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Means to combat plagiarism? Technology? Learning? What is likely to be more successful:

David Matthews reports on debate about whether claiming students’ IP rights could halt plagiarism

A senior figure at Oxford Brookes University has suggested taking control of undergraduates’ intellectual property rights to stop them selling their essays on the internet.

John Francis, director of research and business development, said that the market in essays was “quite difficult to control” and that the university currently had no “formal rights” to stop it.

The idea has sparked a debate on how to stop the sale of essays and has also drawn claims that any blanket ownership of students’ intellectual property (IP) could be illegal.

Writing on JISCmail, an academic email discussion forum, Mr Francis said that an increasing number of students were selling their essays and that this could potentially damage the university’s reputation.

“We have been considering ways to strengthen our position on the practice to prevent it,” he wrote. “One way could be to claim ownership of all undergraduate and postgraduate IP. We only claim IP from PG [postgraduate] research students at the moment.”

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