A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing? Critical Discourse Analysis of Five Online Automated Paraphrasing Sites
Research on academic integrity used to focus more on student character and behaviour. Now this research includes wider viewing of this issue as a current teaching and learning challenge which requires pedagogical intervention. It is now the responsibility of staff and institutions to treat the creation of a learning environment supporting academic integrity as a teaching and learning priority. Plagiarism by simply copying other people’s work is a well-known misconduct which undermines academic integrity; moreover, technological developments have evolved plagiarism to include the generation and copying of computer-generated text. Automated paraphrasing tool (APT) websites have become increasingly common, offering students machine-generated rephrased text that students input from their own or others’ writing. These developments present a creeping erosion of academic integrity under the guise of legitimate academic assistance. This also has implications for arrival of large language model (LLM) generative AI tools. In accessing these sites, students must discern what is a legitimate use of the tool and what may constitute breaching academic integrity. This study critically analysed the text from five online paraphrasing websites to examine the discourses used to legitimise and encourage APT use in both appropriate and inappropriate ways. We conceptualised these competing discourses using Sheep and Wolf metaphors. In addition, we offer a metaphor of the Educator as a Shepherd to become aware of APT website claims and assist students to develop critical language awareness when exposed to these sites. Educators can assist students with this through knowledge of how these sites use language to entice users to circumvent learning.