Plagiarism is Bad, Catching It is Good

Last week, John did a review of AndrewTalk, discovering that Andrew “borrowed” a whole smattering of posts directly from John Chow dot Com. While plagiarism in the blogosphere is generally frowned upon (and potentially illegal), it’s not nearly as bad as getting caught handing in a plagiarized university term paper.

A service like iPlagiarismCheck.com could be very useful for both students and instructors alike. With the school year just around the corner, this ReviewMe review could not be more timely.

Why Bother Checking?

Cheating is bad. We all know that. Getting caught cheating is even worse. This doesn’t refer only to “paper mills” on the Internet where you can buy ready-made essays. According to this instant plagiarism checking service, most universities “do not tolerate plagiarism over 5% of the total document text.” What this means is that even if you “borrow” just one paragraph from your buddy, that could be enough to get you booted out of school. Yes, getting kicked out is pretty much automatic and you can more or less kiss your academic career goodbye.

“But I’ll just go to another school,” some people might say. When you apply for another university, they’ll ask if you’ve attended any other schools and why you left them. If they see that you got booted out for plagiarism, your application goes straight into the “no” pile. If you lie on your app, it’ll come back to bite you in the you-know-what, potentially voiding your degree when you’re just on the cusp of graduating. It’s not worth it.

iplagiarism check - header - three ways to navigate

Check, Re-Check, and Check Again

OK, now that the preaching is out of the way, let’s get down to what this website actually does. iPlagiarismCheck has a special kind of online software that runs a provided paper through a series of databases. They cross-check the essay not only through Internet resources (don’t cut and paste from Wikipedia!), but also print sources. They have a propriety index of paper mills, and they check against ProQuest and FindArticles. It’s all pretty thorough.

Three Ways to Navigate

The layout of the iPlagiarismCheck.com is very confusing. What’s weird is that there are three navigation toolbars spaced out over the main page and they’re all exactly the same. They should definitely eliminate either the navigation bar in the header or the one in the center, because the current layout just leads to unnecessary clutter and confusion.

The first page that people see when they arrive at iPlagiarismCheck is inundated with tons of text, but I think the bigger issue is that there’s no sense of direction or guidance as to where your eyes should go. What’s more, the “special price” offer is nowhere near being above the fold. In fact, it’s all the way at the bottom, just above the footer. I think that if you’re trying to attract attention to yourself, it’s best to put offers like these closer to the top where more casual visitors will be able to see it.

iplagiarism check - $5 starter deal

Regardless of whether the plagiarism checking service is effective or not, if someone can’t find their way around your website or if they are frustrated with sifting through the strange layout, they’re not going to order from you.

How Much Does it Cost?

There are currently four packages available. The aforementioned “special deal” is five bucks for a single document. Step up to the “Student” package for $20 and you get 5 document submissions. The $35 “Advance” package gives you unlimited submissions for one month, whereas the $65 “Super-Saver” package gets unlimited submissions for one year.

Each submission results in a sample report like this:

iplagiarism check - sample report

This screenshot definitely looks cluttered, but it shows you just how much information you get. You see what snippets of text are potentially plagiarized and from what source they came.

Anti-Plagiarism For Dummies

If you’re an honest student and you’re careful with citing your sources, you really should have no need for a service like this. I can totally see the potential for academic institutions, however, and at just $65 for unlimited annual access (submissions through the Super-Saver package are also marked as urgent), iPlagiarismCheck sounds like an excellent value. They just need to clean up their website. A lot.


70 thoughts on “Plagiarism is Bad, Catching It is Good”

  1. Tim Spangler says:

    Don’t think you’re safe if you’re a CS major either. I’m sure all you CSers out there have heard of MOSS, which uses proprietary algorithms to compare the similarity of two pieces of code.

    Plagiarism just doesn’t pay! And it looks like iPlagiarismCheck is running the review blogosphere – weren’t they just on Tyler Cruz last week?

    1. Agreed! I have seen tons of plagiarism in all aspects of school, and blogging.

    2. Never knew of that one, but people could always changed the code around. Rename variables, and structure differently.

  2. Shaun Carter says:

    This seems like a good resource for educators. I don’t really understand why anyone would plagiarize a paper intentionally. Just pure lazyness.

    1. vangardx says:

      i agreed with you shaun, “just pure lazyness” and for last-minute assignment finisher

    2. Pure laziness, lack of creativity to use in words…who knows, but mainly and most probably laziness.

      Seems like CS majors will have to leave their salary on iPlagarismCheck to catch students 😯

    3. Eh, I’m pretty much as lazy as it gets and would always write my papers the night before they were due (or the day of) but it just seemed easier to me to write it than trying to find and buy a paper and then check it to make sure I wouldn’t be caught easily. By the time you do all that, you could have written the paper. Plus there’s the worry about getting caught etc. It’s just not worth it.

