Checking your papers and posts for plagiarism is important if you run a serious business, write an essay for college, or are finishing up an important official release. You should make certain that everything that you publish is original, because you don’t want the owner of the content to come after you and accuse you of using their content without their permission, maybe even attracting the attention of their lawyers. If you have a blog, you have to write original content, where possible, so that you won’t be punished by Google for duplicate content. If you quote, use proper citation, mentioning the author, title of publication, and page number or URL of the source. While most content creators would agree with this “link for quote” approach, some wouldn’t. In these cases or in cases of doubt, you need to contact the creator first, and ask for permission. This is extremely important if you plan on publishing something with commercial interests.
If you are a teacher or some type of instructor at an educational institution or you need to check the work of people regularly for originality, you can use a wide variety of tools for a plagiarism check that can help you to see if work is original or if you need to tell the author that they should quote a source for their obviously copied work. Here is list of ten sites that you can use, along with a quick review of each one and our results from a test run of the content.
For our sample purposes, we have used content from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plagiarism to see how each tool performs.
1. Copyscape.com (Free/Paid)
This tool is free, but if you want more results and details, you need to purchase the premium version of this tool. The premium version charges you five cents per page for the plagiarism check for each page that is checked with the tool. You simply cut and paste your URL into the given search box and the tool searches around online to see if there are copies of your content on the net.
Pros: You can get an accurate picture of any of your content that is being copied and the magnitude of that being copied;
Cons: You have to pay 5 cents per copy check
When we plugged in the URL of the content from the site, we received a list of 10 sites that apparently have similar content. The content listed includes exact matches, content that is similar to your copy, partial copies and content that has been modified from your original form.
2. Grammarly.com (Free Trial/Paid) Winner “Accuracy”
This tool is free to run your content, but once the results come up you are prompted to sign up for a free 7 day trial. Although you can cancel your subscription before those seven days are up, you can also choose a subscription plan – the options are $29.95 a month, $59.95 quarterly or $139.95 annually.
Pros: The information that is given back to you is pretty accurate.
Cons: This is a paid side and the details given for the content are pretty intense, most people won’t really get it unless they have a university degree in English.
We took a couple of paragraphs of the content and pasted it into the box. The results we got back included a score of 42 out of 100, “weak, needs revision”. Unoriginal text was detected, there was some issue with sentence structure, and there were six apparent issues with the writing style and vocabulary use. Of course, you would have to pay for a membership to see what those issues were.
3. Writecheck.com (Paid only)
This tool is not free, in fact it actually requires that you sign up for an account and choose a payment option, the lowest cost one being $7.95 per paper check. This site is geared towards university or college students who want to turn a paper in to their instructor and want to ensure that it is accurate and well-cited as well as being free from plagiarism. Upon submission, the writing is checked for similarities and phrases and quotes that are not cited against 250 million student papers, 110,000 published works and the world wide web.
Pros: This is one of the most comprehensive plagiarism checkers available online.
Cons: It’s not free and can be quite costly for a single use. There is no option for a free check to see if you like the tool before you buy.
4. Plagscan.com (Paid only)
This is another way to detect plagiarism that is not free. You can’t even run a free trial to see if you like the interface of this tool, it prompts you immediately to sign up for a paid account running on a system that they call “Plag Points”. Each “Plag Point” allows you to analyse 100 words or a fraction of a document. Obviously, we did not test this one out, but it seems like it is pretty much on par as far as cost compared to other paid sites. There is quite a bit of detail that is returned to you as the user when you run a scan using this tool.
Pros: You can cancel your membership if you do try the site and don’t like it.
Cons: You can’t try the service before you make a purchase. If you want to cancel your membership you need to explain why. As far as we are concerned, if you are not happy, there is a reason, but you shouldn’t have to explain yourself.
5. Turnitin.com (Paid only)
This site is geared towards teaching professionals and is generally meant for institutions who wish to open an account in the name of the school. The motto of the site is to prevent plagiarism and motivate students. The school has to get a quote of what it would cost for a membership, then the paper in question can be entered into the system to be checked. Originality reports details where matches are found to other papers in the database. Sources are listed and instructors can filter so that quotes are eliminated. The cost of this program may not be worth it if you are not using it every day for several projects daily.
