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Checking for Plagiarism

More and more schools, colleges and universities are checking for plagiarism - and it's becoming easier for them to do so.

Plagiarism is when students copy someone else's work without giving the original author credit. In a general sense, it means trying to pass someone else's written work off as your own.

Many students don't realize that doing this is wrong.

Using research materials is an important part of constructing an essay or report, but copying them exactly (without quoting them properly) is wrong.

If you cannot reword something without it sounding abnormal, you can quote from the person. The way to do this is like this....

Rand (1956) explained that, "although the evidence for action is not clear, on balance it is right that we continue until further evidence comes to light."

In this case, we are using someone else's work - but not plagiarising as we are making it clear where it comes from.

How Teachers Check for Plagiarism

The simplest way for teachers to check for plagiarism is to copy a chunk of your text into Google, enclosed in "quotation marks" and see if any results come up. This is the simplest method.

You can use the free Plagiarism Tester Tool on this site, which does the same thing.

Why Checking for Plagiarism is getting easier

Up until a few years ago, students could get away with going to the library and copying text out of books. The chances are that the lecturer would never have read the book. Even if they had, there was little way of checking - apart from going line by line through every book in the library and comparing it to your essay.

Now, just as it is easier for students to research on the Internet, it is just as easy for teachers and lecturers to catch plagiarism attempts.

Academic institutions use huge online databases of published works, then compare your essays and reports to them using automated software in secconds. It's not just a case of it being an EXACT match - these systems can also determine how similar your work is. Changing the occassional word isn't enough to fool the systems.