What Plagiarism Checker Do Colleges Use? How Universities Detect Student Plagiarism in 2023
08/24/2023 12:00 AM
in Ai tools
What Plagiarism Checker Do Colleges Use to Detect Student Plagiarism?
Plagiarism remains a serious concern for colleges and universities around the world. With so much content available online, it has become easier than ever for students to simply copy and paste information into their assignments. This is not only unethical but can also have serious consequences for students if caught plagiarizing.
But how exactly do colleges and universities check student work for plagiarism? There are actually a few different methods and tools utilized by academics to detect copied or unoriginal content.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the most common plagiarism checker software programs and techniques used by colleges to catch plagiarized assignments and hold students accountable for academic dishonesty.
Why Do Colleges and Universities Check for Plagiarism?
Before we look at the specific tools and methods used, it’s important to understand why academic plagiarism is taken so seriously. Here are some of the main reasons colleges and universities check student work for originality:
- Uphold Academic Integrity - Academia depends on honesty, trust, and original research. Allowing plagiarism undermines these values and the reputation of the institution.
- Ensure Students Learn - Students who plagiarize do not actually learn or engage critically with assignment topics. Detecting plagiarism is necessary to make sure students are truly learning.
- Fairness - Plagiarism is inherently unfair to honest, hardworking students who write original content. Schools must detect and prevent it to create a level playing field.
- Prepare Students for Future Careers - Learning to work independently and create original analysis, argumentation, and content is crucial preparation for professional careers where plagiarism has severe consequences.
With the integrity of both students’ education and the institution at stake, it’s clear why colleges invest significant resources into catching and preventing academic plagiarism. Now let’s look at how they actually do it.
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Manual Review by Instructors
The most basic and traditional method of detecting plagiarism is good old-fashioned reading and review by class instructors. Knowledgeable academics are often able to identify plagiarized content through a few key indicators:
- Writing Style - Does the writing style seem choppy, disjointed, or noticeably different from the student's usual work? This can indicate passages copied from other sources.
- Content Sophistication - Does the vocabulary, analysis, or depth of knowledge seem far beyond the normal capabilities of the individual student based on previous work? Suspicious content may be plagiarized from more advanced sources.
- Citation Irregularities - Are citations sporadic, completely absent, or formatted inconsistently? Lack of proper citations is a warning sign of plagiarism.
- Off-Topic Content - Does the content seem to veer into topics unrelated to the assignment requirements? This could mean it has been copied from another source.
While manual review is helpful, it can also be extremely time-consuming for instructors, especially with large classes and heavy grading loads. This has led many colleges and universities to adopt specialized plagiarism detection software.
Plagiarism Checker Technology Used by Colleges
There are now many sophisticated plagiarism checker software programs available that institutions can use to scan student writing for duplicated content. These programs match student submissions against massive databases of online content and academic publications to identify overlaps. Here are some of the most popular plagiarism detectors used by colleges:
- SEOToolsPArk is Specifically designed for educational institutions
- Scans content against over 45 billion web pages and academic journals
- Identifies verbatim copying, paraphrasing, and inappropriately cited material
- Clean, easy-to-interpret similarity reports for instructors
- Used by over 30,000 institutions globally
- Checks against a database of over 1.4 billion web pages, academic publications, and previously submitted student papers
- Creates custom Originality Reports showing the percentage of matched content
- Integrates directly with many Learning Management Systems like Canvas and Blackboard
- Developed by Blackboard and part of their LMS suite
- Compares submissions to the global reference database as well as the institution’s internal assignment database
- Highlights blocks of duplicated text and generates Originality Scores
- Particularly useful for ongoing detection within an institution over time
- Offers advanced AI-based plagiarism-checking algorithms
- Scans content against 11 billion web pages and 110 million student papers
- Provides similarity percentages, highlights copied passages and generates standalone or LMS-integrated reports
- Customizable rules and settings available to instructors
- Focuses primarily on academic plagiarism detection
- Checks against 16 billion web pages and academic plagiarism resources like commercial paper mills
- Offers batch uploading and scanning for larger projects
- Can be used directly or integrated with Moodle LMS
There are certainly other plagiarism detection options beyond these tools, but this covers some of the most common and robust choices used by colleges and universities today.
In addition to automated plagiarism checkers, some institutions also employ a few other technological solutions:
- Google Search - Instructors may spot-check unfamiliar phrases, passages, or concepts by Googling them to identify potential sources of copying.
- Custom Search Engines - Building a custom search engine to index a university’s past papers or public websites related to major topics can facilitate plagiarism detection.
- Student Login Tracking - On LMS sites like Canvas, instructors can view detailed logs showing class content students viewed and when. Cross-referencing with writing can provide hints of plagiarism.
How Effective are Automated Plagiarism Checkers?
With all these high-tech plagiarism detection tools available today, how well do they actually work? The effectiveness depends on a few factors:
- Checker Capabilities – More advanced AI, larger comparison databases, and dedicated academic plagiarism resources increase accuracy.
- Student Sophistication – Simple copying and pasting is easy to catch. However, rewritten plagiarism using synonyms and altered sentence structure is much harder to detect.
- Instructor Review – No programs are foolproof, so human review of originality reports is still essential to make final determinations.
- Deterrence Effect – Even when missed, the existence of plagiarism checkers often deters many students from taking the risk of copying large chunks.
