Plagiarism – appropriation of someone’s work or ideas and presenting them as one’s own. Plagiarism in writings ranges from using a paragraph or a whole page from another essay or work, without quoting the source used in the essay. Checking for plagiarism requires a deep knowledge of the subject and the tricks of the average plagiarist, some of which are obvious, while others are not. This article will tell you how to be alert and to be able to identify the assigned job.

Allowable scope

Consider the usual work of the author. If you know a writer, what do you usually expect from this person? If the work looks much better than expected, this may be the reason to dig a little deeper. Of course, if this is an anonymous work, this step does not apply. However, teachers who directly evaluate the work will not spend a lot of time to determine what each student is capable of and to find differences that do not correspond to his real abilities.

  • This person usually makes spelling mistakes, but suddenly not a single mistake in the whole work.
  • This person, as a rule, has incoherent or poorly formed concepts and suddenly the work contains well-formulated sentences.
  • The work is more voluminous or contains in-depth analysis than you expected from this person.
  • When evaluating papers, consider: whether this topic was discussed in class. For good scholars and honors students, this is not such a problem, but for troecs who are not used to and from whom they did not expect to write deeper studies, including materials that are not relevant to the topic, or that goes beyond the class discussion, be a red flag. Of course, this may be a sign that you have bored and gifted students in your class, so be astute.
  • It is possible that the author is engaged in additional, more diligently trying, or just found himself and finally “extracts it.” The usual author level is only a possible warning indicator for potential problems; Be careful not to view and positive reasons!

Know your subject. Your own knowledge and limitations have an impact on plagiarism assessment. How well do you know the subject? Are you sure that you are well-read or have studied the subject so as to be able to notice when someone has used the proposals or concepts of another person, without changing anything? With experience, you will begin to recognize the bright features of plagiarism, but even immediately after college, your own knowledge will help you understand when you read something that this is not the source.

Search for plagiarism indicators

Look for inconsistencies or “plagiarism indicators.” Usually, a person involved in plagiarism allows small differences between his work and the article, book or essay from which he copies. This is an obvious mistake – the author is trying to give someone else’s work for his. Some standard indicators of work that contain plagiarism are outlined in the following steps.

Look at the spelling. Spelling can be an indicator of plagiarism for the tester if it is inconsistent and changes according to different dialects.

  • Inconsistent spelling : If the same word is written differently in the whole work, this may be an indicator that in some cases the author copied the text and combined several separate passages into one. Remember, sometimes it happens that the author is an illiterate or bad editor and does not remember (or he does not care) which spelling is correct.
  • British English versus American English (and vice versa) . If the author copies from a book published in a country where in English words have alternative spellings different from your language, this may be an indicator of danger. For example, spellings where, instead of the letter combination, “ou” is “o”, for example, “colors,” or spellings of “s” instead of “z”, for example, “recognized” should be indicators of plagiarism (and vice versa, where American English is not a standard). In some cases, students think that if they use a text or book that is not published in their own country, plagiarism will not be detected. Of course, if your student is from a country where written English is different, you should take this into account.
  • Keep in mind that if your student has error checking turned on, the spelling may or may not be the ‘indicator you are looking for. It depends on how carefully the student edits and if this work is done at the last moment, then there is less likelihood that such a check will occur.
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Compare the vocabulary level with the expected student vocabulary level. The vocabulary used can be an expose for students who do not use higher-level words, especially in high school. A student in the eighth grade who uses words such as “tendency”, “to besiege”, or “humiliate” can be considered an “indicator of danger.”