      In reality, I think it’s my laziness that kept me from ever trying it lol.

    4. Why would professors use this, if they have to pay, it’s coming from their paychecks. Unless the university buys a copy.

      1. KingJacob says:

        Most Universities have some type of software like this available to teachers for free.

  3. Steven says:

    Plagerism sucks. Sounds like a good idea but how many people will really submit plagerized articles or info to that site… I can’t imagine many.

  4. HMTKSteve says:

    Some of these plagiarism sites are on shaky ground. By what right do they take a persons work and enter it into their database for profit?

    If I write a paper it belongs to me and is copyright to me as soon as my pen hits the paper, that is a fact of US copyright law. Educational establishments have some wiggle room under copyright law but a business does not.

    1. Mubin says:

      Actually once you hand it into university your pretty much screwed, they own it and they can do what they want with it.

      The business does not just take peoples work randomly, they have to submit it to their database, its not like its being stolen, you actually have to pay to have your work scrutinzed…

      But this service is prettmy much useless here in the UK, most educational establishments already have a free service like this already running, thats why you know when your lecturere asks for a electronic copy of your work you are pretty much screwed.

      1. Punny Money says:

        Handing in an assignment does not transfer your copyrights to your instructor. I agree with HMTKSteve–sites like this violate our copyrights by profiting off our work. I highly recommend students post a copyright notice in their assignments before handing them in explicitly stating that submitting the assignment to a service like this is not authorized.

    2. I would imagine the same type of rights that Google takes your site and enters it into their database.

      1. HMTKSteve says:

        Google is one of those entities that you have to play ball with. If they do not index you then they do not send traffic your way.

        1. Sure but that doesn’t mean they are on any less shaky ground legally.

    3. KingJacob says:

      There was actually a court case on the same issue, some girl was suing one of these companies and I dont remember why she was suing but I think it was because she posted her writing online after she wrote it for school and she got caught for plagarising her own paper or something like that.

      1. Wow, that’s gotta suck! I would hate to have to prove myself if I really did write something…

  5. Click Input says:

    If only we had Wikipedia and the internet was more common when I was in school. Easy I tell ya.

    1. Geedos says:

      I remember those days – back when you had to take a trip down to the library to look things up!

      The kids have got it easy these days – all this information at their fingertips.

      1. Steven says:

        LOL the worst was the catalog cards and trying to look up where the books were.

        1. Mubin says:

          Ahh, those were the days. Even though I still consider myself a kid. Im only 23, but I do remember actually handing in report that were written by hand. Anyone else have those teachers that made you first write it on yellow paper and than you could have the white paper? Man, things were tough for us.

          I remember one day my friend actually printed out the cover sheet on a MAC, it was the coolest thing I had ever seen in my life. I was extremely jealous but told him it looked stupid.

        2. dcr says:

          Our local library switched to a computer system back in the 80’s. It was much easier to find books using the card catalog!

          Then, in the late 80’s or early 90’s, they ditched the card catalog. Unfortunately, they didn’t upgrade the computer system at all.

          It was easier to run up and down the aisles to find books than it was to use the computer system.

          Computerization isn’t always better, especially if it is poorly designed and/or implemented.

      2. Coincidence, just last night on the trip i had i was speaking with a friend about internet and stuff…and she was like “I will never let my kid sit in front of the computer, he will become really lazy and not use the books at all”. My first thought was…what? he could save loads of time and find what he is looking after within a minute, but on the next thought…she was right, doing research on the net for studies it does make you lazy.

    2. Please tell me you’re joking about using the Wikipedia for anything that has to do with school. 😐

      1. Tim Spangler says:

        Well, Wikipedia is more accurate than Britannica and I’m sure plenty of people have used that as a research source.

        1. Lol you’re citing Wikipedia to prove that Wikipedia is more accurate?

          You can say what you want but a website that any idiot can edit should never be cited as a source in a scholarly paper and in fact none of my profs would have accepted it for any of my classes.

      2. KingJacob says:

        If you have ever dealt with the people who update and write on wikipedia you wouldnt have that sad face, These are the type of people who would shoot you for saying people in christopher columbus’s time thought the earth was flat.

        Also most of the things in wikipedia are cited so you can find the original source of information.