While limitations exist, modern plagiarism checker software remains highly useful for identifying potential cheating, providing a starting point for instructor investigation, and discouraging plagiarism by its very presence.
However, academics cannot rely on technology alone. Let's look at some additional methods professors use. Here is the Best Plagiarism Software for Students and Professionals.
Other Tactics to Detect Plagiarism
In addition to plagiarism checker software, instructors may employ other tactics both to catch student plagiarism and deter it from happening in the first place:
- Careful Review of Citations – Do in-text and bibliographic citations match up? Are citation styles consistent across sources? Discrepancies can indicate plagiarism.
- Compare Student Drafts – Does the final paper differ significantly from early drafts in writing style, content, and quality? Sudden improvements may be suspicious.
- Google Targeted Phrases – Googling distinctive phrases, unusual terms, or statistic-heavy passages can help pinpoint plagiarized areas.
- Assignment Customization – Creating unique essay prompts, questions, and submission requirements makes copying existing sources more difficult.
- Oral Exams – Asking students to explain key concepts, analyses, and passages orally can reveal their true knowledge and plagiarism.
- Run Previous Assignments – Rescanning old assignments through updated plagiarism checkers can sometimes identify students copying from those same papers.
With strong policies, scrutiny, and training in place, even cleverly disguised plagiarism can often be uncovered through persistent effort.
Consequences of Plagiarism in College
Plagiarism checker software and instructor sleuthing aim to catch students who engage in academic dishonesty. But what happens when students are caught plagiarizing on assignments? Here are some potential consequences:
- Failing Grade - A zero grade may be given for the assignment, severely hurting the student's course average.
- Course Failure - In severe or repeated cases, the student may fail the entire course.
- Disciplinary Action - Schools may issue formal warnings, probation, suspension, notation on permanent records, or even expulsion.
- Revocation of Scholarships/Degrees - Severe academic plagiarism could potentially lead to loss of scholarship funding or even rescinded degrees.
- Legal Action - If plagiarism constitutes copyright infringement, the student could face civil or criminal prosecution.
The specific penalties depend on the academic institution, the severity of plagiarism, and whether it's a repeated offense. But consequences are typically quite serious, given that plagiarism constitutes not just cheating but theft of intellectual property.
That's why colleges invest in plagiarism detection - the integrity of both education and research depends on upholding ethics. Here's How to copy and paste without getting caught.
Best Practices for Students to Avoid Plagiarism
To steer clear of serious plagiarism consequences, students should follow certain best practices when writing papers:
- Plan Ahead - Don't wait until the last minute. Rushed papers often lead to cutting corners and copying content.
- Take Effective Notes - Don't copy source text verbatim into notes. Summarize concepts and ideas using your own words and style.
- Learn to Paraphrase - Practice rewriting content from sources in new ways rather than directly quoting.
- Cite Sources Thoroughly - Reference all sources within the text and in bibliographies to attribute any content and ideas borrowed.
- Ask for Help - Consult instructors if ever unsure about proper referencing, citation, or use of sources. Better to ask questions first than make mistakes.
Plagiarism often occurs not from blatant deception but from students failing to understand proper research and citation methods. That's why colleges don't just punish plagiarism but seek to educate students on how to ethically and effectively use content from other sources.
FAQs about Plagiarism Checkers in Colleges
Q: Why don't some colleges allow plagiarism checkers?
A: A small minority of colleges may not allow plagiarism checkers due to costs, concerns about database accuracy, or philosophical opposition. However, the vast majority now use plagiarism checkers as essential academic integrity tools.
Q: What happens if plagiarism software detects problems?
A: Originality reports act only as an initial screen. Instructors still carefully review the reports, investigate context, determine if exceptions like citations apply, and make final plagiarism determinations.
Q: Can students see plagiarism checker reports themselves?
A: Yes, many systems provide access so students can review their own reports and make corrections or add proper citations before submitting assignments. This encourages learning.
Q: How much plagiarism is allowed before it's a major issue?
A: Standards vary slightly but typically anything over 10% similarity reported by checkers gets flagged for review. Even 1-2 sentences copied without attribution can warrant consequences.
Q: Do plagiarism checkers detect all cheating?
A: No software detects 100% of plagiarism. Advanced rewriting and collusion can go undetected. But checkers combined with vigilant instructors catch the most significant plagiarism in student assignments today.
Maintaining academic integrity remains crucial for institutions of higher education. This means detecting and deterring plagiarism through the use of modern plagiarism checker platforms, instructors carefully reviewing work, enacting strong policies, and educating students on ethical research and citation practices.
While cheating may be tempting, and some copied content may slip through the cracks, colleges invest significant resources into preventing and catching plagiarism. Students must realize that thanks to robust technology and watchful instructors, plagiarism has severe consequences. The smartest approach for any student is therefore to do their own original work, start assignments early, learn proper citation, and ask for guidance when unsure about how to ethically build on other sources.
Academic plagiarism morphs and evolves with changing technology and access to content. But the integrity of education still relies on upholding ethics, enforcing consequences, and teaching the next generation of students how to transparently borrow and stand on the shoulders of giants who came before them. With vigilance, care, and the right tools, colleges can maintain trust, fairness, and pedagogical rigor in the modern digital education landscape.