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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Online Plagiarism Checkers

Most college students I know are terrified of accidentally plagiarizing a source in their essays – and for good reason. The definition of “plagiarism” doesn’t account for intentionality, so even if the act of plagiarism was purely accidental on the student’s part, s/he still gets a zero on the assignment and the possibility of being labeled a plagiarist on his or her permanent record.  How’s that for scary?

There are some tools online that can help alleviate some of the worry possible plagiarism creates.  They’re called plagiarism checkers  and several of them are available for free!

You need to be aware, though that these plagiarism checkers will not catch all types of plagiarism.  They search only for words taken verbatim from a source catalogued in whatever index they are searching through.  If you have accidentally mirrored a source’s way of organizing certain ideas too closely or used a source’s ideas without giving credit to the source, you are guilty of plagiarism but these checkers will be unable to make you aware of it. 

These tools may not be sophisticated enough to catch more than the most basic forms of plagiarism, but they are better than nothing and can give you a little more piece of mind if you know your paraphrasing skills are lacking.

Photo credit: Abardwell