Pros: Very useful for instructors – can create a data base of students and where they stand – can be used as a tool to help students to strengthen their writing skills.
Cons: Geared towards schools and instructors, not webmasters.
6. Plagium.com (Free, but…)
This site is free to use, but does request a donation if you like the service. When we entered a few paragraphs of text from the linked page, it returned 9 possible content matches. Five of those had copied the content 100%, although one of those was the original site. You can get a pretty good idea of how original or copied the content is.
Pros: The program is completely free to use.
Cons: There is not much detail around what you are looking at as far as analysis, but the program does provide a list of sites where duplicate content has been found.
7. Scanmyessay.com (Free, but…)
This site shows a free download, but we did not do the free download because we didn’t want to deal with the nag that would pop up for payment after the initial trial. We just found this one to be mentioned quite a bit online and thought it was a good program to include in our list of possible content copy checkers. There is a full description of how the downloaded program works to identify plagiarism and it seems to hit all of the highlights that most programs do. As we said before, we are not sure if you would need to pay for the program after a download, because we did not proceed with the download.
Pros: Free download
Cons: Not sure if there is a fee to use the program or if you are charged to see the results that come up after you have scanned your material.
8. Plagiarism-detect.com (Free) Winner “Free” (Currently offline)
As far as free sites to check for plagiarism go, this one is quite detailed and pretty accurate. The results were quick and listed right there on the screen for us to see, so it took the guesswork out of what we were checking. The interface of the tool was quite plain and simple to view, so it was not at all confusing. On the left two boxes show up that show the number of the words in the text and the sentences that are believed to be copied from another source. You can save the results, print them or insert a new project by clearing out the box. This is a pretty good program for a freebie.
Pros: Free to use, fast results. The details are clear and simple to read and provide a good amount of information that is useful.
Cons: None, that we could see right away, but if we continued to use the tool, some may arise for sure.
9. Dustball.com (Free, but…)
This is another free tool that lets you copy your content into the box to be checked. We did just that and found that the exact content that we had copied into other free sites did not return the same amount of accuracy. Only two short sentence fragments were returned as “possible plagiarism” which does not instill much confidence, especially given the detail we saw in some of the earlier free programs we tried with much more detailed results.
Pros: Free to use with a paid version also available.
Cons: Not sure how accurate the free version really is. The more text you paste in the longer the check takes. If you are dealing with a long essay, it seems like the check could take an hour.
10. Plagiarisma.net (Free, but…)
This free tool allows you to cut and paste your content into the box and select several search engines to run the check. The end result pops up with a list of sites that contain duplicate content. This site showed the actual content that was duplicated (for free), not just the sites that had the content. Not all of the sites that were listed by Grammarly and Copyscape showed up, interestingly enough. We did not really want to trust the results on this one since we saw more accurate results from other free sites that we had already tried.
Pros: Free to use.
Cons: Not too certain how accurate the results are.
Tips For Webmasters
When you run a plagiarism check it is important to understand the results. Paid tools probably have more instructions than free ones, so that is important to note. If you are looking for a free tool, then the selection of good ones is pretty limited. Anyway, you need to try and compare them to see which one you like the best. Some have complicated interfaces while others are quite plain and simple to use. If you only plan on checking a few documents once in a while and are not too concerned with accuracy, then a free online tool may be enough for your purposes.
If, however, you are a teacher or have your own website and are concerned about content theft (without proper accreditation) then you should consider a paid tool that will provide you with accurate information and where exactly you can find your copied content. Many people will copy your content and that, in itself is fine, so long as they give you a backlink for that content and provide the source of the original content in their reproduction.
Unfortunately, not so many people are that honest and you may have to hunt around online to ensure that you are not being ripped off by content grabbers. If it is a big concern to you, then you can use certain types of anti-theft publication tools where the content cannot be easily copied or printed if someone wants to reproduce it.
Anti-copying can be made possible by disabling the right click option when people scan your content (Source). However, in many cases, current browsers are immune to these “right-click prevention”-scripts, and several of these methods are not working any longer.
