Let's examine some of Turnitin's marketing claims:
But it's not Turnitin we should really be worried about.
We should be more concerned about the damage being done to language and consequently to thinking skills than we are about micromanaging alleged plagiarism. I cherish the fond hope that in a far flung corner of the campus, the English language is alive and well. Sadly, from where I sit, it looks close to death. I've spent some time over the last week marking student dissertations. The truth that this reveals is that even some of the most talented science students (and I'm certainly not criticizing the students for the deficits I point to in this post) can hardly string two words together. In their desperate attempts to avoid being accused of plagiarism, even the few students whose language skills escaped secondary education relatively unscathed turn out inelegant and massacred phrases which obscure meaning in their paranoia to avoid published text. Respectful "plagiarism" with appropriate attribution is not a crime - the loss of language and the death of meaning is.
JISC tells us that Developed by iParadigms LLC, Turnitin offers a solution to the growing problem that is 'cut and paste' plagiarism. This is a corrosive falsehood. Turnitin is not a solution to any of the problems in higher education, rather it represents one of the biggest problems we currently face, the growing tendency to remove ownership of learning from the student and to try to micromanage every aspect of their knowledge.
Turnitin is just a symptom of what's wrong with higher education.