Three Things Teachers Need to Spot—and Stop—Plagiarism

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Three Things Teachers Need to Spot—and Stop—Plagiarism

from PlagiarismCheck

By Olena Sokolovska     Oct 8, 2018

Three Things Teachers Need to Spot—and Stop—Plagiarism

Ask any educator who teaches five classes of 30 students each per day; there’s a lot of homework to assess. And if that homework involves writing assignments, the hours add up fast. Checking student work for possible plagiarism, specifically, has become a time consuming burden for many educators.

It’s a problem that doesn’t seem to be going away. According to the International Center for Academic Integrity, 58% of more than 70,000 students surveyed say they have plagiarized someone else’s ideas in their writing.

Teachers’ options include checking for plagiarism manually or using time-saving software designed for this very purpose. But time isn’t the only challenge. When identifying instances of plagiarism, it’s important that any digital tools used are both reliable and easy to use.

Plagiarism-detection software can address the most pressing needs of classroom educators faced with assessing students’ written work. Here’s how:

1. Teachers Need More Time

The Challenge: The larger the class is, and the more students that are in it, the longer it takes to review each written assignment—checking grammar, style, originality of ideas, etc. This is especially important when screening for plagiarism.

When it comes to scanning written assignments, teachers need to define whether the writing is authentic or is instead borrowed from other sources. Doing this manually involves selecting pieces of text and using Google search to identify possible matches. Some educators prefer this approach, as it doesn’t require purchasing or using any software. However, the process can be inordinately time consuming. What’s more, the manual approach is rarely 100% precise as it’s often impossible to thoroughly screen an entire piece of writing.

The Solution: Plagiarism detection software allows teachers to get more accurate results while saving precious hours. My company’s tool,, can scan a three-page paper—with approximately 275 words per page—in less than a minute. This allows teachers to spend more time assessing the most meaningful aspects of student writing—such as style, tone and voice—instead of determining whether the content is original or plagiarized.

Get free access to for the month of October. To start, schedule a demo with our representatives for K-12 schools or higher ed institutions.

2. Evidence Must Be Reliable

The Challenge: When identifying plagiarism, teachers need to be confident in their assessment. Accusing students of academic dishonesty is a weighty claim; it can lead to their suspension or even expulsion from school.

Over the past decade, cases of serious plagiarism—and their consequences—have been well documented. When more than 800 Canadian university students were disciplined for cheating in 2011-2012, roughly half the instances were attributed to plagiarism. In 2013, some 70 students were forced to leave Harvard University after a widely publicized plagiarizing scandal. And in 2015, 8000 Chinese students were expelled from American universities for plagiarizing and other forms of cheating.

The Solution: Plagiarism-detection software that uses AI algorithms can understand text even better than humans. Such algorithms:

  • exclude phrases containing oft-repeated, common knowledge, such as “the earth moves around the sun” or “London is the capital of Great Britain”;
  • capture plagiarized text found in quotations and bibliographic references and highlight it in a separate section of the software’s report;
  • detect different forms of similarity in a plagiarized text—including text that’s been copied and pasted, synonyms that have been swapped for a passage’s original words, changed word order in an otherwise identical piece of writing, the replacement of a passive voice with an active voice in an essay, paraphrasing, etc.

The ability to analyze paraphrased text effectively doubles the amount of plagiarism that can be detected. We know this from scanning 45 million pages over the past three years. Text that has been copied and pasted without any changes make up just 20% of the plagiarism we identify when checking student work. Paraphrased text analysis, however, accounts for 40% of plagiarized content.

3. Tools Must Be Easy to Use

The Challenge: Adapting to new software is always time-consuming. Not only does a teacher have to fully understand how it operates—so do students.

The Solution: The interface of any plagiarism detection software should be extremely intuitive. Both teachers and students should find it easy from day one, without pouring through instruction manuals and watching long tutorials. Moreover, the interface should be self-explanatory and not overloaded with buttons, forms, and instructions.

If a teacher wants to refer to the original piece of writing that was plagiarized, the tool should provide the links to the resources—websites, digital books, other student work, etc.—where a match has been detected. At, we’ve made it even more convenient for educators; our software highlights the original text on screen so teachers can quickly see which passages were borrowed. Here’s a sneak peek of what one of our reports looks like:


Our team of developers and linguists have developed this tool to detect different kinds of plagiarism in students’ work with the goal of making the assessment process for teachers faster, easier and more reliable. We are happy to offer a month-long free trial to educators who want to try out our tool in their schools. To give our tool a spin for the month of October, schedule a demo with our K-12 or higher ed representatives.

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