Detecting Plagiarism

Detecting Plagiarism

Your ability to detect plagiarism will go a long way in helping students refine their research skills and develop their ethical and moral character. Some of the apparent clues to detecting plagiarism include unusual formatting (especially when it is a copy and paste task), content that does not match with the topic (points to fillers taken from electronic sources), historical content (references taken from earlier works of similar nature), sudden changes in writing style (prose turns to dramatic and mixed use of US/British spelling), incomplete data tables (points to partial references) etc. However, these days there are several tools to detect plagiarism. Here, we take a look at some of them.

IThenticate ( A paid online tool, iThenticate helps editors, authors and researchers prevent misconduct by comparing manuscripts against its database of over 34 billion web pages and 129 million content items, including 36 million published works from over 465 scholarly publisher participants. ( A site to cross check for news articles and plagiarism from journalistic sources and reports. It is a free online website.

CopyScape ( An online software that works in partnership with Yahoo and Google search engines. Copyscape checks to find copies of web pages online. Two premium services offered are "copyscape premium" and "copysentry" to help detect content theft and fraud.

Dustball ( A site that is offered both free and as subscription based service. This plagiarism detector will find plagiarized text in homework and other essays / reports. ( A tool that checks for duplicate content in over 190 languages and compares with content on the Internet using popular search engines. Offers a paid premium service that checks across books and scholarly articles as well.

Turnitin ( A complete plagiarism check tool that checks papers against 24+ billion web pages, 300+ million student papers and 110,000+ publications. Additional services include helping instructors by providing rich feedback on student written work and aiding students through peer review. Popular with academic institutions and publishing houses.

Viper ( This is another online tool popular among writers, instructors and editors. It is free and readily accessible on the Windows platform.

These are some of the tools that you can use as an instructor to be able to detect plagiarism in academic work submitted by students. However, the challenge would be to know how to respond to plagiarized work. If your school does not have a clear counter-plagiarism policy, chances are it might be difficult to enforce correction and guidance in a consistent manner.

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