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Anti-Plagiarism Software Pros and Cons

Effectiveness of Anti-Plagiarism Software



Search Methods






- Searches Turnitin database, including all submissions from all sources
- Searches web and bibliographic databases
- Searches the Internet

- Targets high schools
- Targets colleges
- simple process (complete a short form and pasting text only document) onto the web page
- automated searching tool
- more reliable (Humes, Stiffler, & Malsed, 2003)
-  allows for more than one resubmission
- facility for students to view/ not view their reports (Grossman, Cooper, Cameron, & Gidlow)
- highest rate of detection amongst subscription detection tools
- papers are archived for future checking (internet resources or in-house database)
- reports provided within 24-48 hours (Sutherland-Smith & Carr)
- can pickup when students attempt to mislead instructors by changing words, adding sentences, or reorganizing their papers (Paynter & Mills, 2003)
- reliability high in terms of mass distribution

- Ongoing fee for use of tool

- it focuses students’ attention on achieving a figure rather than developing academic integrity (Grossman et al.)

- does not distinguish between correctly cited material and material that is plagiarized

- character limit of 150,000 and a file size limit of 0.5 megabytes (Paynter & Mills, 2003)

- fails to check whether figures or table used within an assignment are legitimate or plagiarized

- does not trace material copied from discussion boards unless uploads separately

- single point remote method of operation; low in terms of reliability (Bull, Collins, Coughlin, & Sharpe, 2001)
- Intellectual Property issues with storing student work

- No integration with WebCT Campus Edition 4 – only with Campus Edition 6 and Blackboard

- All services provided through the supplier (Sutherland-Smith & Carr)

- faculty preference

- works via a technique called Document Source Analysis (DSA) that consist of three steps: Digital Fingerprint Creation, Database Cross-referencing and Web-Crawler Deployment, and Originality Report Generation (Paynter & Mills, 2003)


- Four tier pricing ranging from subscription for individual instructors which provide 100 originality reports for $100 to large institutions receiving unlimited number of originality reports for $4000 (Groark, Oblinger, & Choa, 2001)


EVE2 (Essay Verification Engine)

- Searches the Internet


- Downloadable software

- Processes in less than an hour

- Targets mostly high schools

- powerful and detailed search engine

- installed on individual workstations

- available through individual or site licenses

- detects material copied from the Internet

- reliable due to its non-reliance on single off-site web databases

- downloads onto user’s machine

- must convert papers to txt. format

- quality of the user interface, reports are not easy to read

- poor report structure (Humes et al., 2003)

- not easily installed on servers

- inability to search subscription websites

- inability to trace collusion between students

- the software must be used by the lecturer who owns the license; it cannot be used by another lecturer from another class to check their own students’ assignments

- each user must purchase an individual license (Groark & Oblinger, 2001)

- it does not  compile material into a database and so cannot directly compare texts

- does not trace essays to essay banks or paper mills

- does not trace documents that are not in html format

- it does not compare documents to one another (Bulls et al, 2001)

- does not use a proprietary database

- will not trace materials copied from discussion boards

- cannot be easily installed for multiple users via a network server

- designed to detect material cut and pasted from the Internet

- downloads are free for 15 days; individual license cost $19.99 (Bulls et al, 2001)



- Searches a proprietary database (student papers, papers posted online, material from academic web sites and documents indexed by major search engines)

- Searches the Internet

- Target high schools

- Targets colleges

- alert in word-for-word cases (Groark & Oblinger, 2001)

- digital info tracking

- to combat piracy of intellectual property

- difficulty detecting problems in paragraphs with slight rewriting (Groark & Oblinger, 2001)


- Ongoing fee for use of tool (cost through the vendor)



- Searches a proprietary database (comprised of searches through the internet and a database of student papers)

- Targets high schools

- Targets colleges

- free service (Groark & Oblinger, 2001)

- enforcement technique

- test a small sample of text (up to 1,000 characters of text)

