Writing Guide: Avoiding plagiarism when writing

A library patron asked this question that we thought would be useful to share:

“Are there any tools for students to use in order to detect how original their papers are?”

The answer? Yes! A quick Google search will bring up a few options students can utilize to detect plagiarism.

Plagiarism can be quickly defined as an act of fraud that involves a person stealing another person’s work, and then trying to pass it off as their own. A good and simple way to avoid this while writing is to cite your sources correctly. So far we have one blog post on correct citation formats; look out for more!

Below are a few websites that may be of use to you the next time you’re writing a paper.

  • WriteCheck will check a single paper for plagiarism and grammar  for $7.95, and will give you 3 resubmissions of that document. They have two other plans that are reasonably priced that will let you submit more papers.
  • iThenticate will check a manuscript for $50 (must be 25,000 words and under). This would be useful if you were doing heavy-duty research.
  • PaperRater is a free site, all you have to do is copy and paste your document into the website. A premium version of the site will check for plagiarism and proofread your paper.
  • PlagScan is also a free site, and there is a max of 1,000 words that can be checked at a time.

Though two of the tools above require you to pay for their services, overall, you will likely receive a better and more thorough analysis of your paper through those than through the free sites as they probably have greater access to other documents to check against.

Professors and instructors will also often have written course assignments submitted through Turnitin.com, something you may notice in your courses in Canvas. Turnitin.com access is typically restricted to use by educators, however, so any of the other tools mentioned above will be your best bet.

Another great resource to check out is Plagiarism.org. The website contains excellent information on how to properly cite sources, paraphrase passages, quote material, and more. The UCF Writing Center also has a useful guide on plagiarism and misuse of sources in a handy PDF you can view.