How Do Colleges Check for Plagiarism in Essays?

The modern age of information has meant that colleges and universities must adopt new strategies to combat plagiarism, which is when a student passes off somebody else’s work as their own. Professors have access to specialized software programs that can check papers, reports and essays by evaluating suspect words and phrases. In some cases, other methods such as reviewing writing styles or references are used.

Writing Style Analysis

Becoming familiar with a student’s writing style can help to determine if a paper is plagiarized. For example, an uneven mix of both amateur and sophisticated sentences can be a red flag, according to the anti-plagiarism guidelines for MIT’s Writing and Humanities Program. Other good indicators tend to be unusual choices of phrases or diction, which seem inconsistent with previous writing samples from the student.

Plagiarism Search Services

Search services like Turnitin or Plagiarism.org is another popular option used by colleges and universities to check the integrity of work. Instructors will often have students submit their work directly through the services site, which will generate an email if any plagiarism is detected. These services scan student papers and essays against a database of previously submitted papers, books and web searches. Matching web links and phrases are then compiled into a report for the institution to review. If you’re a student, the best thing you can do is write in your own words, always cite your sources, and use high-quality plagiarism-free essays writing services like EssaysWriting.org.

Reference and Format Reviews

Suspicious papers may contain inconsistencies that professors have become accustomed to over their career. For example, mismatched subheading styles, mixed tables, and margins that don’t follow requirements are often a red flag that plagiarism has occurred. Mixed paragraph styles can suggest that the writer has copied and pasted blocks of text from a webpage, while out-of-date references or the use of source material that’s unavailable at the institution may indicate that a student has had the essay written by somebody else.

Electronic Screening Software

Throughout the 1990s, more and more universities began to adopt various software programs to defend against plagiarism. These programs allow instructors to search billions of sources, including books, journals, and websites for similar passages surfacing in essays and research papers. They also provide instructors with the ability to determine whether a paper has come from a term paper or online essay mill; many of the low-quality options recycle similar content and references, significantly increasing the chance of getting caught out.

Other Applications

Anti-plagiarism steps have applications outside of academia alone. According to the Los Angeles Times, over one hundred colleges and universities in the US use programs like Turnitin to review admissions essay statements for plagiarism. Most of this scrutiny is aimed at graduate students, although some institutions conduct similar reviews for undergraduate applicants. If plagiarism is detected, it’s down to the college to decide if it’s serious enough to reject the applicant.

With so many ways for colleges to check for plagiarism, it’s simply not worth it!

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Boris Dzhingarov .

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