How to find a good plagiarism checker

Viewing time: 5 mins. 17 secs.

The Write Question is a weekly video podcast all about writing. Today’s question addresses how to find a good plagiarism checker. If you have a question you’d like me to answer you can email me at daphne@publicationcoach.com, tweet me @pubcoach, or leave a message for me at the Skype account, The Write Question. 

Transcript: 

How do you find a good plagiarism checker? That’s the topic I’m addressing today in The Write Question. I’m Daphne Gray-Grant, the Publication Coach.

I have a question from Kazeem Sangonuga, who’s from Laos, Nigeria. Here’s what he’s asked via email: “Which software can I use to proofread my work and check for plagiarism as well?” 

Thanks for your question, Kazeem. I thought doing the research for today’s video would be easy-peasy. I estimated it might take me 20 minutes, another 10 minutes so to run some tests and then, there’d just be the job of writing up my findings. 

Oh, boy. Was I ever wrong. Here’s what happened: 

First, I tried a software called EasyBib. They offer a free three-day trial but they demand a credit card number first. I was prepared to give it to them, figuring I’d cancel the next day — but I wasn’t prepared for not being able to get into the website at all. I spend 10 minutes trying and then another 10 minutes looking for an email or phone number of a Help Desk. 

All I could find was a Twitter account, so I posted a pointed tweet. They did not reply! Two days later, I finally found the name of the parent company and was able to locate a phone number. I called them to learn that they had in fact already charged my card. But as a result of my strenuous objections, they agreed to reverse the charges. In any case, I don’t recommend EasyBib! 

After that, I decided to try a piece of software I already own, Grammarly. I entered one of my blog posts into it and in 20 seconds it reported “no plagiarism.” You might think I thought that was good news, but this particular column, link below, included a very long quote from radio host Ira Glass. And this 204-word quote has been published many times on the Internet. To me, this was another example of why I put little faith in Grammarly. 

Next, I tried three pieces of free software. Their names were Dupli-checker, Paper Rater and Plagscan. See links below. 

Duplichecker said my piece was 9% plagiarized, although it didn’t catch the Ira Glass quote. Paper Rater said it was “maybe plagiarized” but didn’t give me any details. And, Plagscan said it was 74% plagiarized, but I had such a hard time reading their report, I couldn’t figure out what 74% they meant! 

And then I had a shocking realization… The column I was checking had already appeared on my website! That meant that every plagiarism checker should have recognized it as 100% plagiarized. I’m astonished that none of them did. 

Then I thought I’d try another service I use every week, ProWritingAid. I really like this software and I seemed to recall it had a plagiarism checker. Well, they do, but it turns out it costs more than I’m entitled to with my membership. 

After some thought, I decided that answering your question was worth $10 to me, so I bought $10 worth of plagiarism checks. But wouldn’t you know the software didn’t recognize the credits so I had to email ProWritingAid for help. 

It turns out that my ProWritingAid account was linked to an old email address — one I no longer use very much, so it hadn’t seen my purchase of credits. Once I got that mess straightened out, the report told me my article was 50% plagiarized. 

Again, this was far less than the 100% it should have cited, but at least it underlined all the text I needed to review, which was better than what Plagscan did. 

Overall, I’m not terribly impressed with any of these plagiarism checkers. So I want to turn this question over to my readers and viewers. Are any of you aware of good plagiarism checking software. Please email me or post a comment on the YouTube channel. 

Finally, let me wrap up with a quote from Nigerian poet and writer Michael Bassey Johnson: “People can copy anything; your mode of dressing, the way you talk, walk, dance, sing, cry, but they will find it very hard to imitate the way you donate money.” 

Kazeem, I’m sorry I couldn’t identify better plagiarism-checking software for you. I’m guessing that you’re probably a student, so my number 1 suggestion is that you speak with one of your professors or your school library to get a good recommendation.

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If you’d like to learn how to stop procrastinating and make writing a happier more fulfilling process for yourself please take a look at my latest book Your Happy First Draft. I don’t sell it in bookstores or via Amazon. The only place to buy it is on my website, link below. 

Links: 

Column I used for testing 

Grammarly 

Dupli-checker

Paper Rater 

Plagscan 

Prowritingaid

Your Happy First Draft