Think about connectivity and ease of reading. From your point of view, as a reader: is the work one and easy to read, or does it look incoherent, with drastically changing ideas and a sudden change of style? At a time when deadlines are being squeezed in, some people have inconsistencies with a logical sequence while writing a work containing pieces of copied text that slip here and there. Often the text will appear more incoherent and exclusive than when someone tries to organize their thoughts correctly. Items to search include:

  • Fragmentation of the sentence. If a passage tells something and then suddenly ends and changes several times, it may be an indicator that someone else’s work has been inserted into the work.
  • Long complex sentences that seem out of place. Authors usually have a particular style (“voice”) when it comes to writing. The work of a person who almost always uses exceptionally short and concise phrases, suddenly changes and several complex sentences (in four lines) are added to it, should hint about plagiarism. Flawless paragraphs in poor performance are signals for concern!
  • Awkward changes in point of view. An unnatural or forced change of viewpoints can signal plagiarism.
  • Weak start and end, great core. (Or, another form of weak and strong parts.) Although this may be a sign that a student who is trying to build work logically, it may also be a plagiarism signal if the student copies and inserts from different sources. A plagiarist can write an introduction, cut and paste the main part of the work from several different sources and then write conclusions. The cut and inserted parts will be read in a completely different tone and style than what is written by the student. In addition, paragraphs will be read differently if taken from different sources. Quotes are likely to be different (the student is in a hurry, there is no time to manipulate with footnotes or notes) and the student’s own lines will seem weaker than the copied parts.

Check punctuation. Punctuation can be an indicator of plagiarism, as many people put punctuation marks wrong. If a student always had problems with punctuation and suddenly he began to arrange it correctly, this is an indicator of plagiarism. If you do not know the person whose job you are checking, punctuation can still be assessed for inconsistencies. For example, in one part of the work punctuation can be terrible, while in the other, it can suddenly become perfect. Or, in general, many commas and semicolons begin to appear in one part of the work, when in the other – there are no other punctuation marks.

Check the times. Any change of time in work that seems unnatural and does not correspond to the student’s explicit style is something that should be noted. The use of sentences with passive constructions is usually a good indicator, since many scientists tend to use passive constructions in the text, because of the desire to appear more authoritative.

Look for pronoun mismatches. In the case of an “ambiguous” third person, authors tend to be inclined to use the universal male gender “he”, the gender-neutral gender “he / she” or the plural “they” to express their thoughts. Switching between these methods of expression (of a third person) can be an indicator of plagiarism. On the other hand, it can be quite difficult grammatically (and socially) and the author may simply be confused or he will get tired of trying to follow this rule, so do not attach much importance to it.

Read up to quotes. Is the author quoting books, articles, or online sources correctly? Or is it obvious that some sources are missing or incompletely quoted? In some cases, a student may quote a single author by copying elements of the works of various authors cited by one that he did not bother to read, desperately hoping that the verifier will not delve into his work.

  • Did the author of the work bother to add footnotes or notes where the concepts, ideas or facts were set out in the words of another person, or did you omit this moment?
  • Quotes included, but quotes omitted? In some cases, this is casual editing or perhaps forgetfulness, while in other cases it may be an intentional attempt to present someone else’s work for your own.
  • Check out year quotes. If they are from previous decades, this may signal a copied work – even if the topic only affects something from another century, such as 70s hairstyle, at least one reference to the contemporary author should be included. Comprehensive work will contain recent and old dates or fall back on the side of recent research on topical issues.
  • Do these quotes exist? In some cases, students come up with quotes, or argue that there is a section of work in a book at a time when it is not there. Perhaps you have access to the book and you can check it out. Either check in google books or see the quote online. To understand when you need to check work for plagiarism, you need experience and knowledge. If you suspect that the journal called Mouse Obstetrics does not exist, then check it out.
  • Material taken from wikipedia? You may be surprised at how many people think that it’s quite normal to quote Wikipedia without much thought – and definitely without quotes!
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Take into account the structure. The obvious sign of plagiarism is when the work is similar in content to several students at once, including the placement of paragraphs, the used headings and the sequence of presentation. If more than two or three people provided similar work, most likely they used the same sources. You need to stop it at the initial stage, questioning the entire class or using the measures provided for by your school or college.

  • If mindless cheating grows wildly, remove one point each and start over. This is a good punishment. Despite the fact that it is not fair to those who do not write off, self-regulation among peers can be a good result of such an action and, hopefully, you will no longer encounter such a problem.

Online plagiarism check

Start with simple search engines. If you suspect a work or a part of it, cut and copy an excerpt of a suspicious text or paragraph and paste it into the search bar. Press “enter” and see what will search. If the text was copied in the original version or close enough, a high probability that the search engine will produce several exact matches. Any online source with such information will appear on the first search page.