Check online often and run your content to see if it has been reproduced. Even with the most stringent anti-copying measures, there are still people that will find a way to copy your content without your permission. Take all of the necessary precautions and make sure that your content is not stolen from your site.
Do you have any tips to share on how to prevent plagiarism being a webmaster? Please share in the comments below…
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Turnitin Feedback Studio has replaced Turnitin Classic. Your new guidance for viewing the Similarity Report in Turnitin Feedback Studio can be found here.
The Similarity Report provides a summary of matching or similar areas of text found in a submitted paper. When a Similarity Report is available to be viewed an icon is placed in the Similarity column of the student class portfolio page. Similarity Reports that have not finished generating will display the text processing within the Similarity column of the student class portfolio page.
Note: Overwritten or resubmitted papers may not generate a new Similarity Report for a full twenty-four hours. This delay is automatic and allows resubmissions to correctly generate without matching to the previous draft.
The paper shown in the Similarity Report is fully formatted and contains any images and graphs included in the original document.
How is My Paper Checked?
Papers submitted to Turnitin may be compared against billions of internet documents, archived internet data that is no longer available on the live web, a local repository of previously submitted papers, and subscription repository of periodicals, journals, and publications. The comparison may be against any or all of these repositories as set on a specific assignment by the instructor of the class. Turnitin may be compared against billions of internet documents, archived internet data that is no longer available on the live web, a local repository of previously submitted papers, and subscription repository of periodicals, journals, and publications. The comparison may be against any or all of these repositories as set on a specific assignment by the instructor of the class.
The comparison document is called a Similarity Report. This document details the matching or similar text between a submission made on Turnitin and the documents the submission was compared against. This document is listed in the instructor’s view of the class assignment inbox.
Similarity Report Availability
At the discretion of the instructor, student users may be able to view the Similarity Reports for their own submissions on Turnitin. This is a preference that is selected on an assignment by assignment basis and may be updated at any time by the instructor. Only the instructor can change this setting.Turnitin. This is a preference that is selected on an assignment by assignment basis and may be updated at any time by the instructor. Only the instructor can change this setting.
Note: If Not Available appears under the Similarity column for the assignment, then Similarity Reports are not available to student users in this assignment. Students wishing to view or receive a copy of the Similarity Report for their submissions must contact the instructor. The determination of authorizing access to this information is in the hands of the instructor and institution.
Interpreting the Similarity Report
Turnitin does not check for plagiarism in a piece of work. Instead, we will check your work against our database, and if there are instances where your writing is similar to, or matches against, one of our sources, we will flag this for your instructor to review. Our database includes billions of web pages: both current and archived content from the internet, a repository of works students have submitted to Turnitin in the past, and a collection of documents, which comprises thousands of periodicals, journals, and publications.Turnitin in the past, and a collection of documents, which comprises thousands of periodicals, journals, and publications.
It is perfectly natural for an assignment to match against some of our database. If you have used quotes and have referenced correctly, there will be instances where we will find a match. The Similarity Score Index (SSI) simply makes your instructor aware of any problem areas in your paper; they will then use this as a tool as part of a larger process, in order to determine if the match is or is not acceptable.
Similarity Index Examples
As an example, you may have submitted a paper to Turnitin in the past. If you included your name in that submission, it is entirely possible that, if your instructor has opted not to exclude small matches, this will be highlighted in your Similarity Report.
Another example may concern a student copying and pasting a chunk of text into their paper, due to a lack of knowledge on the topic they are covering. Their Similarity Index might be 10%.
However, this might be compared to another student who has a firm basis of knowledge for the paper and knows enough to gather information from several sources to quote and reference correctly. Their Similarity Index might be 12%.
Both students will be shown to have matches against our database. However, one of these students copied directly from a website, whereas the other provided properly sourced quotes.
Turnitin empowers your instructor by giving them the tools to differentiate between matches. It also empowers you, as a student, by knowing that your work will be seen through the correct lens. You can find more information about citing the sources you have used here: http://www.plagiarism.org/citing-sources/cite-sources
The Similarity Report icon shows a percentage and a corresponding color indicating where this percentage falls, in terms of matching content.
