What’s the best plagiarism checker for 2020 and do you need it?
Nothing can damage a writer’s reputation or student record more than an accusation of plagiarism.
Even the hint of an accusation can impact your grades or your livelihood, so it is essential to turn in copy and assignments plagiarism-free.
While most issues are unintentional, improper citations and quotes are sometimes considered plagiarism.
That’s why a plagiarism check should form part of every writer or editor’s workflow.
Since it is critical to avoid plagiarism in all forms, writers and students should routinely use an online plagiarism checker or detection tool before submitting work.
This article covers the best.
It contains some affiliate links meaning Become a Writer Today earns a small commission if you sign up.Get the Best Price on a Plagiarism Checker
- What Is a Plagiarism Checker?
- Why Use a Plagiarism Checker?
- Benefits of Using Plagiarism Checkers
- Which Plagiarism Checker Do Teachers Use?
- Which Plagiarism Checkers Are Available for Students?
- What Is the Best Plagiarism Checker for Students? Our Reviews May Surprise You!
- Which Plagiarism Checker Is Best?
What Is a Plagiarism Checker?
A plagiarism checker is a piece of software available online that can check a document or a portion of a document for duplicate or plagiarised content.
The checker scans the internet for other uses of the same phrases, terms or quotes. In some cases, a sensitive plagiarism checker can also detect similarities in wording and paraphrasing.
Plagiarism checkers look for direct quotes and similar wording between your document and other pieces of content online.
Quotes cited correctly are not plagiarism, but will still be detected by plagiarism detectors, as will similar sentences, paragraphs, phrases, and titles.
Common word pairings and uses are not considered plagiarism — a detector that is so sensitive it picks up common word combinations would not be very useful.
A plagiarism checker or tool compares your document with others and highlights the similarities. This allows you to ensure your quotes are cited properly and that you have not been inadvertently influenced too much by one source.
If you get a positive result from a plagiarism checker, go back and correct the problematic part. If you submit an important document without checking, you could end up in trouble and with a failing grade, so taking this extra step is a critical part of the writing process.
Plagiarism detectors are available online from a variety of brands; I have tested each plagiarism checker with the same passage to give you an idea of how they work.
I’ve included a review of the plagiarism checker by Grammarly and other brands to help you pick what works.
Why Use a Plagiarism Checker?
Plagiarism checkers can check your document and compare it to others found online. They are an effective way of ensuring you’ve created an original piece and cited sources or quotes correctly.
Consider a plagiarism checker an essential part of writing — like spellcheck software — that ensures your document or paper is polished.
Plagiarism checkers can be used to cross-check text for duplicated content (this may include quoted material, paraphrased material, similarities in wording, etc.). This essential writing tool helps ensure that the text is original and correctly cited.
These tools can help polish your work. In an academic setting, a plagiarism detector can help you polish and prepare your work for submitting.
Benefits of Using Plagiarism Checkers
1. Superior Results
If you need to know when a local shop is open, Google is ideal. If you want to check your document for plagiarism, though, Google can be hit or miss.
This is problematic because Google could tell you that your own paper is fine (when there are incorrectly cited quotes or other issues). You could submit a flawed paper that doesn’t get the right grade or triggers an academic review.
If Google gets it wrong, you could end up making unnecessary changes that weaken the document or content. This also adds time to the process and could impact your grade. Using a tool like Turnitin from the start eliminates these risks.
Even if a search engine like Google can find a phrase or piece from your document online, it is not always clear where that piece is. Google may return a page for results but not give you the details you need as part of a useful plagiarism check.
3. High-Quality, Detailed Matches
When you use a free plagiarism checker on content, you get a detailed report of the matches found along with a percentage of the document that is considered to be duplicate content.
This is useful because even a document that has quotes that are properly cited could get a lower grade if you have too many of them. If quotes and other properly cited phrases are too large of a percentage of your paper, it could impact your grade.
4. Peace of Mind
When you use a plagiarism tool, you can submit knowing it is free of duplicate content and cited properly. This step can eliminate risk, improve your work and reduce the stress and anxiety.
5. Better Writing
If you’re creating content for a client or publication, running your finished piece through a plagiarism checker can help you spot quotes needing citations.
Running a quote through a checker can help you find and authenticate the source, too.
One of the worst things you can do as a writer is turn in copy with plagiarised content, even accidentally. An editor who finds copied content will likely reject the piece and refuse to work with you again.
Which Plagiarism Checker Do Teachers Use?
Teachers use a wide range of tools to check for plagiarism, including the free checkers listed below. Since they have the same access to tools you do, running your document through a free plagiarism checker before submitting ensures you know what kind of results they will get.
Some teachers still rely on Google as a tool, but more savvy instructors will use a solution like Turnitin, so you should do the same, just in case.
Which Plagiarism Checkers Are Available for Students?
You have several options if you want to check plagiarism in your document:
- Turnitin: This plagiarism checker is used by many courses and programs and is available through Brightspace. This detector is often in official use for a course and used to check submissions automatically against a variety of sources.
- Grammarly: You may know Grammarly for their writing improvement and proofreading tools, but it also has a robust and useful plagiarism detector.
- WriteCheck: This is another version of Turnitin, available for students.
