A brief introduction to this increasingly essential category of education technology.
Guest Post collaboratively written with Jennifer Scottson.
Since the beginning of time, man has tried to find ways to beat the system and get away with less work. Today's computer technologies have made it easy for individuals to try to use different methods to get away with turning in work that is not theirs. Technology has also helped to expose this in ways that are more effective and easier to use than ever before. Plagiarism detectors help to detect and prevent plagiarism and keep people honest in their approaches to claiming works.
How do plagiarism detectors work?
Most plagiarism detectors work in similar ways. The document that needs to be checked is uploaded into the system and scanned. It is compared to a database of documents that are compiled in several ways. The plagiarism detector crawls through the Internet and compiles articles, journals, books, and other sources. Added to this are client uploads. This allows for a huge compilation of different types of documents. The scan compares the uploaded document to the other documents in the system. Once the scan is complete, results are given to the user so that they know the exact areas that were flagged for plagiarism.
Who uses plagiarism detectors?
Many types of people and organizations can benefit from these detectors. The education field predominantly uses these types of systems due to the nature of their work. This helps them to prevent student plagiarism and unfair grading. Businesses and other institutions also use these to be sure that they are not publishing plagiarized content. Individuals can also use them to make sure that content that they create is not too similar to other works.
Top plagiarism detectors
There are many plagiarism tools on the Internet. Here is a listing of several detectors and a brief synopsis of each one to give you an idea of what is available.
1. TurnItIn (turnitin.com) is “the world’s leading academic plagiarism prevention solution and originality checking tool”. This is one of several popular offerings from Plagiarism.org. According to this summary of effectiveness document, after two years of use, institutions employing TurnItIn often show improvements of 20 to 35 percent or more in terms of reducing submissions of unoriginal work by students; and improvements of 35 to 70 percent after 4 years. This is a paid service (that seems well worth the price).
2. iThenticate. (ithenitcate.com) is Plagiarism.org's solution for scholarly publishing, and claims “the world's largest scholarly comparison database”. This paid service compares submitted documents against its database of current and archived web pages, research articles, and content from scholarly journals. They have separate pricing options for authors and researchers (starting at $50 for one submission with up to 5 revisions) and organizations.
3. Write Check (writecheck.com) is another member of Plagiarism.org's suite of offerings and is geared directly towards the student (if a student's school doesn't have their own service, or the student just wants to be really proactive). This service also helps the student by offering grammar and spell checks so that the student can be confident when turning in their written work. Services start at about $7 for one paper or $25 for 5 papers (each option comes with 3 resubmissions).
4. Plagiarism-Checker (plagiarism-checker.info): What better endorsement than some enthusiastic testimonials? “I am new to Plagiarism Checker.info and I have found the experience surprisingly great … It has been a great help during my research work when I used to paste text in the textbox and press the search button. I will recommend the software to any researcher seeking a user-friendly experience.” – Carol from Canada. “I prefer the software because of the accuracy and the ease with which I can check work. I will also recommend it to my students … I hope they will love it too! Now, I can check my assignments even at odd hours quite easily without worrying over the accuracy of the results. ” – Salma, Bangladesh
5. PlagAware (plagaware.com): According to this January, 2011 article on “plagiarismtoday.com”, PlagAware took top honors in a ‘plagiarism showdown' in which a professor and blog author put 48 different plagiarism checkers through 42 different tests. The final grade was determined by how well the checker performed, how professional they were, how usable their workflow was, and how quickly they returned results. (By the way, TurnItIn ranked second). PlagAware is currently offering 50 free ‘scan credits' for new registrants.
6. Copyscape (copyscape.com) is an online detector that searches for copies of your submitted content anywhere on the web, for free. Their Premium service provides more powerful plagiarism detection and a host of other features. They also offer a service (Copysentry) that can help protect a website by automatically scanning the web and emailing you when new copies of your content are found.
Are you using any of these applications at your school? What has your experience been? Would you recommend this tool to others? With so many plagiarism detectors, do you believe that the rise in plagiarism that is enabled by the availability of information over the Internet is being kept in check? We'd sure love to hear your feedback!
Jennifer Scottson is a professional writer who enjoys writing on many different subjects. She has purchased plagiarism software with a Barnes and Noble coupon, to ensure her work is unlike anyone else's. Jennifer has been writing all her life, and professionally for over five years.