Plagiarism Detection Tools

Note: Memorial does not currently promote or support use of these applications. The information below is provided to help you make your own decision in regards to their use.

Plagiarism detection tools examine text to determine whether content appears in other texts by comparing passages in it to open material published on the Internet or found in a repository. They report the percentage and passages of the text it identified as appearing in other works.

Some software may identify duplicate content within the same text or note possible paraphrased text. Sources of the other works are noted. They do not make statements about potential plagiarism within texts; this judgement would need to be made by the reader or author. They can find text that was copied or that has similar phraseology. They may expedite the review process because of their ability to search multiple sources simultaneously. When informed of their potential use in a course, they can be a possible deterrent from misconduct.

Plagiarism Detection Software as a Teaching Tool

Plagiarism detection software might be an effective teaching tool that helps develop writing skills: for example, grammar, citations and referencing, and paraphrasing. Their use exemplifies a powerful experiential learning activity. By openly talking about and promoting use of these tools, the classroom community’s cohesiveness and trust could be increased; this has a positive impact on student learning engagement. Users would need to be guided on how to use these tools to achieve the desired results. An accidental benefit of their use is that readers and authors may find additional literature relating to their text’s topic.

Drawbacks to the Use of Plagiarism Detection Software

There are some drawbacks to using these tools, such as:

  • they are not very accurate and often miss text matches;
  • they can return false positives;
  • passages translated texts are not discernable;
  • restructured phrases will not match;
  • they cannot determine if ideas have been taken but just text;
  • heavily edited extracts may not be caught;
  • older sources that are not publicly available cannot be compared; and,
  • articles or books which require purchase or subscription cannot be compared.