How Does Plagiarism Software Work?

Writing an essay for school or copy for a website? Make sure you are not plagiarizing someone else’s work. Learn how does plagiarism software work in this article.

To avoid plagiarism, you need to give credit to the original publisher. Today, lots of plagiarism is unintentional.

For example, you might write something that is similar to something you have written before, plagiarizing yourself unintentionally. If you publish content online that is already found on other web pages, search engines could punish you using their algorithms, harming your SEO.

If you use an online plagiarism checker, this is going to check online sources for any signs of “copy and paste” from original sources. If the plagiarism detection system finds that your work mirrors something that has already been published, it will let you know, asking you to change it. How can you find the best plagiarism software for you?

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How Does Plagiarism Checking Software Work?

How does plagiarism software work?

First, understand that plagiarism detection tools do not determine intent. If your content mirrors other content found elsewhere on the internet, it was probably done unnecessarily.

Even if you used quotes, put in a parenthetical citation, and used APA or MLA citations at the bottom, the software program is still going to highlight it, triggering plagiarism hit. That is because most plagiarism checkers work the same way.

A plagiarism checker will crawl the internet, look for content matches, and let you know if it sees anything similar to your work. Some plagiarism tools have a database of files they use. Other plagiarism tools scan the internet in real-time looking for published content that is similar.

Then, based on what the software program finds, a report will be generated. Sometimes, the plagiarized sections will be highlighted. In other cases, the tool will provide links to sources that look similar.

In essence, a plagiarism checker works similarly to search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. It crawls the internet and looks for web content. Instead of looking for keywords, it is looking for similar content that might be stored on various websites.

The Process: There Are Four Methods

How does plagiarism software work?
Phrase Analysis: Instead of looking for a single word, this tool looks for strings of words that are ordered the same.

In general, there are four ways a plagiarism checker will look for similar content. These include:

  • Keyword Analysis: This is similar to a search engine. You input a document and the software program scans for instances of that same word in the same place. If the software program finds that you are using specific words in the same places as other articles, it will register a plagiarism hit. The downside is that this option does not identify paraphrasing, which could also be plagiarism. Paraphrasing is where the ideas are the same, but the words are positioned differently, which is not enough to trigger a hit from this program.
  • Phrase Analysis: Instead of looking for a single word, this tool looks for strings of words that are ordered the same. For example, anything with more than five words used in the same order might trigger a match. One downside of this method is that if the words are ordered differently, or swapped out for synonyms, that work might evade this program.
  • Content Matches: This method looks at the style of the writing, comparing it to other documents. This is not a word-for-word analysis but instead looks for similar structure, style, and phrasing to determine hits. If the overall structure, feel, and tone of the article is similar, then this program might trigger a hit. This program can get a bit overzealous and register content matches that might not be plagiarism, particularly if two writers have similar tones and styles.
  • The Fingerprint Method: The fingerprint method looks at word fragments that appear in a document in the same order. The goal is to not only look at the words that were used but also the order of the fragments to see if the document has been lifted and pasted from another source. For example, if someone copies an article, pastes it, and then tries to expand on it, alter a few words, and add more paragraphs, the overall fingerprint is still the same. This will trigger a plagiarism hit.

If there is any content that is unoriginal, the plagiarism software could highlight it and indicate where it came from.

Examples of Plagiarism Detection Software

There are several examples of plagiarism detection programs available. These include:

  • Grammarly is best known as a grammar checker; however, there is also a plagiarism checker with the premium plan. Grammarly works with numerous sources and uses sophisticated algorithms to identify similar phrases; however, it can be overzealous in highlighting almost anything that is remotely similar to other web pages.
  • ProWritingAid is a grammar checker that offers plagiarism detection as an add-on. The check is fast and accurate, providing access to a detailed report showing where the hits came from. While it might not have the same database as Grammarly, it does a great job for most purposes.
  • Copyscape is one of the best-known plagiarism checkers in the world. It is expensive, but it can handle long documents and shows exactly what phrases came from where and what percentage of the work appears similar to other documents.

Consider these plagiarism checkers if you are looking for an anti-plagiarism tool.

Final Word on How Does Plagiarism Software Work

Plagiarism software uses a sophisticated algorithm that is similar to search engines to scan your work for similarities from other web pages. Then, it will highlight what pages are similar, what percentage of the work appears copied, and could offer suggestions on how to fix this.

There are plenty of plagiarism tools out there, so compare the benefits and drawbacks of each option. Then, find the best tool to meet your needs. If you need help finding the best tools to help you avoid plagiarism, reach out to a professional to learn more.

FAQs About How Does Plagiarism Software Work

Is all plagiarism intentional?

No, a lot of plagiarism is unintentional. Sometimes, people unknowingly paraphrase something else on the internet. Other people even engage in self-plagiarism, where they copy something they had written and published previously.

Will a plagiarism software label something as copied even if I use quotes and cite it?

Yes. A plagiarism tool does not determine intent. It simply highlights things that are similar, even if you use quotes and cite them properly.

Will Plagiarism Hurt My SEO Score?

Yes, if you plagiarize something already found on the internet, it can harm your SEO score.

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