- not effective deterrent of plagiarism (Groark & Oblinger, 2001)

- to check the originality of suspicious text once it has been submitted

- free service (Groark & Oblinger, 2001)


- Detects word-for-word plagiarism

- quick and inexpensive (McCullough & Holmberg, 2005)

- time consuming

- does not always produce the source of plagiarism

- produces dozens of matches

- the nature of web resources presents a problem (McCullough & Holmberg, 2005)


- free service


- Extensive database on over 90,000 papers, cliff notes, essays, and papers from known paper mills


- reports are generated in 12-hrs

- Separate document archive for every institutional customer, overcoming copyright and Intellectual Property issues
- Can connect to an institution's digital libraries and archives
- Less expensive that Turnitin
- integration with Blackboard and WebCT (Humes et al, 2003)

- service is only available through its website

- papers must be submitted in one batch (Humes et al, 2003)

- All services provided through the supplier

- Plagiarism detection service - 3 step process (a) internet; (b) published works in electronic document databases; (c) customers’ own databases of papers

- free service


- Papers are tracked against online paper mills and a database of about 250,000 academic papers (Grossman et al)

- the ability to be integrated into online course delivery systems, customization to institutional websites, and abilities for  administrators to monitor use


- conflict of interest since the owners also own a number of paper mills



- three tier pricing structure (individual license - $150 for 200 manuscripts, departmental license - $800 for unlimited manuscripts, and institutional license - $1400 for unlimited manuscripts)

Glatt Plagiarism Screening Program (GPSP) & Glatt Plagiarism Self-Detection (GPSD) Program hosted through Plagiarism.com

- Evaluates students’ knowledge of their own writing by producing test whereby every 5th word of a student’s paper is eliminated or replaced with blanks which the student has to replace


- accuracy and speed in replacing the blanks is evaluated against a proprietary of database and a probability score returned immediately

- useful where the original source cannot be located through other sources such as the internet search engines and other plagiarism detection services

 (Bulls et al, 2001)

- not being able to identify the source of the suspect text and the requirement for students to sit a test
- On-site program, not a service
- Runs only under Windows



- Designed to teach students about plagiarism
- Students can use to check work for plagiarism before submitting
- Calculates Plagiarism Probability Score based on factors including number of correct responses and response time


-  (GPSP) $465 to purchase software , with an additional financial commitment to Plagiarism Screening Service to provide the scoring for submitted tests
- (GPSD) free if used online, or a Windows 95/98/NT version can be purchased for $65


CopyCatch Gold

- Detects collusion between students by checking similarities between words and phrases within work submitted by one group of students


- allows the lecturer to set due dates for assignments, after which no papers can be submitted

- assists students in their writing development by allowing them to see where they are repeating text from other sources and from their own previous assignments

- detection, clarity, value, user-friendliness, speed, and reliability

- compare textual data across multiple submissions of assignments

- checks word frequencies and produces a number count of types as against the tokens

- reports on the overlap of similarity between one assignment and another

- standalone products that does not require web access; reliable

- mass distributed easily, instant results

- content searches uploaded word documents

- can be installed on network for multiple users

- fast, quick results (Bulls et al, 2001)

- inability to detect material downloaded from the web

- does not detect plagiarism from the Internet

- product’s vendor is a sole trader; does not have stability

- reliant on local content only

- low image and less professional look of vendor

- poor technical support
- Only reports collusion between students; doesn’t report plagiarism from external sources
- On-site program, not a service (Grossman et al)



- results, which are password controlled, are available after this due date


- cost approximately $562 for the software

WordCheck Keyword

- Identifies keyword use, matches documents based on word use and frequency patterns


- more suitable for linguistical analysis of similar texts or for comparison of two suspected similar texts (Culwin & Lancaster, 2001)

- detects collusion between students by matching keyword profiles between a submitted document and documents held in an internal archive

-standalone product, reliable

- easy to mass distribute, quick

- fast, fairly quick results (Bulls et al, 2001)

- time consuming manual checking of each document

- inability of the program to detect plagiarism from internet sources

- does not allow profile matching at phrase level

- cannot be installed on network for multiple users

- poor technical support


- cost for Profiler Basic Version is $93
- cost for Pro version is $277

- profile capacity is able to be added from $305 for 2000 profiles to $2037 for 10000 profiles (Devlin, 2002).