The higher the percentage, the greater the amount of text in the submission that was highlighted as matching against information in Turnitin’s repositories. The percentage range runs from 0% to 100%. The percentage is generated by the amount of similar or matching text compared to the number of words in the submission in total.
The color of the report icon is linked to one of five tiers; this is based on the amount of matching text found by the repository comparison. The possible similarity index percentage ranges are linked to a corresponding color:
- blue (no matching words)
- green (one matching word - 24% similarity index)
- yellow (25-49% similarity)
- orange (50-74% similarity)
- red (75-100% similarity)
This number is a raw amount of matching completed against the repositories selected by your instructor for the assignment the submission was made to.
Matches Against Citations and Bibliographies
Direct quotations, citations, or bibliography areas of the paper are not automatically excluded. The decision to permanently exclude or disregard matches to these types of text in a paper is made solely by the instructor of the class.Turnitin repository. Direct quotation, citations, or bibliography areas of the paper are not automatically excluded. The decision to permanently exclude or disregard matches to these types of text in a paper is made solely by the instructor of the class.
Warning: These indices in no way reflect Turnitin’s assessment of whether a paper contains plagiarized material or improperly used material. The Similarity Report provides instructors with a tool to more easily locate matching or similar text within the text of a submitted work. The determination and adjudication of proper citation and plagiarism are left solely to the instructor and institution to which the work was submitted. Any questions regarding the definition of plagiarism used at your institution should be directed to the instructor of the class or an appropriate institutional staff member.
Opening the Similarity Report
Similarity Reports are typically completed within ten to fifteen minutes of submissions. This report generation time may vary based on the extreme levels of usage that may occur during certain periods of the academic year or due to very large submissions.
If the Similarity Report viewing preference is set by the instructor to allow students to access the reports, the Similarity Report icon will allow the user to open the report.
Viewing Similarity Reports
The Similarity Report can be viewed in one of four modes. These modes allow users to view and sort the information contained in the Similarity Report in ways better suited to their needs. The four viewing modes for an Similarity Report are:
- Match Overview (show highest matches together): A list of all areas of the paper which have similarity to information in the Turnitin repository. Matches are color coded and listed from highest to lowest percentage of matching word area to the submission. Only the top or best matches are shown, all underlying matches are visible in the Match Breakdown and All Sources modesTurnitin repository. Matches are color coded and listed from highest to lowest percentage of matching word area to the submission. Only the top or best matches are shown, all underlying matches are visible in the Match Breakdown and All Sources modes
- All Sources: Allows a user to view matches between the paper and a specific selected source in the Turnitin repositories. Contains a full list of all matches found rather than the best matches per area of similarity. This listing is exhaustive but will show all matches found, including any that are obscured in the Match Overview by virtue of being in the same or similar areas as other, better matchesTurnitin repositories. Contains a full list of all matches found rather than the best matches per area of similarity. This listing is exhaustive but will show all matches found, including any that are obscured in the Match Overview by virtue of being in the same or similar areas as other, better matches
- Match Breakdown: Displays matches that are obscured by a top source. Allows instructors to compare the match instance of a underlying source with the match instance for a top source
- Direct Source Comparison: An in depth view that shows an area of similarity compared side by side with a specific match from the Turnitin repositories. Not available on all types of repository matchesTurnitin repositories. Not available on all types of repository matches
Similarity Report Contents
The Similarity Report is separated into three main areas:
- document viewer frame - shows the Similarity Index for the report and the title and author of the paper
- paper text - the submitted paper text in its original formatting. Matching text is highlighted in a color that corresponds to the matching source listed on the right side of the Similarity Report
- matching sources/sidebar - the list of matching sources for the highlighted areas of the paper text to the left. The sidebar also displays the Filter and Settings (exclusion options)
The paper information can be viewed by clicking on the information icon at the bottom left of the document viewer.
The paper information contains: the submission id, the date the paper was processed, the word count, the character count, the number of submissions to the assignment, the overall similarity index, and the three repository indices.
