“If you steal from one author it's plagiarism; if you steal from many it's research.” - Wilson Mizner

Plagiarism is technically illegal. According to the law, plagiarism generally falls under copyright and it’s the idea that you’re presenting an idea or a piece of work as if it originated from you and that you are the original author. While illegal, it’s a fairly common practice, especially online.

To combat it, there are tools and software. Here are some of the best ones.

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The Different Types of Plagiarism Tools

Plagiarism is a problem that a lot of teachers and tutors have to deal with. Whether it’s because a student is lazy or struggling, some decide to copy part of all of their work from another source.

What types of plagiarism checkers are there?
Most modern plagiarism-checkers are digital tools that scour databases and the internet. (Source: StartupStockPhotos)

Teachers have tools and resources they can use to stop or detect plagiarism and the most common tools are plagiarism-checkers; programs that can show if work has been copied and to what extent.

Some plagiarism-checkers allow you to compare two texts, which is useful if the teacher has an idea of which text or source the student has copied from. In this instance, the teacher just needs to copy and paste the two texts and the software will take care of the rest.

The most common types of plagiarism-checkers will check the text against a body of work online. Websites, online encyclopedias, blog articles, etc. can all be analysed, with the best tools checking for plagiarism across almost the entire web.

Some will even check against other documents and texts that have been submitted for analysis, which can show the user how and where text has been copied.

Find out more about plagiarism.

Why Should You Use a Plagiarism-Checker?

Plagiarism isn’t the easiest thing to detect and you probably don’t have hours to read tonnes of different texts and sources to check for it, which is why so many tools have been created to facilitate the process.

Why should you use a plagiarism checker?
Even students can use plagiarism checkers to ensure that their work isn't coincidentally the same as somebody else's. (Source: janeb13)

Certain plagiarism-checkers, especially those for academia, can be made available for teachers on their computers. They'll check for plagiarism while the teacher is correcting or marking the work. However, in most cases, the teacher will need to manually check for plagiarism by using a particular tool. They can choose to either do this for every piece of work they correct or just for work they suspect has been copied from elsewhere.

Sometimes there’s a sentence or paragraph that seems suspect as it doesn’t fit with the rest of the text or doesn’t conform to the student’s usual writing style or vocabulary that’s used incorrectly elsewhere in the text or has never been used by the student before. This may signal to the teacher that it’s worth checking for plagiarism.

These tools aren’t just for catching students who’ve been cheating. Authors can also use these tools to see if their work has been copied and published online.

Find out more about how to detect plagiarism.

Copyscape, an Online Plagiarism-Checker

Copyscape is an online plagiarism-checker that authors can use to see if their work has been copied and teachers can also use it to see if their students have copied something online. Just have to go to the website and insert the URL of your text. The site will take care of checking that nobody else has used this text.

You can use the site 5 times a month for free, which means if a teacher wants to check several students’ work, they may need a premium account. You can also upload a student’s text if it’s been submitted as a digital file. The site will take care of checking whether this text appears elsewhere online.

Plagiarisma

The online plagiarism-checker Plagiarisma is designed with students in mind. Students can use this tool to check that their work doesn’t appear elsewhere online.

What types of plagiarism checkers are there?
There are plagiarism checkers for students and teachers. (Source: Free-Photos)

Why should they check for plagiarism if they know they haven’t copied anyone?

In some cases, a student may have coincidentally written text that’s the same as another author’s work without even realising it. They may have rewritten one idea in a way that makes it look like another author’s work and there are many cases in which students have accidentally plagiarised someone else’s work. Even if it wasn’t intentional, that doesn’t mean that they’re free from punishment, which is why it’s always a good idea to check.

Check out our tips for finding plagiarism.

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Small SEO Tools

Small SEO Tools is another plagiarism-checker that can be used by students, teachers, and webmasters and provides results as a percentage.

It'll highlight text that appears elsewhere in red and give you the percentage of sentences that can be found on other sites, which means you can see to what extent the work copies other sources. However, it’ll also detect common expressions and count them as plagiarism.

The site is quite easy to use. Just copy your text into the text box and then click on “Check Plagiarism” to scan the document or text.

PlagScan, a Plagiarism-Checker for Universities

PlagScan is regularly used by universities but can also be used by teachers or private tutors. You can try it out for free online to see if it’s right for you.

The advantage of this tool is that you can check against online resources as well as academic sources.

PlagTracker

PlagTracker is one of the most effective plagiarism-checkers. It uses a database of over 20 million documents and websites. Almost nothing will fall through the cracks.

You can use the basic free version, too.

Viper, an Offline Plagiarism-Checker

Unlike most of the plagiarism-checkers we’ve seen, Viper is a plagiarism-checker that you can download.

You'll need to install it onto your computer to make use of it. Once installed, you can check for plagiarism.

Compilatio, a Plagiarism-Checker for Teachers

Compilatio is a tool that’s regularly found in schools and universities. This program allows teachers and lecturers to have students’ work automatically checked when they submit it. The more it’s used, the better it works as it adds these texts to its database. It’s an effective tool for fighting plagiarism., which is why a lot of top universities opt to use it.

When it comes to awarding degrees, the work must be original. A student’s grade and qualification represent the work they’ve done and if it doesn’t, the punishment can be quite severe.

Find out more about the consequences of plagiarism.

The Disadvantages of Using Plagiarism-Checkers

Using plagiarism-checkers can help students in their everyday lives. They can help teachers to discover whether students have copied their work, either intentionally or unintentionally, from another source. These tools do have their limits, though, as they work by checking sentences and paragraphs in the text against other texts online or in their database, which means common expressions can also be flagged as plagiarism.

It’s always a good idea for the teacher to check the results.

What are the disadvantages of plagiarism checkers?
Just because two texts are the same, it doesn't mean that one copied off the other. (Source: StartupStockPhotos)

They can also be ineffective when the sentences or paragraphs have been slightly changed as many of them only work with expressions that have been copied word for word. However, students can circumvent the checkers by changing a few words or rephrasing certain sentences.

It’s also very difficult to discover plagiarism with hard-copies. You can always copy a few sentences or a paragraph into a plagiarism-checker or search engine to see if it appears elsewhere online. Checking a full text, however, can be difficult and time-consuming. Documents that have been printed out or copied from a book that doesn’t appear online are also hard to check for plagiarism.

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Joseph

Joseph is a French and Spanish to English translator, language enthusiast, and blogger.