- All assignments are owned and maintained by the institution, overcoming copyright and Intellectual Property issues

- Plagiarism Detection - comparison with content on the internet
- Assignment Management - tracking and marking
- Assignment Archive - tracks intra institution plagiarism/ collusion (Bulls et al., 2001)

- Plagiarism detection and Assignment Management are Services provided through the supplier
- Integrated with WebCT but not with Blackboard
- Assignment Archive is a server based product installed on customer campus


- Similar cost to Turnitin


- searches only the Internet

- intended for "publishers, corporations, law firms, and others" to check sources, prevent plagiarism, and protect their own intellectual property

- does not search previously submitted content



Safe assignment

- works with papers students turn in electronically

- employs a proprietary technology to identify unoriginal content, including paraphrased or otherwise altered text

- uses a highly advanced algorithm to compare submitted manuscripts against the Internet Archive of over 8 billion documents, scholastic and news databases with over 9 million articles and an intra-institutional archive of previously submitted papers

- generates convenient and easy-to-read reports, where all unoriginal material is highlighted and linked to its online or database sources

- any paper turned in by students via the MyDropBox Course Management Toolset, Blackboard or WebCT can be set to be scanned

reports are generated in as little as 1-2 minutes

- can be configured by instructors to let students submit drafts of their papers and view their own SafeAssignment reports



- depends on a number of factors, including the size and type of your institution, school or consortium, and selection of MyDropBox services you are seeking a license for




Bull, J., Collins, C., Coughlin, E., and Sharpe, D. (2001). Technical Review of Plagiarism Detection Software Report. Retrieved December 21,
            2005, from http://www.jisc.ac.uk/uploaded_documents/luton.pdf


Culwin, F. & Lancaster, T. (2001). Plagiarism, prevention, detection, and deterrence. London: South Bank University.

Retrieved March 21, 2007, from http://www/ics.ltsn.ac.uk/resources/Culwin-Lancaster.htm.


Groark, M. & Oblinger, D. (2001). Academic Plagiarism in the Networked Environment. Center  for Applied Research Bulletin, 1, (1),



Humes, C., Stiffler, J., & Malsed, M. (2003). Examining Anti-Plagiarism Software: Choosing the right tool.

McCullough, M. & Holmberg, M. (2005). Using the Google search engine to detect word-for-word plagiarism in master's theses: a
            preliminary study. College Student Journal.

Grossman, P., Cooper, C., Cameron, C. & Gidlow, R. Plagiarism detection software: A view from the students’ seats. Lincoln
            University Canterbury, New Zealand.

Paynter, J. & Mills, C.J. (2003). Academic plagiarism: An analysis of current technological issues.

Sutherland-Smith, W. & Carr, D. Turnitin.com: Teachers’ perspectives on Anti-plagiarism software in raising issues of educational integrity.
            Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice.








Least Common Anti-Plagiarism Software


Search Methods






- automatic assessment of student work (mainly programming) and the administration of the resulting marks, solutions and course material

- instant detailed feedback on their submitted coursework while enabling the staff to monitor the students, to automark their work, and to generate reports about student plagiarism possibilities

- written completely in pure Java, which makes it portable through a wide range of platforms

- it is more flexible uses a more user-friendly interface and provides more detailed student feedback.



