đź“ť The 101 on Detecting Plagiarized Work

Have you ever purchased articles for your blog sites from a freelancer? Are you sure what you received is worth the money you paid? Regardless of where and from whom you have purchased the articles, you may want to double check to ensure it doesn’t belong to someone else.

Article written by: Razvan

Understanding Plagiarism

Plagiarism has become an ever-increasing problem with the invention of the Internet, mainly because of the unlimited access it provides to information from all over the world. Right in this very moment, someone might be copying parts of something you wrote, then claim them as his or her own original words & thoughts. At the same time, someone else might be sneakier and alter your text ever so slightly to make it appear original. Now imagine people plagiarizing content like this at every minute or second of the day!

However, plagiarism isn’t just about copying other people’s works and claiming they are original. Below you’ll find a list of the most common plagiarism types, all of which are unethical no matter if they are intentional or accidental:

  • the act of borrowing or stealing words, ideas or thoughts with the intent of claiming them as your own;
  • not citing or giving credit to the sources, or even lying about the origins;
  • partially citing the sources;
  • omitting quotation marks around a quote;
  • using other people’s works more than your own thoughts, words & ideas.

Why People Plagiarize

Plagiarism is widespread among students who are willing to do anything to pass an exam or receive a good grade, or even skip education altogether. However, this comes with the high risk of being expelled or having their degrees invalidated at a later moment in their lives, like it happened many times in the past, which can quickly turn someone’s life upside down.

Moreover, with the rise of online freelancing platforms, the problem started growing even more prominent. Nowadays anyone has access to a myriad of independent writing contractors from all over the world, and many of them are not even professionals since he or she usually lack the appropriate skills and knowledge.

Many self-proclaimed professionals with no certifications or degrees in writing tend to care more about making money than their clients’ needs. This disregard has led to a trend where freelance writers copy other people’s works and alter them in astounding ways to pass any plagiarism checking mechanisms. For them, it’s quick money. However, for you, it can lead to catastrophic consequences.

There are two obvious solutions to avoid plagiarism, which are simple if you care enough about ethics, and you can use either or both of them:

  • citing the sources, both for text and multimedia;
  • writing using your own words, ideas, and thoughts.

To Use or Not To Use Plagiarism Checkers

A common misconception is that plagiarism checkers are used only by plagiarists. Partly it is true since this is how they test their new tricks, but these checkers are used by everyone from students to teachers and professional writers. For example, sometimes you may accidentally use the same expressions or words that someone else has used before, in which case a checker is a sure way to avoid the hassle of accidental plagiarism.

Now, the developers of these checkers put constant efforts to detect any attempts at bypassing the detection process. Therefore, most of the tools out there that are worth mentioning are already aware of the usual tricks people use to circumvent them. Even if someone finds a new method, as with any previous tricks, it won’t last long until the developers adapt his or her tools again.

Other Signs That May Indicate Plagiarism

Before seeing what is available regarding online plagiarism checking tools, there’s one more thing to mention. If you did not write the work, it’s strongly recommended that you first read it, because some signs can easily indicate plagiarism:

  • if you see two sentences that are entirely different in tone, one written like a teenager and the other like an academic teacher, there’s a high chance that the same person did not write those sentences;

  • if you see different fonts, text sizes or formatting mixed within the same paragraph, it could indicate that parts of it were copied & pasted from another source;

  • if you stumble across a fact or information that is outdated and not meaningful to the work, that’s another sign of trouble;

  • if you notice changes in point of views, with paragraphs written in both 1st & 3rd person perspectives, that is yet another potential sign;

  • if the overall work doesn’t match its topic, doesn’t sound like the words of the person who should have written it, or if you only have a feeling that something is off, you need to investigate further.

Free vs. Paid Plagiarism Checkers

There are many online tools available to check for plagiarism, both free and paid. The difference is clearly in the quality of detection, the database of sources used for cross-checking, as well as in the limitations imposed:

  • for a general quick check on a short document, a free checker will do just fine, although it would be best to use multiple free checkers to detect as many problems as possible since each tool works differently;

  • for regular checking, for larger documents, or for works that are very sensitive to plagiarism, a paid solution is a must.

That being said, below you’ll find a list of the ten most popular online plagiarism checking tools:

  • Plagramme: one of the top leading plagiarism checkers, with multilingual support, sophisticated detection and detailed results; it offers basic support for free checking of documents with just a similarity percentage for results;

  • PlagScan: with a unique algorithm that avoids checking against every single unrelated text out there, this tool offers solutions to both individual users & organizations; besides providing a sample plagiarism report, you can subscribe for a free trial that can check up to 1,000 words;

  • Copyscape: this tool was designed for checking web content, while also offering tools to protect your website’s content and be instantly notified if someone copies something; with both free & paid plans, this is the go-to system to protect your website;

  • Noplag: this service offers support for both document & web content checking, it relies on an extensive database of millions of academic publications as well as search engine indexes;

  • Quetext: a straightforward tool for quickly checking small papers for free, with a paid plan for documents more significant than 500 words, this is one of the intelligent checkers that relies on basic artificial intelligence;

  • Grammarly: both proofreader & plagiarism checker, this is another popular service with access to large databases of academic works and search engines; it can be used online, as a desktop application or integrated into Microsoft Office;

  • Small SEO Tools’ Plagiarism Checker: one of the most used free services for fast plagiarism checking of up to 1,000 words per document, although relying only on search engine indexes as its database;

  • PaperRater: developed by industry experts, this is a proofreader and grammar & plagiarism checker based on artificial intelligence, with both free (but very limited) and paid plans;

  • Turnitin: known for the many attempts to trick it, this is a comprehensive paid solution that is continuously evolving and adapting, with access to many source databases;

  • Viper: a rival and alternative to Turnitin, this service addresses the problems and limitations of the latter with powerful features and flexible pricing.