Use the site “Check plagiarism”. There are several sites to check for plagiarism. Some free, some for a small fee – you will need to read the terms of use of the site and understand the scope of the site, to find out whether the site can meet your needs. Basically, look for sites where you can download or “cut and paste” the whole work onto the site and then the site checks the work for similarities between the text of the work itself and other sources. The program will show places containing plagiarism.

  • Your school or college may already have software that can check the text for plagiarism, in combination with the Internet or other search engines.
  • Turnitin® is a well-known plagiarism checker.

Tell your students what you expect from them

Tell your students about your expectations. Well, if you notice that some students thoughtlessly borrow work from other people, but you need to approach this issue carefully and carefully so that plagiarism disappears forever – at least from your class! You can evaluate your work in different ways, telling your students from the very beginning that you are aware of the plagiarism tactics, you know about the essay sites, and you really will check for plagiarism using software, the Internet and your own knowledge.

  • Warn class about plagiarism at the beginning of a year or semester. Show students how essay sites look and how you can see essays taken from such a site in seconds.
  • Show students how to avoid plagiarism. Just do not scare them, because for many students the scare tactic often leads to violations or the need to outwit you – instead, better acquaint them with the technique and methods of writing and research, so that they get pleasure from writing. Teach your students to think independently of a given topic, setting as an example other thinkers who have independently enriched their worldview, allowing us to experience the depth of the great human thinking for thousands of years.
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  • In addition to explaining what plagiarism is and how best to edit, many students will benefit from knowledge of optimal time use. This will help each student better manage all the competing needs of his life, including sports, various objects, hobbies, parties and sleep. If you have the opportunity, tell the class about time management so that students learn to avoid rushing in the final minutes to finish the job (the main reason for plagiarism). Learning strategies can help them acquire a good habit for life and help avoid common problems, such as perfectionism and procrastination.
  • Sometimes words that are usually complex or rarely used come into vogue thanks to movies or songs. If a student begins to abuse what was previously a more difficult word, then popular culture can be a real source, not plagiarism!
  • Keep copies of well-written original works. Some of them may appear in future classes and if you have a copy of the original, it will not take you long to notice the copy.
  • Careless editing skills can always be improved. If you think that this is an element that contributes to plagiarism (for example, poor citation, poor understanding of how to use quotes, and so on), then do something about it. Hold a lesson on the aspects of editing work. At the end, check out the students to make sure they understand the basics well.
  • Plagiarism is often a sign that the author is not coping with the task. This is an opportunity for student learning, not for reading or repulsion. Why does a student suffer from this and what can be done? Why do students firmly believe that they use their own words – what is the gap in understanding this and how can you overcome it? It is highly likely that younger or less experienced students missed these details of understanding and it would be good to find a means to improve understanding of what plagiarism is and how to find your own words and sentences. Do not make plagiarism avoid harsher than necessary, as this may alienate the student.
  • Some students will say “information is in free use” and the fact that it is on the Internet in order to use it. This kind of talk is a defense, but clearly wrong and as a teacher, you have to train your students. Help them understand that many of them or their peers will earn in words (these can be songs, novels, films, and so on) and then they will not be so enthusiastic to say that their hard work should be free.


  • Some teachers recommend quick oral checks to detect a student plagiarist. The problem with this method is that it may frighten an introvert or a shy person who actually did the work himself, but is very shocked by his performances in public or because he has to articulate his thoughts. Think twice before taking into account the results of the quick oral test. Due to such an aggressive approach, you reap what you sow.
  • It will be harder to find a person who paid to write a job or pass an exam for him. This is a simple deception and, if found, it usually leads to exclusion from the educational institution. Although the idea that there are people who do this can be enraging, they will incur deserved punishment – it’s quite difficult to maintain the quality of the work when you don’t understand what you are doing or what you are talking about. See if your institution conducts a check to make sure that the person is taking the exam and use your expectations from the student or class level to guide your intuition while you read the work.