Basic system + 1 course - $3000
Diagrammatic subsystem + 1 course - $3000
Extra courses (each) - $493
Annual system update with support renewal - $493
Annual course update - $493



- Used with success to detect and report plagiarism from documents on the web, as well as student-student copying, in a variety of subjects

- converts documents in ps, pdf, html or doc formats (and several others) to plain text, using a variety of tools

- each paragraph of each student document is then used as a query against this database. If there are no matches, a web search is launched, using sentence fragments

- index is periodically rebuilt to include these new documents

- subject-specific database can be reused in future years, or for related subjects.



For use only at Monash University


- typically used to detect and thus discourage the unallowed copying of student exercise programs in programming education

- detect stolen software parts among large amounts of source text or modules that have been duplicated

- finds similarities among multiple sets of source code files

- aware of programming language syntax and program structure and is robust against many kinds of attempts to disguise similarities between plagiarized files

- powerful graphical interface


- supports Java, C#, C, C++, Scheme, and natural language text

- free, easy  installation-free access to the software but must open an account

Originality Checker (OrCheck)

- investigate a text file by performing an assisted Google search and finding similar documents on the Web

- use both graphical and textual representations.



-register with Google and obtain a key

- the key will allow you to have up to 1000 Google hits per day

- a Google key can be obtained when you create a google account at the Google.api website

- may need to upgrade your JVM run time plug in

Visualisation and Analysis of Similarity Tool (VAST)

- presents a visual representation of the similarity between two documents

- user can quickly select the areas of interest and view the associated sections of the documents for verification



- No installation is required, but your browser should be Java enabled and various Java permissions may have to be set

Plotted Ring of Analyzed Information for Similarity Exploration (PRAISE)

- visual representation of the similarity between a whole corpus of student submissions

- points representing student submissions are plotted on the circumference of a circle

- those submissions that contain substantial similarity have their points joined



- No installation is required, but your browser should be Java enabled (almost all are) and various Java permissions may have to be set


- uses authorship attribution techniques to overlapping fragments of a document on a graph

- graphical stylistic metrics tool

- presents rolling average graphs of various metrics (reading age, sentence length, voice, punctuation)



- No installation is required, but your browser should be Java enabled (almost all are) and various Java permissions may have to be set


- Student submits assignment to email address provided by Urkund
- System compares assignment with the content of the database, encyclopaedic articles, articles from journals and newspapers, books and the content of carefully selected sources on Internet. A report is generated which states where the submitted work was found, and which sources are involved.

- The assignment and a report, are forwarded to the teacher's e-mail address and they decide whether the work is plagiarized

- Semi manual system



- not available (Scandinavian product)


- program which finds similarities between textual documents

- uses digital signatures to find similar pieces of text. (a number which is formed by turning several words in the input into a series of bits and joining those bits into a number)


- works on text files such as essays, computer source code files, and other assignments in digital form

- work with Tar files, but not compressed archives such as Gzipped or Zipped files

To use it, you can either download:
- sherlock.c - source code for the Sherlock program, in Unix text file format
- makefile - a Unix makefile


- crawls through web sites reachable from the top fifty Computer Science departments or any other specified start site downloading research papers

- to search for instances of self-plagiarism by Computer Science academic

- compares a paper under review to a record of the author's previously published articles extracted from their web site and online article repositories



- Download the SPlaT tool splatapp.zip
- Download the SPlaT Java source code splat.zip

You will need the following to run SPlaT:
- Java 1.4.2 or higher (for proper web spider operation)
- 3rd party converter from pdf and ps (or whatever file format you want to compare) to raw text


- provided as an Internet service
- detects plagiarism in programming classes

- detect plagiarism in computer automatic system for determining the similarity of C, C++, Java, Pascal, Ada, ML, Lisp, or Scheme programs.
- highlights individual passages in programs that appear the same, making it easy to quickly compare the files
- can automatically eliminate matches to code that one expects to be shared (e.g., libraries or instructor-supplied code), thereby eliminating false positives that arise from legitimate sharing of code
- fast and easy to use



- strictly for non-commercial use and free