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Things You Need to Know About Plagiarism and Originality Detectors

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the act of wrongly appropriating ideas or words without giving credit to the source. But it isn’t limited to that. In the broad sense, plagiarism is a theft of one’s intellectual property, be it an image, music sample, invention, or concept. This type of violation may also be referred to as copyright infringement.

No matter how it occurs, knowingly or not, plagiarizing is a serious offense. It is like stealing someone’s voice and depriving yourself of developing your own.

In education, plagiarism is considered to be one of the most severe violations of academic integrity. Both teachers and students are urged to follow the principles of academic honesty and acknowledge the sources, concepts, or ideas they use.

Plagiarism comes in different shapes:

Word-for-word plagiarism or direct plagiarism refers to taking words directly from an outside source without giving credit to their author. The easiest way to avoid this type of plagiarism is to place the sentence inside quotation marks and then cite the source.

Self-plagiarism occurs when a person recycles their own work and submits it as new writing. The best that one can do is cite one’s work at all times.

Accidental plagiarism happens when something escapes attention when attributing to an external source, such as unintentional paraphrases without stating a source, failure to follow citation rules, etc. To avoid accidental plagiarism, one should take notes about every source used and review citation rules.

Mosaic plagiarism or patchwriting occurs when a person overuses quotes without acknowledging original sources. This type of plagiarism may indicate a lack of research or proper understanding of the topic. Even though a source may be mentioned in the footnotes, it is not sufficient and is likely to be considered a serious violation.

Collusion entails unauthorized collaboration on a paper. Teachers typically provide clear guidelines on what can be done collectively and what requires individual effort. When in doubt, be sure to make things clear in advance.

What commonly-made mistakes lead to plagiarism?

Academic institutions state that students may commit plagiarism because of inattentiveness or lack of understanding. They may not know how to cite sources properly, how much-cited material is allowed, how to make bibliographies and footnotes, etc. That’s why it’s extremely important to encourage open conversation.

Some of the most common mistakes include:

  • Failure to cite the source mentioned in the essay or thesis
  • Incorrect usage of quotation marks
  • Recycling too much text or too many ideas that belong to someone else without sharing one's own
  • Paraphrasing the original source without giving credit
  • Citing incorrect sources
  • Submitting a paper that originally doesn't belong to the student
  • Failure to cite the source mentioned in the essay or thesis
  • Failure to cite the source mentioned in the essay or thesis
  • Taking large portions of previously-submitted papers without acknowledging one's own work (usually treated as self-plagiarism)
How to prevent plagiarism?

K-12 and Higher Ed institutions are serious about preventing plagiarism and provide detailed guidelines for avoiding it in papers:

  • Keep detailed and accurate notes about sources used
  • Follow the citation guidelines (APA, MLA, Harvard, or other academic writing styles adopted at one’s university or college)
  • Put quotation marks around any borrowed words
  • Give credit to the author even if his or her words were summarized or paraphrased
  • Be sure to cite one’s own essay or thesis as you would for other cited works
  • Use a robust plagiarism checker like Unicheck to verify whether all sources were properly attributed

Teachers also recommend dividing writing tasks into easily-achievable milestones. By completing these assignments step-by-step, students feel less pressure and, therefore, become more motivated to tackle them without looking for shortcuts.

Submitting rough drafts to receive advice creates moments of personal learning, preventing plagiarism and cheating attempts and helping students spend less time writing in the future.

What plagiarism checkers exist?

Plagiarism checkers can be separated into standalone online tools as well as more complex software solutions embedded into learning management systems (like Canvas, Moodle, or Google Classroom).

The first ones fit the needs of individual users like students or teachers. They usually search for text matches only across online sources. A great many of them have a checkbox to copy and paste user text. Alternatively, they may ask a user to sign up and check texts from the comfort of a personal dashboard. These originality detectors may also support URL checks to ensure that published content has no duplication elsewhere on the internet.

The second group is tailored to the needs of educational institutions and provide more sophisticated features that can allow exchanging feedback, getting analytics on class originality levels, checking papers across institution databases, etc.

Since they’re integrated with LMSs, the most efficient plagiarism checking software requires little effort from a user. Administrators have them installed and set up, instructors enable them for specific courses, and students submit papers that automatically pass through a plagiarism check.

How to use a plagiarism checker?

Free online plagiarism checkers usually have a checkbox to paste a text in. By clicking the button, all found similarities are highlighted. It’s as simple as that.

There are dozens of registration-free plagiarism tools out there. However, few of them provide quality search capabilities. Their algorithms are often too primitive and can’t deliver accurate results. These checkers also don’t guarantee the security of uploaded texts.

Reliable checkers are rare, and all of them require signup. Some offer freemiums, like the free online plagiarism checker provided by Unicheck. This may be enough for a user to test the tool’s capacities before they sign up for a longer-term.