        1. That’s true, I guess it can be used to find original source info but I’d never ever use it as a source itself.

  6. john says:

    There’s nothing wrong with plagiarism. Do what you have to do to get by.

    1. Geedos says:

      Good to know you’re taking the high moral stance on this issue!

  7. Geedos says:

    I can’t decide whether this is a tool more suited to students or to institutions?

    After all if you’ve plagiarised a piece of work then aren’t you putting yourself in danger of being caught and expelled? If your work passes this checker then who’s to say it won’t fail a different system an academic institution uses? Safer simply not to do it in the first place.

    However, if you’re an academic institution then this could be used as a great tool to catch potential plagiarisers. The problem is that checkers like these have been around for a while at an academic level so I’m not sure how much market there is left for a tool like this?

    1. Mubin says:

      Yea, this is actually a tool for copying, not against it. Academic instituitions already have this, and it is much more powerful, they can acctually cross reference papers that were submitted in other universities as well.

      But if someone wanted to copy something, your best bet would be to pop it into this sucker, find all the word you could possible use a thesauras on, and your in the clear! 😈

      1. Tony says:

        Great idea with the thesaurus :wink:. I doubt their cross-referencing system is as crazy as eBay’s banning system. :mrgreen:

  8. sandossu says:

    Plagiarism is definitely bad, but we can’t do much about it, especially with those RSS automated blogs and all these stuff.

    1. Mubin says:

      Wait a Second! Isn’t this one of those automated BLOGS?

  9. Marco says:

    This is similar to another service, one that certain departments in McGill University have been using for several years now, Turnitin.com.

    There was a whole debate in the university newspapers about students refusing to submit their essays through the service, because they claimed their intellectual rights were being violated.

    Some of those that complained were probably scared of getting caught plagiarizing, but if you think about it, they do have a point: the service is effectively creating a database from every essay submitted. So in other words students are making its content, and they are not getting a cent in return… A valid point.

    1. HMTKSteve says:

      I am very much against turnitin as well.

      I can understand a university wanting to check for plagiarism on papers turned in but by what right is a third party allowed to profit off of the work of authors?

      If plagiarism is found to occur is the owner of the plagiarised work contacted? It is possible that the original writer sold all of the rights to the work to the person who turned it in?

      What if I write a killer term paper while in high school and then someone wants to buy it from me four years later to use at a different school? why should they be accused of plagiarism if I have sold them 100% ownership of the document? It is now 100% theirs to do with as they please.

      Plagiarism is copying someone elses work and turning it is as your own. If I sell you the rights to the work it is now 100% your work. As such turning it in is not plagiarism because it is now yours!

    2. But they are getting an education, which is the whole point? You’re supposed to be there to learn and to set you up for a career in later life, not to flog what you’ve learnt.

    3. I mentioned this in one of the comments above but have any of you ever heard of Google? They don’t have much content of their own but they scrape with the best of them and make billions off it… 😕

      1. Google help to promote your content, if you don’t want to appear in their search results or have them index your content then block them, it’s not hard? If you want the benefits then you play by their rules.

        You go to University to get a degree, if part of that includes submitting your essays/work for assessment then tough. If you don’t like it then don’t go to uni. As an employer the last thing I want to to is employ grads who don’t know shit about shit but have copied their way to a degree/diploma.

  10. ray says:

    alot of times, your profs could tell you plagiarised by the change in knowledge base. say paragraph1 = you “i am bsing just to take up space so i can be at 10.5 pgs then followed by paragraph 2 = hi my name is jim wales and i am an expert on the subject. contrast will get you caught. stick to paragraph 1 and get a d better then mixing and getting an f. or just use iplagarismcheck

  11. There is no two ways of putting it: plagiarism is dishonest and a huge mistake. Put the time into doing your own work, and in the end you will be glad that you did!

    1. HMTKSteve says:

      You are looking at this in a very narrow-minded way.

      If the assignment is to turn a paper in on X why is it so wrong to get someone else to write it for you? Whether you write it or not you are learning a skill.

      Write it: learn how to write.
      Get someone else to write it: learn how to manage people and get them to work for you.

      Which role do you want when you get out of school? The role of the employee or of the employer?

      I have far more respect for someone who buys a paper and turns it in than one who copies a term paper without paying for it. Do you see the difference?

      1. Hiring someone to write your paper is not plagarism… it would be, how in the hell to define it, copywriter? :mrgreen:

        Plagarism is really dishonest way to achieve your goal on the sweat and hard work of someone else.

        1. HMTKSteve says:

          It would be defined as plagiarism if the person you hired sold that same paper to someone else years ago and it was indexed by this service.

