Following last weeks post on the improvements made to Turnitin, I thought it might be valuable to higlight some of the other mechanisms for detecting plagiarsm that are out there. Also these tools may be of use to the PGCE trainees and students as some are freely accessable on the internet and many are billed as a way to improve your writting.
1 Up first - Google
This search engine has so many uses, but for those who are familitar with extracts of course materials or reccomended reading this can be a fast confirmation that a student has lifted the text straight out of a book/ paper/ webpage. By just using Google as it is and including the text under concern in quoted ( " " ) you can quickly get a idea as to wether it has been lifted veratim. For papers it is work looking at GoogleScholar using the same searching mechanism.
2. Plagiarism Checker
This is a very simple plagiagrism chaecker, originally created as a project for the University of Maryland. Although very basic, it does offer a quick test, but copying and pasteing a chunk of text into the main text inout area and clicking "check paper". Although this is nothing special, it might be a good tool for trainees and students to vet their own work. A more advance version is available at a cost, but why do this when the university has Turnitin.
3. Doc Cop
Again this offers a free service for checking small documents. It essentially checks one document against another (up to eight documents), which works for the teachers (in schools) that it was aimed at originally. Again if you want more then a cost is involved.
4. Paper Rater
This is another free service, but rather than for detecting plagiarism it grades the paper and the detection is a bonus. The tool states how original the paper is, but doen't check the references are correctly cited and used. The bonus though is students use this tool, is the spelling and grammar checks. It did make suggestions for words used under the 'word choice' checker that were not correct for the example text entered. However, the style section of the feedback would help writers to improve their reports. The final element of the tool looks at the vocab used by the writter and offers helpful suggestions. All in all it is a nice tool for trainees or students to self check, rather than for a tutor to use. The feedback built into the tool is very well structured and would benifit any weaker writers assisting them to improve for the next report.
5. Plagiarism Checker .com
The PlagiarismChecker.com is nothing sophisticated, but actually just a very clever front on to Google. This tool will not check more than 32 words, which coincerdentally, is the limit of words on the google search term field. I works well enough, but oe the most case you could just use google (number 1 in this list).
This tool is more aimed at school teachers checking pupil work, but is another option to check the sumbitted materials for free. However, unlike the tools identified in the list above, this one does not work online, but is a download and hence I have not really investigated it to any depth.
Plagium works like most of the other online tools looked at, there is a text box, into which you paste the text to be checked and then click the button. Unlike the other tools, this does not use google as the search engine, but Yahoo instead. It is very basic, but will allow trainees and students to identify very basic areas of plaigarism within their work.
But really, by pointing out these tools for checking to the trainees and students are we not just offereing them a way in which to check the work they have plagiagrised, and making it more difficult to identify when they have done something. You could argue that, but at the same time you could say that providing these tools for their use would help them to learn about Plagiarism and the potential effects it can have on both their marks at university and their future careers. If any one who writes academic papers can say hand on hart that they have never made a simple mistake when citing a paper then they will be one of the rarest animals on this planet. As we are all aware educations and provention is better than the out fall later.
But this means that we need to educate the students and trainees. Well there are resources to assist in this as well.
1. Universitiy Regulations
2. Purdue University online writing resource
3. Plagiarism.org which has been created by the team who have developed the Turnitin tool.
We really at some point need to make trainees and students aware that we check and they should be checking before submitting any work.