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Friday, April 10, 2015

Plagiarism - Part 2

So, how does one actually detect plagiarism?

Well, in the academic world one of the most frequently used tools is a program called Turnitin.  Here’s the website:

Since I have access to this program through the university for which I teach I have not gone through the process of creating an account so you will have to explore this on your own.  One of the features I like about Turnitin from an instructor’s perspective is that it breaks down the similarities with student papers by several categories to include websites, journals and other such reference material, and of course to other student papers.  It returns a fairly detailed report for instructors.  The students won’t see the same level of detail that an instructor sees which makes for an interesting discussion when it’s clear they’ve gone to one of the paper mill sites for their assignment.

But there are also a plethora of “free” sites to explore but remember that free is a four-letter word and proceed cautiously.  Just search for free plagiarism checkers and you will find lots of possibilities.

In the end, if you are actually writing and then rewriting your work then your chances of plagiarism are likely very small, especially if you are not frequently engaging in the copy and paste routine.  As I indicated in my last post, it’s best to keep a separate file for all of your research material so that you don’t accidentally include it in your story word-for-word and without proper citation.

I also suspect that if a writer is plagiarizing then her voice in telling the story will be affected.  So, stick with your own voice and your own writing and you should be able to keep the plagiarism devil away from your door, or at least from your word processing program.


  1. Not easy to figure out where to draw the line sometimes. We want to include certain information, but we have to figure out the best way to do it.

  2. At our library we used to hold a poetry contest each April. We always checked for plagiarism - usually it was only snippets of someone's poem that we found. Once a whole poem was used and we quietly disqualified the student. I always hoped he had learned his lesson.