Artificial intelligence: Will it soon take the place of plagiarism?

"Rates of AI-generated content will only increase as students adopt these tools more widely," said Alon Yamin, CEO and co-founder of Copyleaks in a statement.

Nowadays, students are much more likely to rely on completing assignments using artificial intelligence than plagiarizing someone else’s work. Should we be surprised?

That’s according to a new study by Copyleaks, an AI-based text analysis company, which analyzed plagiarism trends among tens of thousands of college and high school students across seven countries (including the U.S.) from January 2023 to January 2024.

The most prominent finding reveals a whopping 76% surge in the number of AI-generated content in students’ assignments during this time. At the same time, however, plagiarism rates decreased by 51%, reinforcing the need for effective guardrails and policies surrounding the technology’s use in education. Furthermore, the U.S. saw some of the highest plagiarism rates in the nation at 30%.

“Rates of AI-generated content will only increase as students adopt these tools more widely,” said Alon Yamin, CEO and co-founder of Copyleaks in a statement. “As such, oversight is critical for empowering content authenticity and originality.”

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K12 and higher education are now met with the difficult task of harnessing the complexity and sophistication of AI technologies, the report concludes. Here are some additional findings for you to consider as you continue efforts surrounding AI and academic integrity:

  • A gradual adoption: Over time, more and more students bought into leveraging AI for their school work. In January 2023, for instance, just 12% of assignments contained AI-generated content. That number then grew to 25% by the end of 2023.
  • Online schools see the highest rates: Unsurprisingly, e-learning institutions have the most difficult time restricting AI use and plagiarism. Copyleaks detected AI in 26% of assignments. Another 39% of content was found to be plagiarized.
  • Higher ed’s challenge: The researchers made a point to differentiate levels of cheating between career and technical colleges and community colleges. Most notably, plagiarism was found to be more common in community colleges (32%).

“While there has been a decrease in the rate of plagiarism, it still persists, whether it be from GenAI outputs or students themselves,” Yamin said. “That’s why it remains an absolute necessity for academic institutions to adopt comprehensive solutions that can detect AI-generated content and plagiarism to ensure full transparency and maintain academic integrity.”

Micah Ward
Micah Ward
Micah Ward is a District Administration staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

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