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Saturday, November 13, 2010

A simple technique to detect plagiarism

How can you detect plagiarism? How can you be able to determine if a student’s paper is not his own work but was just copy and pasted from articles in the internet? Here’s a simple technique for the meticulous teacher.

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The advent of several websites and search engines offering free articles and information, though an advantage to students can be a disadvantage to teachers. They can be thought to believe that their students have labored enough to write a decent and proper research or term paper when in fact it was plagiarized. The convenience of copy paste technology can in fact create a setback. This may breed laziness, theft, and disrespect among students, the future of our country.

It doesn’t matter if the submitted paper is a hard copy (printed) or soft copy (saved in disks). Here are the steps:

1. Randomly select a part of the student’s submitted paper, one in which you suspect is plagiarized.

A sample of a submitted paper suspected of plagiarism

2. Select a sentence or phrase (around 5-10 words) from that selection and type it into the search box in Google. Enclose the sentence or phrase with quotation marks (this is a Google operator which means you are searching for the exact phrase). Click Search.
Type the text you wish to find in the internet.

3. If the material is directly copied from a certain website article, that website would surely come out in the search results. Happy hunting!
Usually, if it’s a plagiarized paper the, website it came from mostly comes out first after the search

Now try this with one of your student’s papers.

This information is mainly for teachers. However, this will also be a warning to students that plagiarism doesn’t pay. There will always be a way to catch you.

For graduate students, it would be such a same to be caught plagiarizing. Here are some simple rules to follow in order to avoid this:

• When using a direct quote from a book or article (1-2 sentences) always cite the author.
• Do not directly copy one whole paragraph from a source. You can either paraphrase or summarize it. Still don’t forget to cite the author.
• If the idea from a source is a general knowledge or concept, still do not directly copy every word. Tell it in your own way. One technique is to read 3 or more sources about the concept. Put them aside and digest what you have just read and think about how you would present it in your own words. Then write it. Make it a rule not to copy more than three words in succession from an author.

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