Plagiarism Checkers — How Do They Work?

When writing something for your school or university, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind. First and foremost, your paper should be free of any kind of spelling and grammar errors.

The second most important thing is making sure you aren’t plagiarizing someone else’s work when writing an essay for school. You must give credit to the original publisher to avoid plagiarism.

Most of the plagiarism you may encounter (or make) is unintentional. Everyone who writes on a professional level, for school or for creating content for the Internet, uses a plagiarism checker.

But how do plagiarism checkers work? How accurate are they in detecting plagiarized content? Keep reading if you want to find out the answer to these questions and more!

What is Plagiarism, and What Makes it So Bad?

clear framed eyeglasses on top of pile of books
Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash

Plagiarism is the use of intellectual property without crediting its source material. Nowadays, plagiarism is considered a major problem in the literary world. The guilty are mostly students who use search engines to find original material and use that content at an academic level. 

Sometimes the easiest way for students to complete their content is to steal someone else’s work as original content.

The common victims of plagiarism are researchers, professors, and writers of serious content. The plagiarist gets all the credit without doing any of the work. For the detection of duplicate content, there are several plagiarism checking tools available.

Plagiarism, unfortunately, is very common in academic papers, articles, or essays. Students often cannot sustain the pressure of work and deadlines for their projects. To meet deadlines, they prefer to steal someone else’s work instead of creating original content.

Plagiarism is unethical for a couple of reasons: Firstly, it is unethical because it is a form of theft. You are taking intellectual property from others when you pretend they are yours. 

Second, it is unethical because the plagiarizer subsequently reaps the benefits from the theft.

How do Plagiarism Checkers Work?

You must understand first that plagiarism detection tools do not determine intent. If your content mirrors those found elsewhere on the Internet, it probably was unnecessarily done.

Even if you correctly cite your sources, the plagiarism checker will still light up because that’s how they work.

A plagiarism checker scans the Internet, finds content matches, and lets you know if it sees anything similar to your work. Many plagiarism tools offer a database of files they use.

They are very similar to search engines, in a way. But instead of looking for the thing you’re searching for, plagiarism detectors are looking for content that resembles yours.

There are various methods used by plagiarism checkers to identify plagiarized content. Here are the most common of them:

Keywords Assessment

The software program scans for instances of the same word in the same place when you input a document.

If the software program finds that you are using specific words in the same places as other articles, it will register a plagiarism violation. As a consequence, this option does not identify paraphrasing, which could also be plagiarism.

Phrase Assessment

Rather than looking to find a single word, this tool searches for strings of words ordered the same. Your match might be triggered by any word with more than five words in the same order.

Fingerprint Technique

This method is used to examine word fragments. It looks at the order of the fragments to see if the document has been lifted and pasted from another source.

If someone copies an article, pastes it, and then adds more paragraphs, the overall fingerprint remains the same. The plagiarism penalty will be triggered.

To Wrap Up

The question of how do plagiarism checkers work does not have a single answer. Different plagiarism detectors use different methods to catch if the content is plagiarized, intentionally or not. 

Also, different plagiarism checkers have access to different databases. Software may be good to check if your content is unique on the Internet. However, the same software may not work that well if you are writing an academic paper. 

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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