Detecting Plagiarism

Two major approaches have been taken to detecting plagiarism: One is the use of plagiarism detection programs such as Turnitin.


There has, however, been criticism of this approach, and it can be controversial.

It is also possible to do a Google search on a specific group of words or a phrase that is common in the document you are checking to determine whether the search identifies sources in which these words have been used.

Signs of Possible Plagiarism

The other approach is to learn to identify the signs of plagiarism in student writing. These include lack of references or citations, citations of outdated or obscure sources, inconsistent formatting or margins and fonts, abrupt changes in tone or tense, vocabulary or word usage that is out of character for the student writer, and papers that are slightly off topic or do not follow instructions. These sites present some specific ideas: