How To Detect Plagiarism In Academic Writing

You may at some point be involved in a group project in which the quality of your grade depends on the work of others in part. This is not a rare occurrence. Unfortunately, neither is plagiarism and where the two collide, your life can be made quite uncomfortable. If ever you find yourself in a situation where the work submitted by a fellow group member seems just a little ‘wrong’ despite being technically correct, here are some ways that you can look into it to decide if it has been plagiarized from some other source.

  1. Use a search engine
  2. This is one of the simple methods that you can employ for free with very little effort. Merely type a line from their work into a search engine in quotes and see if it gets any hits. Try a few different lines just in case because, depending on the person’s level of investment, he or she may have taken the time to do some basic rewording. Often there will be no real attempt to disguise the plagiarism and the first line will take you to the original source of the writing.

  3. Another easy method although not often free, is the use of a specialised plagiarism detecting software. Several of these exist and you may choose the one that tickles your fancy for whatever reason. You input the entire text into the program and it does the rest. They have a specialized function so that they can detect plagiarized work that has been only subtly altered as well. A regular search engine may not be able to do that. They can also give you a rate of plagiarism, that is, what percent of the content you have entered matches other content that has been found online.
  4. The old fashioned way
  5. Before the internet, detecting plagiarism took sleuthing skills. You could compare the submitted work to previous examples of the person’s work to see if it matches their style. You could also refer to previous submissions and quality. If someone who normally takes days to submit 5,000 words of average quality were to hand me 10,000 words of sheer brilliance in an afternoon, my spider senses would tingle. This is obviously not proof but it can set you on the right trail and further investigation can lead you to the truth.

Work smart and make sure those around you do too.