It’s easy to think of plagiarism as something confined to classrooms. We picture students furtively copying reference books and passing off the words as their own. But plagiarism comes in many forms. And these days, students and writers can easily lift text from websites and social media. Sometimes without realizing they’re doing it. Distilled to its most basic form, plagiarism is using someone else’s work without giving credit. This can include words as well as ideas.
There’s the obvious plagiarism mentioned above: a person copy-and-pastes someone else’s writing. They fail to acknowledge or quote the source material. However, some plagiarists are a little sneakier. They’ll steal phrases or sentences and piece them together into something “new.” Only, it’s not actually new - it’s already someone’s writing. And even if this plagiarist cites the source material, it doesn’t count as original work. It’s merely reworking a previously published piece and adding nothing new.
Now, some plagiarism happens on accident. A writer may have heard something before and worked it into a piece without remembering its origin. This is where a plagiarism checker comes in, as it can point out when your words or thoughts originated elsewhere.
The Best Free Plagiarism Checkers
There are plenty of online companies that offer plagiarism checkers. Every plagiarism checker runs a little differently, but they all operate on the same idea: breaking your text into small bits and scouring their databases for similarities. Some software requires a fee to do this, and other programs operate for free. But do the free ones work? To save you some legwork, we put four of the best websites to check for plagiarism to the test. We took a random 500-word piece of text from a popular website and ran it through each of these plagiarism checkers to see how they handle it.
This free plagiarism checker allows users to copy-and-paste or upload files. You can also check your content by entering a URL or by adding a document from Dropbox. Duplichecker produces quick results, but unfortunately doesn’t allow users to download their plagiarism report. Also, every search is limited to 1,000 words, which could be bothersome if you’re checking long-form content. In our test, Duplichecker recognized 75% of our test piece as plagiarized.
Small SEO Tools
This plagiarism checker is extremely versatile but does cap scans at 1,000 words, just like Duplichecker. As a bonus, Small SEO Tools checks your spelling while also combing for plagiarism. However, the interface a lot of ads and looks pretty confusing. The results don’t offer sources, so you’ll have to find them yourself. Small SEO Tools also recognized 75% of our sample text as plagiarized.
This plagiarism checker scans texts at three different levels. The Quick Scan is the free version, and lets users copy and paste up to 1,000 words. Note that you’ll have to pay for Plagium’s services if you want to scan your text regularly. The packages they offer are based on the amount of content you want to check. Plagium did a bit better in our test, recognizing 95% of the text as plagiarized and 5% as unique.
After analyzing what’s available, we’ve decided to create our own free plagiarism checker. TextRoyal plagiarism checker provides a user-friendly interface that allows for copy-and-pasting up to 1,000 words. There are no distracting elements, no ads, no hidden premium features. It scans sentence by sentence and provides links to the source material if and when plagiarism gets detected. As expected, the test piece was recognized as 100% plagiarized, along with a link to the source.
How to Avoid Plagiarism
It’s essential to avoid plagiarism, and a good plagiarism checker is vital to use before submitting a piece for publication or a grade. But what if your checkers regularly find instances of plagiarism in your writing? Don’t worry. It’s easy to avoid plagiarism in the first place.
When writing, use several sources. It’s hard to write new material if you’ve only referenced one or two other pieces. Also, cite your sources. Be sure to give credit when using someone else’s words or thoughts. As long as you bring your own ideas to your writing and use your voice, you’ll be sure to avoid plagiarism altogether.