If you like to keep up to date with the national news, you will surely have heard about plagiarism in university academic works.

The truth is that it has been a hot topic in recent times because it has splattered some former senior government officials. This problem has stimulated the acquisition of anti-plagiarism systems by many Spanish universities to detect possible fraud in doctoral theses, master’s degree projects (TFM) and end-of-degree projects (TFG).

Do you know what anti-plagiarism systems are and how they work? If you are a university student you will be interested in this information, since plagiarism can result in serious consequences for the academic career.

Anti-plagiarism systems: why their use has been extended

As defined by the RAE, plagiarism implies «copying in the substantial works of others, giving them as their own.» Plagiarism in the academic world has always existed, although prior to the emergence of new technologies the process was much more arduous. Before, you had to go to the library or acquire specialized literature to transcribe directly from the sources consulted.

However, the arrival of the Internet has been an important hint for many rascals who have used it to carry out academic work without developing original content.

Nowadays, any student uses different mobile devices in their daily life like a computer or a smart phone. From these devices, you are just a click away from a huge amount of information on the subject in which their studies focus. In such a way, plagiarizing is very simple.

But … is academic plagiarism really such a widespread habit? A research report directed by J. Sureda and R. Comas and prepared by students of the UIB (University of the Balearic Islands) in 2008 revealed figures with regard to this. The study showed that about 80% of the surveyed students acknowledged having «copy-paste» fragments of content extracted from the Internet without having referenced the source.

The figure is really high and perhaps you have recurred yourself to «copy and paste» in order to perform your academic work, even knowing that you were not being honest with the teacher or with yourself.

Some people have decided to take this action to its maximum consequences by plagiarizing documents as important for academic life as a TFG and even a doctoral thesis.

The reasons that lead to plagiarism are many and varied. Students argue from the lack of time to create original content to not perceiving that they are committing a serious fault. Convenience and the justification that other colleagues also do it are other of the reasons alleged.

What are anti-plagiarism systems and how they work?

The rise of plagiarism has led many Spanish universities to equip their teachers with tools capable of detecting copy in academic work. These are anti-plagiarism systems.

These tools are not only useful for teachers but also for those students who need to check the level of originality of a specific text.

Anti-plagiarism systems are software designed to verify original content. Its function is to compare the text with very large databases that include all types of documents. In this way, they can detect which part of the text is original content and which has been plagiarized from some previous source.

The databases used for anti-plagiarism systems consist of thousands of documents in different formats such as Word, PDF, .txt or PPT. In addition, they also compare work pieces with the online information that appears on web pages, blogs, and even in social network publications.

Once the study is done, the anti-plagiarism software shows the results filtering the copied contents and indicating the percentage of similarity with other sources.

In the market there is a wide variety of anti-plagiarism systems, some of them are payable as Turnitin, used by 70% of Spanish universities. Among the free anti-plagiarism systems we can highlight the following.

6 free anti-plagiarism systems

Copyscape: Allows the analysis of ULRs and compares them with information available on the network. It has premium plans with more features.

Plagium: Through this software you can quickly verify the original contents. In addition, it indicates the sources from which it has been extracted in the event of a plagiarized text.

PlagScan: This anti-plagiarism system supports the upload of files in different formats to be scanned in search for analogies with other network contents. The results that it produces are arranged according to the degree of similarity with other texts.

Dupli Checker: Another very easy-to-use plagiarism detector to make a quick sweep over those suspicious texts.

• Doc Cop: Very useful for comparing documents with each other.

Google: The king of search engines can become another useful anti-plagiarism system. To do this, simply insert the suspect text fragment in quotation marks and click on search.

These are some of the anti-plagiarism systems that you can use to check and verify those contents that you doubt are original.

Remember that adding a fragment of an existing text to an academic work is correct if it is done in the proper way: attributing the authorship to the original creator through bibliographic quotes. University plagiarism is not recommended at all, since it can mean immediate suspension and even carry worse consequences.

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