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Most Popular Free Research Paper Plagiarism Checkers: How Do They Work

By now most of us are familiar with free plagiarism checkers like CopyScape and academic ones like TurnItIn. How these plagiarism checkers work can be a mystery. The things that these tools look for our simple to understand once you have identified them. Let’s take a look at the primary ways plagiarism checkers look at your work to see if it is original.

Text Matching

Plagiarism checkers scan thousands of documents and match them against yours. If lines of text appear in the exact order, then it is marked as plagiarism. It seems simple enough, but this issue can complicate plagiarism because there are plenty of phrases in the English language that are common use. I have run several of my documents through piracy tools and had benign phrases come back as plagiarism.

Common Use Phrases

Sometimes these phrases are as simple as “there once was,” “in the past, there have been” and “this part of history shows.” As you can see from the selection, these phrases are something you might write on your own without ever having looked at another paper.

Source Crediting

The other thing that plagiarism checkers look for is whether or not you have properly credited your source material. The problem is most plagiarism checkers use only one or two identified methods for source crediting like APA or MLA formatting. If you have not used the format that the plagiarism checker uses, then it is going to say you have plagiarized from that source.

Indirect Plagiarism

One of the problems with using plagiarism checkers is they cannot catch plagiarism that does not use the word-for-word examples. If an article or essay steals whole ideas but rearranges the words in a unique way, the plagiarism checker is not going to catch them. These tools don’t have in-depth analytical abilities. The only way to really understand this type of plagiarism is to have a knowledge of the original content. A capacity to recognize that the student using the content would not have come up with the subject matter on their own is another way to spot this type of plagiarism. To put it simply, plagiarism checkers have one big blind spot.

Now you know when you run your work through a plagiarism checker why some common phrases come up as plagiarism. If you’ve credited your sources in the plagiarism checker is still marking it as someone else’s work it may just be you’ve not use the proper formatting. Knowing how these tools work will make you a better writer.