To start using a plagiarism checker like Unicheck.com, one simply needs to log in, verify their email address, and purchase pages to enable plagiarism search. The next steps are simple to reproduce: upload a text and push the check file button. Once the check is complete, Unicheck provides a handy report and percentage of matches found.

Plagiarism detector vs. manual checking

Manual checking entails a lot of work: one must verify all suspicious passages, quotes, footnotes, and the list of references at the end of the paper. And it doesn’t end there. All illustrations, like graphs or tables, also need careful checking for proper attribution.

When this work is carried out by a professional, plagiarism checking may produce better results than an originality checker. Manual checking can be effective when there are no tight deadlines and no required proof of text uniqueness.

However, when time and evidence matter, the best option is to entrust essay or thesis checking to specialized software. With their enormous capabilities, originality detectors like Unicheck can handle thousands of checks at a time without slowdowns.

Other features supported by Unicheck include:

  • Quickly check a document—each page is scanned within 4 seconds
  • Multiple text formats supported, including .docx, .rtf, .txt, .odt, .html, .pdf, .ppt
  • Search against real-time web index, which means that an uploaded text will be compared to web sources that appeared only 5 hours before the search
  • Interactive report with a clickable list of matching sources
  • Downloadable report with all major data, including the percentage of text matches, citations, references, links to matching sources, and highlighted unoriginal content
  • Color mask that helps quickly find citations and references
  • Percentage of similarities adjusts in real-time, so once you exclude a source, Unicheck updates the similarity percentage immediately
  • Handy dashboard with a search bar and a drag-and-drop option
How does a plagiarism checker work?

To carry out checks against web sources, plagiarism checkers use web index, but due to how costly this is, few of them can search through it efficiently.

So, they seek cheaper workarounds. That’s why the hundreds of free online plagiarism checkers provide inaccurate search results. You can check this yourself by submitting the same text for checking to different online checkers—the similarity score is likely to be different.

More advanced tools use paid web search and have sophisticated search algorithms that examine sentence components in various combinations, which ensures more precise search results.

Some of the advanced originality detectors, like Unicheck, use real-time web index, meaning that a user receives a more accurate similarity percentage.

To expand search capacities, checkers may also scan academic databases, open online repositories, academic journals, or databases shared by universities. However, this type of check is more in demand among educational institutions.

What are the consequences of plagiarism?

K-12 and higher education continuously warn students about the severe plagiarism consequences they may face, which varies from disciplinary action to suspension or expulsion from a college or university.

If students take big risks, why haven’t academic dishonesty rates been significantly reduced? Students approach plagiarism differently. They may think that unauthorized collaboration is less of an issue than plagiarizing a final exam paper. One can hardly disagree that the severity of academic misconduct varies, and so do the penalties. But it is still plagiarism, so it can’t be ignored.

In an academic setting, there are honor codes and misconduct committees handling academic integrity violations. They decide on the penalties, taking into account all previously registered misdeeds. This also refers to academics, researchers, instructors, etc., since everyone involved in the academic world should support academic integrity policies.

The consequences of plagiarism may lead to these outcomes:

Failed course and reputation. Plagiarism may result in an “F” grade and failed course, which damages reputations and provokes suspicion in each subsequent paper.

Devalued college degree and poor knowledge. Plagiarism deprives a student of gaining a profound skillset and knowledge. Therefore, a college diploma becomes a mere sheet of paper that hardly serves as a proof of professionalism.

Damaged career. Plagiarism makes it difficult to transfer to another university or college, and in some cases, it may negatively impact a future career. Countries that place a high weight on reputation and credentials may not be willing to hire an employee with a shady past.

Suspension or dismissal from a college. Repeated plagiarism allegations may result in dismissal from an academic institution and entail extra expenses.

Legal consequences. Stealing someone’s ideas or words may lead to legal repercussions if a copyright breach occurs, but this often happens in the journalism and media industries.

How can Unicheck help prevent plagiarism?

A plagiarism checker isn’t a cure-all, but its efficient work can help you stay safe. As an individual user, you’re likely looking for a quick, accurate, handy, and affordable checker, which you receive with Unicheck.

Unicheck can eventually become your lifetime assistant. The originality detector ensures an accurate similarity search against the web in real-time. The plagiarism checking service recently moved to the Amazon Cloud, improving its uptime and allowing you to run checks without glitches even during peak season.

The report delivered to you upon completion of a similarity check is simple and comprehensive. It calculates total similarity score, contains a clickable list of matching sources, highlights citations, references, and any similarity inside the text. No broken links or outdated sources—Unicheck eliminates them, providing you only with relevant information.

Because of Unicheck’s intuitive and frequently-upgraded interface, navigating the dashboard takes seconds. So, you can focus on the scanned text rather than searching for a button that isn’t in the right place.

Unicheck also allows for downloading a .pdf report with the same data as its online version.

Unicheck’s user-centered team frequently upgrades the originality checker. For help with new updates or assistance with anything else, you can always contact our 24/7 support team.

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