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To Arms! — the fight against plagiarism

February 22, 2011

We promised the Liberal Studies faculty we’d provide some open source options for detecting plagiarism.

Of course, the best defense is a good offense. The Virtual Academic Integrity Lab at the University of Maryland developed a list of best practices in designing plagiarism-resistant assignments.

If you suspect plagiarism, there are a number of free detection products available. Since they seem to come and go very quickly here are some questions you may want to answer about a new product.

  • What does it check student papers against? The web? Databases? A collection of submitted papers? 
  • Can students submit their own papers? How much bother is it if you have to submit papers? Do you have to cut and paste? Can you upload a whole file?
  • How quickly are the results returned to you?
  • Are the results easy to comprehend quickly?
  • Is the information in the report helpful?
  • Do you need an account? Even a free one?
  • Does it work with the operating system and word processing software that our students use?

Some current products. I did a quick test using text from an article in the Journal of Higher Education.

  • Plagium, http://www.plagium.com, searches repositories and journals that are not open source, worked quickly, had to cut and paste, but results came back very quickly
  • Academic Plagiarism, http://www.AcademicPlagiarism.com,  found only 68% unoriginal content from the test text, results came back slower than with Plagium, you can either cut and past or upload a file.
  • Paper Rater, http://www.paperrater.com, found 95% unoriginal content from the Journal of Higher Education article, very quick, they grade your grammar and word choice, as well, cut and paste only
  • Doc Cop, www.doccop.com, you have to wait for the report to be sent via email and you have to submit at least two items at a time, it didn’t find the article, you can only upload entire files.
  • Viper, http://www.scanmyessay.com, quick, cut & paste, found the unoriginal content, but the report doesn’t identify the source as the others did.

Happy detecting! ~ krb

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