How do Colleges Check for Plagiarism in Essays?

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Updated: Feb 11, 2022
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Plagiarism takes various forms. A student may cheat doing something as extreme as purchasing a paper, hiring someone to write a paper or turning in a paper freely provided by a friend. Many students unknowingly commit Plagiarism by failing to properly cite their sources crediting the authors. Still others cite, but plagiarize by coping much too much and writing far, far too little of their own synthesized thoughts and ideas. Students must be careful about copying too much. If a paper is mostly other writers’ material, that can be considered Plagiarism, even if the student credits their sources.

Plagiarism is theft of ideas, passing them off as your own. New York University’s academic integrity code defines it as “presenting others’ work without adequate acknowledgement of its source, as though it were one’s own” (New York University) Plagiarism can take the form of stealing passages directly from an article, or can even include art, music, and any form of data or information. This includes unintentional or intentional lack of sources and citations on borrowed material.

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College students face a variety of pressures and have a variety of motives that lead to intentional plagiarism and unknowing or unintentional acts of plagiarism. Plagiarism, on the surface looks very attractive to students because of how easy and quick it can get an essay or an assignment done. Many times, students will knowingly plagiarize to speed up their homework process if they are either lazy or swamped with work. Students may also not realize that they are plagiarizing if they do not receive proper instructions and lessons on what plagiarizing is and what not to do.

How do professors know when students plagiarize? One big give away is when poor or mediocre writing gives way to extremely sophisticated writing. It is clear that the same person did not author both. Another obvious clue to an instructor that a paper has been plagiarized through extensive copy and pasting is randomly formatted text perhaps still including blue hyperlinks and/or random text unrelated to the paper topic. When a professor becomes suspicious of a paper, the professor can use various tools and techniques to investigate. Many teachers will be able to use software that detects blatant paraphrasing, unsourced borrowed content, and copy/paste passages. These tools are able to track if and where the information has been taken. It is able to detect the amount and severity of the robbery by using mathematical measurements in the compared documents similarity. These new technological methods have been coming in handy for teachers to use to check a student or an associate’s work (Lukashenko 2). Students have tools for checking their own paper for plagiarism violations too. Primarily through the same or similar computer based programs that run their work through a test. They would be able to check their citations and their quotes before handing in their final work to their professor or teacher.

Most colleges and universities have Academic Honesty policies that address plagiarism. At Sierra College, consequences of plagiarism are referenced in the board policy index, under Student Services, BP 5515. They include re-assigning assignments to undo the dishonest behavior, receiving a failing grade on said assignment, and even having contact with a disciplinary officer which may lead to even more intense punishments (Sierra College).

In order to avoid plagiarism a student should always be aware of how they should cite their sources, clearly and correctly. Incorrect citations is a common form of accidental plagiarism. After acknowledging their sources, a student should use a plagiarism detector to see if the missed anything, to be safe. Minor things that students can be responsible for is their time management. When students are rushing to meet deadlines, copying another author’s work gets increasingly tempting. These are strategies to avoid severe consequences.

There are several popular writing styles standards including MLA, APA, Chicago/Turabian, CE, and Harvard. In order to avoid Plagiarism, each style standard has specific citation requirements that must be carefully implemented. The particular style used for a paper depends on the field of study, and the professor assigning the paper will specify the style standard required. In my field, Business and Communications, the MLA style is generally used. In this style, citations must be referenced after using an outside source, and clearly and correctly cited in the works cited page, with an addition of a bibliography.

Word 2016 has built in tools for making proper citations easier than ever. Word has programmed automatic citations that you can save and reuse when needed. Adding a source is easier than ever and very time efficient when doing an essay. Word also provides an index option, making it easier to include a bibliography.

Technology is advancing fast enough for students to have easier access to information. “Availability of digital documents and telecommunications in general open good chances for plagiarism prosperity turning cheating into extremely easy and engaging process” (Lukashenko 1). Lukashenko means that although advancements in technology come with advantages, it also comes with newer sets of problems, which in this case is academic dishonesty and plagiarizing. Students have access to tools and opportunities to cheat their essays and assignments, creating a widespread problem for teachers and schools. With the new technology comes software that can detect plagiarizing, so the easier it is to cheat, the easier it is to track. This could possibly lead to some new innovation in the plagiarizing detection that could ideally eliminate plagiarizing altogether.

Works Cited

  1. Lukashenko, Romans. ‘Computer-Based Plagiarism Detection Methods and Tools: An Overview.’ CompSysTech 2007. Rousse, 2007. 6. Conference.
  2. New York University. Academic Integrity for Students at NYU. 1 8 2011. Website. 20 2 2019.
  3. Sierra College. ‘Sierra College Board Policy 5515.’ 2019. Sierra College. Policy. 20 2 2019.
  4. Bibliography
  5. Lukashenko, Romans. ‘Computer-Based Plagiarism Detection Methods and Tools: An Overview.’ CompSysTech 2007. Rousse, 2007. 6. Conference.
  6. New York University. Academic Integrity for Students at NYU. 1 8 2011. Website. 20 2 2019.
  7. Sierra College. ‘Sierra College Board Policy 5515.’ 2019. Sierra College. Policy. 20 2 2019.
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How Do Colleges Check for Plagiarism in Essays?. (2022, Feb 11). Retrieved from