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Interpreting the Authorship Report

Authorship Investigation does not detect contract cheating. Instead, as the name suggests, it investigates a file’s authorship using the authorship prediction engine and then presents the evidence in the form of the Authorship Report. None of the results in the report are empirical evidence that contract cheating has taken place, but together they will give you an indication of whether or not the investigation file warrants further scrutiny by the appropriate body within your institution. This tool should be used as one step in a larger process to combat contract cheating.

The Readability Scale

Readability uses the Flesch-Kincaid reading ease scale. Assuming the text is grammatically correct, this scale estimates how easy the text is to read and understand. This scale is visualized in the report to allow you to quickly digest the variance in readability.

The Flesch-Kincaid reading ease scale

The Flesch-Kincaid reading ease scale attributes a numeric value to a piece of writing that indicates how easy that material is to read. A score of less than 50 is approximately college level writing, 50-70 is approximately high school level writing, and above 70 is approximately grade school level writing. This article will help you learn more about the Flesch-Kincaid readability score and how it is calculated.

Document Information

The metadata pulled from .docx files can sometimes be the biggest indicator that there may have been possible academic misconduct in a submission.

 

The ‘author’ and ‘last modified by’ results can be the first indicators that contract cheating has occurred. If the results for these fields are anyone other than the presumed author there is cause for concern. While there are explanations for why these fields may contains the name of someone other than the presumed author (for example, an author may use a blank file created by an instructor or peer for the basis of their document) they provide a strong case for further investigation.

 

The ‘date created’, ‘last modified’, ‘total editing time’, and ‘revisions’ results can tell you how much time has been spent on the paper. Short editing times on lengthier documents should be noted as they indicated the copying and pasting of content.

Punctuation

The use of punctuation in a document is often unique to authors. How an author uses spaces, dashes, and slashes is habitual and unlikely to change between documents.

 

If the investigation file has different punctuation to the comparison file(s) then there is a cause for concern. A file that contains a mixture of the various styles of punctuation is an indicator of joint authorship.

 

The ‘phrases per sentence’ score will convey the sentence complexity within a document and an author’s grammatical understanding of English.

Vocabulary

The features in the vocabulary section of the report offer insight into the stylistic preferences of an author. The results for each of the lexical features will differ from file to file, but files by the same author should have relatively similar results.

 

Comparing the results for the vocabulary features gives you insight to the stylistic fingerprint of an author. The ‘unique word usage’ and ‘vocabulary richness’ scores will show the depth of an author’s vocabulary.

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