0% plagiarism rate doesn’t exist
Even if you think you do not plagiarize, you do. Your every work has a plagiarism rate. Generally, a plagiarism level of up to 10% is considered normal due to citations and common phrases.
Anything above that is enough for your professor to give you a failing grade for the class. Accidental plagiarism happens more often that you think, and making sure plagiarism doesn’t happen to you is the job of every student. This is especially so in the time we live in – the digital age.
How plagiarism happens
Human brain is built in such a way that you might be using certain words and sentences, without even realizing that they are not your own. You might have read something a long time ago, forgot about it, and then under certain pressing circumstances (e.g. when writing a paper), this information you’ve read comes to the surface. You use it as if it’s your own, but it’s not. These days, we have to deal with information overload. There is so much information that’s communicated to us that it is hard to know which is comes from you and which does not. That is why the importance of using a plagiarism detector rises.
These are simple tips to combat plagiarism in the early stages of writing:
- Do not copy a single word. Even if you are rewriting something, make sure you rewrite it on the go and not once you’ve pasted it. It’s quite likely that you might forget to rephrase some part, and it will show up as plagiarized.
- Cite your sources right away, don’t leave it for later. If you don’t do so, you will sooner or later forget about some part you were supposed to cite.
- Don’t be reading your friends’ papers for inspiration. Your brain may play a trick on you and make you think that something you’ve seen in your friend’s work is actually yours. You will then write in your friend’s words without even realizing it. Sad, but true, this is how some students get failing grades.
Educators are increasingly using various plagiarism detectors, and the only way to combat that is to use one yourself. There are many to choose from, both free and paid. Presented are four services (2 free and 2 paid) to tale a loot at.
Top paid services
- Plagscan You would pay $13 per every 50 thousand words checked or $16 a month. The service has a major disadvantage though. It doesn’t check papers against offline publication databases.
- Plagiarism Detect will check one page (275 words) for 50 cents on premium quality or for 10 cents on standard quality. No recurring fees and no subscription. You just sign up and pay for credits that you later use to scan your works. The major competitive advantage is that the service goes through all online sources not protected by a password to look for similarities with your work.
Top free services
Nothing to be said here. These services are free. The quality might not be up there, but it’s well worth the cost.
If you can’t afford to use a paid service, you certainly should take advantage of the free ones. These days, we are overloaded with information, and you don’t really know anymore whether you have accidentally plagiarized or not. The words and sentences you use might not be yours, and your school performance is not something you would put at risk.
Rob Greenburg works as a copyright consultant investigating plagiarism cases on the internet.
“Cooperation with the companies who develop plagiarism checkers (software and online ones) and educational institutions has brought me great experience, which I would like to share with community. I think that my ideas could help teachers educate their students about plagiarism. At this point of time we can observe the increase of plagiarism cases, which clearly means that both students and teachers need to know more about it.”