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.