Although we all react differently when forced to deal with plagiarism, most of us would agree that we both dread and revile the sight of it. After spending weeks, months and years teaching proper citation and academic honesty, finding plagiarism can sting a little. Students plagiarize for a variety of reasons (many of them innocuous, many not) and while we agree that these reasons merit a discussion, we’re going to take the easy route (it is Monday morning after all) and instead talk about a new website we came across called PlagTracker. We suggest sharing it with your students.
PlagTracker: A free plagiarism detector
Plag Tracker is a free web application that allows users to copy and paste their documents into a plagiarism detector. Using a “checking algorithm,” Plag Tracker then checks your work against 14 billion web pages and 5 million academic papers.
We uploaded one of our blogs—one we posted on our site and also on a few other education-related websites—just to see what would happen. 15 minutes after we submitted our work, we received an email notification, along with a link, which took us to the final report. Here’s what it looked like:
Conveniently, every plagiarized sentence becomes a hyperlink. When you click on it, a new hyperlink to the original source appears under “sources found.”
If you look to the right, under “Sources Found,” you’ll see all of the sources PlagTracker thinks we “plagiarized” from. Like we said above, we often repost our own blogs on educational communities and websites like ASCD Edge. True to its word, Plag Track did a nice job of finding them.
While Plag Track is useful, it’s not flawless. For example, it suggested that the sentence below came from a Wikipedia entry about Microsoft Security Essentials.
“If you are looking for a few more tips for providing effective feedback, check out one of our recent blogs, “Offering your students effective feedback: 5 essentials.”
Huh? Like we said, it’s not perfect, but still quite useful.
Your students are welcome to use Plag Track’s service for free, but they can also upgrade to a Premium account for $7.49 a month which gives them access to:
- Instant reports (no processing time)
- Grammar checks
- Reference processing
- PDF versions of their reports so they can view them offline
- Database checks, which will cross check the publications database
- File uploading capabilities
- Unlimited checking volume for large documents
Since the service is free, you might consider not only having your students submit their work to Plag Track, but also have them attach a copy of the final report to their work when they submit it for your review.
If you're looking to suppliment your writing curriculum, we’ve put together a new guide, Writing Reinvented. Inside you’ll find:
- Two strategies for writing a thesis statement
- Two strategies to help your students defeat writer’s block
- An engaging way to teach grammar…without actually teaching grammar
- “Flash Fiction”: An assignment that challenges students to write a story in six words
You can download it by clicking on the icon below!