- Google: While it is not terribly effective, some teachers use a search engine to detect plagiarism. This works if you copy and paste direct quotes but it’s sensitive enough to identify paraphrasing.
Below is a detailed look at each of these options. I tested each checker tool with a piece of copied text, some paraphrasing, and an improperly cited quote to see what they picked up.
What Is the Best Plagiarism Checker for Students? Our Reviews May Surprise You!
I reviewed the solutions below to get the latest insights on this important process — here’s what you need to know about these useful tools:
When you ask which plagiarism checker or detection tool universities use, they point to this one.
While there is no way to check this from the student-facing side (without submitting a document to a teacher) here’s what you should know about Turnitin.
Turnitin is a software solution for schools, sold by a business, to a business, so you can’t check your own individual work.
According to Turnitin’s sales materials, every document that is submitted to a teacher through the portal is scanned and checked.
Turnitin stresses that it offers more than plagiarism detection. It provides a comprehensive and proprietary scoring system for each piece it scans. The brand provides a “similarity index,” a percentage score and a report that gives teachers more insight into the piece.
- Cost: Turnitin is sold to schools, not students, so you can’t buy access or an account. You can access it free if your teacher is using it.
- Pros: This is a sophisticated piece of software and able to provide teachers with accurate details about your piece.
- Cons: You can’t run your paper through on your own before submitting it.
If your teacher is using Turnitin, you should run your paper through another plagiarism detection software before submitting. This is a good practice before you submit any paper, but absolutely essential if your teacher is using Turnitin.
Grammarly has both a paid and a free plagiarism detector; this feature is offered alongside the proofreading tools the site is known for. You can access Grammarly for free and check your paper or content online.
- Cost: Free, with a premium version available.
- Pros: Fast and free, Grammarly also proofreads your document and checks for a wide range of issues.
- Cons: Reporting is not as robust as other tools.
I ran some content through Grammarly. While picked up intentional plagiarism and an improperly cited quote, it allowed a pretty heavily and obviously paraphrased passage through. Here are the results:
Try the free online version first or read my comprehensive Grammarly review.
This plagiarism detector is free. It asks questions about your paper before it is checked. You can indicate your grade level, what type of paper it is and other factors before checking. Note that pushing the “premium” button will automatically transfer you to Grammarly.
- Cost: Free.
- Pros: Fast and easy to use.
- Cons: This plagiarism checker wasn’t as accurate as Grammarly – it did not detect the obvious plagiarism in my passage – and opting for the premium version offered in the results transferred us to Grammarly. Save time and use Grammarly or another detector from the start on your content to avoid issues.
This plagiarism detection software offers plenty of features but requires more details to start checking original content. While the other checkers here allow you to drop in a passage and go, this one requires a login and some additional details.
- Cost: Varied, I was quoted $15 to check the submitted passage and 99 others.
- Pros: Unknown, premium access required.
- Cons: Promoted as a free service, Unicheck requires you to pay before your paper is checked, but it doesn’t tell you this until you enter your email, personal details, and your paper.
This is a paid plagiarism detection solution with a free trial. You must sign up to use this tool, but the signup is fast, easy and does not require a credit card for the trial period.
Once my email was verified, I received immediate free credits — enough to check the passage and some future papers as well.
- Cost: You get 20 credits free – after that, 100 credits will cost you $12.00
- Pros: Very sensitive checker that picked up all of the intentional plagiarism and paraphrasing. Robust reporting and easy-to-read details.
- Cons: Not many, though you do have to share your email and details to access the checker.
This versatile tool offers some additional features that make it suitable for all kinds of writing. The free trial version offers a full lineup of tools and robust reporting.
- Cost: Free version available
- Pros: Very comprehensive list of potential issues to check beyond plagiarism, including overused words and other components that could improve your writing if addressed.
- Cons: Few, this is a useful and fully functioning program. A beginner could find the sheer number of choices overwhelming, but it is intuitive and easy to use.
See my ProWritingAid Review.
Which Plagiarism Checker Is Best?
By deliberately inserting plagiarised and paraphrased passages, there was an advantage of knowing what the detector “should” uncover.
Of the plagiarism detection tools above, all but Paper Rater picked up on the plagiarised passages. Two, including PlagScan and ProWritingAid, also identified the paraphrased sections, making these slightly more sensitive and useful.
I’d consider using ProWritingAid as a plagiarism detection tool too. It offers a combo of comprehensive detection and editing tools — and don’t mind paying for the service. The free version of PlagScan was a favorite, as well, and picked up everything I expected it to.
Add one or more of these plagiarism detectors to your writer’s tool box and you’ll never have to worry about the work you’re submitting again.
What website can I use to check for plagiarism?
I recommend using Grammarly as it works from anywhere and is relatively easy to use with most types of writing and content. You can copy and paste text into this tool and check it almost instantly.
Is Grammarly plagiarism checker reliable?
Yes, it can find instances of plagiarism in your work using this tool. As an example try pasting an extract from this article into Grammarly and watch it pull through the URL
Got more questions for this FAQ about these plagiarism detectors and tools? Ask me below.
Get your 101 writing prompts today
Need help getting started writing? Use these proven writing prompts. I'll also send you practical writing advice and more as part of my newsletter.