|Plagiarism tools are just a mouse click away *|
For eons, teachers and professors often suspected students of plagiarizing their work. Sometimes the phrasing of papers in a class was just too similar, or the student who had difficulty determining subject from verb suddenly turned in a paper that sang with stylish prose. But except for the student who simply copied from a book in the high school library, or tried to claim the words of Emily Bronte as her own, the teacher had a difficult time proving her suspicions.
The problem was exacerbated in the 1990s as services selling term papers over the Internet proliferated. For $50, you could purchase an "A" paper from a university on the other side of the country, download it, print it off on your own computer - even adding a spelling mistake or two to allay suspicion.
But no more.
The past decade has seen the development of a myriad of plagiarism detection systems. Whether it's protecting your own work, or making sure that the work submitted by others is truly original, these are useful tools and the bane of the lazy student.
How do the programs work? They all have their differences, but essentially they create a huge database of student papers and other known works, as well as capabilities of searching online resources. A student, teacher or publisher then submits the new material. The computers run a check and determine if there are large segments of text that are copied exactly or nearly from all the text in the database. The system then spits out a report on the likelihood of copying, and the source from which the copying may have occurred.
Among the pay resources available:
Turnitin - an online service by iParadig used by many schools, colleges and universities
Attributor - for protecting authors and publishers from unauthorized use of content
Copyscape (for checking online use of your copyrighted material)
Among the free resources for plagiarism checking:
Chimpsky - developed by the University of Waterloo
eTBlast - provided by Virginia Tech
* photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/andormix/4866867005/">Andormix - Isaac Torrontera</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>