, but for e-Portfolios it's perhaps overkill. I see less need to index personal pages or anything that requires a login. In fact, I'd say Turnitin's database - or at least Turnitin's approach to crawling the Internet - offers a very good start.

I guess my short answer is "anything Google can see, please!"

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