Direct Source Comparison
Direct Source Comparison, allows a user to quickly compare matching text to the source of the match in the Turnitin repositories. Using Direct Source Comparison can be done from the Match Overview or the All Sources view mode of the Similarity Report.Turnitin repositories. Matches to other student papers are not available for Direct Source Comparison viewing unless the students are enrolled in your class. Using Direct Source Comparison can be done from the Match Overview or the All Sources view mode of the Similarity Report.
Users can either view the Direct Source Comparison as a glimpse within the paper or as the Full Source Text within the sidebar. The glimpse only provides the matching text within context of a few outlying sentences from the source while the Full Source Text loads in the sidebar and contains the full text of the source and all the match instances.
1. Open an Similarity Report
2. Click on a highlighted area of text on the left hand (student paper) side
3. A pop-up window will appear above the highlighted text displaying the matching text within the source of the match
4. (Optional) Clicking on the url link, available on live internet matches, brings up a view of the live web site within a new browser tab or window
5a. Click on the “x” in the top right corner of the pop-up to close the window
5b. To view the matching text within the full source click on the Expand to Full Text link
6. The Full Source Text view of the source will load into the sidebar
7. If there are multiple matches to this source, click on the arrow icons to quickly navigate through the match instances
8. To exit the Full Source Text View click on the “X” button
TurnitinTurnitin utilizes multiple types of repository in the generation of the Similarity
Reports. There are four types of repository:
- internet repository - billions of active and archived web pages from the internet. Internet sources indicate a date of download on the Turnitin Similarity Report if the match is not found on the most recent download of content from this site.
- periodicals - a repository of frequently updated content from professional journals, periodicals, and publications
- student paper repository - a repository of papers previously submitted by Turnitin users
- institution paper repository - a collection of papers submitted to the institution’s repository
Note: If an area of submission text is matched to a source in the student paper repository on Turnitin, it will be listed as Turnitin, it will be listed as student papers. Direct Source Comparison is not available to students for student paper matches.
Excluding Quoted or Bibliographic Material
If quoted or bibliographic material is flagged as similar or matching, this information can be removed from the Similarity Report. Students are only able to remove quoted or bibliographic material for the duration of the current view of the report. Permanent exclusion of this information must be handled by the instructor.
Please note that the functions for excluding material are approximate and human judgement is the final arbiter for proper quotation or bibliographic reference. Cited material cannot be excluded directly, and quotations can only be excluded if block-indentation or direct quotation marks (“”) begin and end the quotation.
1. Open an Similarity Report
2. Click on the Filter and Settings icon
3. To exclude Quoted or Bibliographic material click the check box next to the Exclude Quotes and Exclude Bibliography exclusion options
4. Click on the Apply Changes button to save the settings
Excluding Small Matches
Users have the ability to exclude small matches by either word count or by percentage. To exclude small matches within an Similarity Report click on the Filter and Settings icon below the sidebar.
The sidebar will load with the exclusion options. Below the Exclude matches that are less than: option enter into either the words or % fields the numerical value for small matches that will be excluded from this Similarity Report. To turn off excluding small matches click on the radio button next to Don’t exclude by size. To save the settings click on the Apply Changes button at the bottom of the sidebar. This feature can be adjusted at any time.
When a student closes an Similarity Report after using the exclude small matches option the Similarity Report will return to the assignment’s default setting for excluding small matches and the students changes will not be saved.
Downloading Reports and Digital Receipts
The Similarity Report or digital receipt can be downloaded to the user’s computer for later reference.
To print/download a report, click on the print icon at the bottom of the Similarity Report. This will prepare a readable, PDF version of the Similarity Report or digital receipt. When downloading a report, the downloaded version created is based on the current view of Similarity Report. For example, clicking the download icon while using the default Match Overview will create a PDF of only the highest matches.
Once a PDF version of the report or digital receipt has been saved to your computer, you may then use your computer’s default PDF viewing application to print the Similarity Report/digital receipt. The downloaded version will no longer have any of the Direct Source Comparison capability and will not be able to show side by side comparisons. The view modes of a downloaded report are not available in the PDF document.
Training Video: Viewing a Similarity Report