Web cheats get online for Google Scholar

Google has unveiled its latest beta search facility for academics, students and freelancers to allow them an instant find through millions of pages of hefty information.

The online service means any internet user can gain keyword access to research papers, university websites, academic books or even finished theses.

It has been tested by the California-based company and aims to provide a one-stop search through abstracts, pre-prints, published papers and technical reports in all major fields.

Results have already been commended for being more relevant by showing how often research has been cited by other academics rather than its overall hit popularity.

While this aspect of the service has been embraced by users, academics in particular have expressed concern about a 'copy and paste' culture, emerging in the wake of Google Scholar.

They say the accuracy and speed of the search engine could lead to a rise in how much information in essays is simply lifted from online sources.

According to the Plagiarism Advisory Service (PAS), a quarter of students have cheated by lifting material off the web and passing it off as their own.

The group already provides universities with special software to detect rogue students, which it said it would keep on using as a more powerful alternative to Google.

The Scholar search is a website that other academics argue should be welcomed, and if used properly - could actually aid the fight against conscious plagiarists.

They argue that if Google is used correctly, it could well deliver quick and reliable information for students and academics alike, without leading to an increase in internet lifting.

This is because students, who currently seem undeterred by plagiarism laws, would in the future be more cautious about their sources given the advances of Web searching.

In speaking with the Daily Telegraph, one academic confirmed the sheer vastness of cyber space often fools essayists into thinking lecturers will not be able to trace the original source.

Separately, the site promises good news for all those supporting 'open access publishing,' as publicly funded research in Britain will now appear more readily available.

Lobby groups said this new visibility with research and actual access to materials was a welcome step for academic, publishing and research communities.

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