          That is the problem with these services. They restrict your ability to monetize your written work. some would say, “that’s where footnotes come in” but if you pay money to the writer and secure the rights you own it and no longer require a footnote.

        2. SEO, I’ve been wanting to ask you… you do realize using the term SEO Optimization is redundant right?

      2. dcr says:

        If the assignment is to turn a paper in on X why is it so wrong to get someone else to write it for you? Whether you write it or not you are learning a skill.

        But, you (or your parents) pay for college to learn the former skill, not the latter.

        If you want to learn how to manage people, get a job at McDonald’s or something. Work your way up to a management position, and you’ll learn how to manage people and GET PAID FOR IT rather than the other way around.

        If you’re going to spend money on college, only to hire other people to do the work for you, why go?

      3. Thats an odd argument. I’d say a good employer can only be someone who is a good employee. If you want to get others to do some work, you’d be better off knowing how it is supposed to be done. Besides, its really odd you’d justify copying or buying off your assignments on this point.

        1. Enkay Blog says:

          I agree with you guys, I think that copying someone’s elses work only shows your skill in plagiarizing and nothing else.

          1. HMTKSteve says:

            This site makes no difference between copied and purchased work. If I am savy enough to get others to do my work for me than I am good management material and should not be penalized.

  12. Alan says:

    I could see some schools using it to check, however I don’t think the service would make much of a profit. Unless they have some way of stopping a whole college from getting by on one account, they may end up with only 50-60 full year accounts at a time.

    1. dcr says:

      There would also be potential for marketing to people who hire freelance writers to do articles for them. It’d be nice to have another source to check articles against to help ensure you’re getting orginal work before you pay for it.

  13. This review was either incredible timing or they’ve got a internet marketer that really pays attention to what’s going on in the blogosphere. Either way pretty impressive and a perfect tie in for Michael to introduce it.

  14. I fully agree. Thanks for a good review of this online resource. For those of us who worked our butts off doing the academic work we have done, it should have existed long ago, cause some people sure got laughingly high degrees when you consider how little they actually KNEW in class.

    One girl took out her calculator to calculate 25% of a 100. She didn’t know what percentages were, and was truly a disgrace. How she ever got her degree surprises me. 🙂

    Anyway. Thanks for a good article. As always, your blog is well worth reading. 🙂

    1. dcr says:

      Combine two people that are bad at math, and you can have some entertainment. Or, just play dumb yourself. Go to a store or fast food, and when the total is, for example, $4.97, give them five dollars and three pennies.

  15. Colin Dean says:

    It would be neat if students were taught to license their papers using GFDL or, better yet, Creative Commons. They simply choose the license that says that no one can profit from the paper without explicit consent in writing from the author and services like TurnItIn.com and iPlagiarismCheck.com have no rights to use the paper its their checks.

    1. HMTKSteve says:

      Or you could turn your paper in using a locked down PDF format or just save it as an image.

      1. dcr says:

        Save it as an image then put it in a secure PDF and you’ll have the best of both worlds. 🙂

  16. Clutch says:

    SEO is bullshit.

    Does make a fig of difference.

  17. John Bennett says:

    When I was in college, our TA’s would write programs that would compare our programs/coding to each others to make sure we didn’t “work together”.

    1. dcr says:

      Work together? People would try to sabotage each other in some of my classes.

  18. Hi,

    First off, thanks for the review, and yes, we will be “cleaning” up our interface for easy navigation.

    Now, the pressing issue highlighted by the comments, please visit http://support.iplagiarismcheck.com OR view our “Privacy Policy” located on the SIGNUP page, we explicitly state that NO, repeat NO submitted paper to our service is stored in OUR databases. We store the paper temporarily, check it for plagiarism, and then after the report has been generated the paper is removed from the database.

    We have links to academic databases and paper-mill databases against which papers are checked, as someone above mentioned they have a little wiggle-room in this regard, we however do not, hence no papers are retained by us on a permanent or even long-term basis.

    I hope this clarifies this issue.

    Thanks!

  19. Enkay Blog says:

    The site is okay, I think turnitin.com is doing better in that sense.

  20. KingJacob says:

    I could never trust some one elses writing to get me an A, so I never really understood plagiarising papers or cheating for that matter especially in college. If you arent here to learn drop out and get a job.

    1. Click Input says:

      Hell no… me neither! Do the important stuff yourself!

  21. Eric says:

    Too bad they don’t have one for checking logos/graphics. Elizabeth Arden & Britney Spears could have used it to avoid this…

    Britney Spears/EA rip off mondonation and Charities

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