Thursday, February 9, 2023 Review: Can You Bet Your Grade on it?

If you’ve read any of my articles as of late, especially the recent one depicting how to write a research paper, you may have noticed something. I write, a lot. As I am typing this, I have just completed around 20 pages worth of health policy and homeland security research essays, and looking forward to next semester simply because I’ll only need to worry about polishing a 35 page research paper and work in disaster zones for much of it. So, if anyone would know the importance of mitigating the risk of plagiarism, it’d be me. I’ve spent more time than I would like to admit scrutinizing my work to make sure I wasn’t too closely mimicking policy or research that I have read, or even myself in previous academic papers. That’s why when given the chance to review, I jumped on it. That being said, I have a nearly 4.0 GPA to put on the line if this doesn’t work out or I toe the line too closely. So, let’s take a look at the product itself, as well as my experience with it.

First, What is Plagiarism?

Before we get down to the nitty-gritty on the product, let’s take a look at what it’s trying to prevent. Most people have a decent idea of what plagiarism is in that it’s a bad idea to rip a page out of a textbook and slap it in as the 3rd page of your 5-page essay. But, it can also be much more subtle than that.
As odd as it seems, there’s no one agreed on definition for plagiarism, though most academic institutions and work places can sum it up in the 10 fatal mistakes of research writing, which entail: Submitting someone else’s research or writings as your own, taking parts (even a sentence) from a publication or person without giving proper citation, a rewrite of someone’s ideas without citation, vague quote usage, using multiple sources but not citing, incomplete citation, combining cited content and uncited information in a deceptive way, direct copying (even with citation), giving incorrect citation information, and relying too much on someone else’s work, while failing to give any original thought to the topic at hand. It’s important to keep in mind that this can be from other people or even yourself in previous work, so while it may be awkward, it is appropriate (if a bit pretentious) to cite your own works if you use them.

How does check for Plagiarism?

Despite the somewhat vague definition, seems quite confident in being able to root it out before your professor does (or if you’re a teacher, before you hand out grades). To do this, uses an algorithm that checks source materials against the written text, looking for exact word matches, simple sentence rearrangements, the use of synonyms, and tonal changes which are the most common forms of plagiarism coverup, either intentional or accidental. They also offer some anti-cheating services, which means hidden symbols can be revealed, and if you think you may be clever by using Cyrillic (especially if you’re a Russian speaker such as myself) instead of latin letters to avoid detection, this website has your number. That being said, it will not be unfair and ding you for properly cited APA or MLA references, where there can be some allowances made.

PlagiarismCheck.Org First Impressions

When first checking out the website, you’ll notice that the developers very much enjoy the Web 2.0 vibe, and honestly given the service it works quite well. All functions are more or less point and click, and while this is a new company at 5 years old, it does have a relatively good user base (at around 77,000 at time of writing) and claims to be working on integrations for things like WordPress and Canvas, as well as web browser add-ons, which might be useful for those who write using the Google cloud instead of OpenOffice or Microsoft Office. Displayed right in the center of the screen, before you can even find the login is a 1 page free (either through text input or upload in a variety of formats) which is always a promising sign. So let’s take a look at how well it works.

PlagiarismCheck.Org Test Drive

To properly test out this service, I decided to keep the one free page and buy another 20 for $6, which is their lightest option. For most high school or undergrad students this should be enough for a semester, but for graduate or postgrad, this should last you all of 2 weeks (or in some cases, a week) and is actually not too bad as there’s no monthly membership charge, there is 24/7 support and you can always upgrade later. The other two options are the standard package of 50 pages for $10, or 150 for $25.50, which are both great deals if you find you like the service. These pages don’t seem to expire, which is great if you happen to have a light semester.

So, to begin checking the paper of your choosing, after purchasing enough pages, go to my documents and select “new check.” I was happy to see that in addition to click and drag and text entry, they also allowed an attach file button here, as quite frankly I have more papers on my desktop than I should, and the only way I know how to search them is through file explorer. After selecting the file desired, a rather useful window appears which shows how many pages your current file is and how many pages you have remaining, which is great to make sure you both have the right file and the number of pages that it requires. After proceeding, a new window will open and it will take a moment or two to produce a report. For my first test, I put up an essay regarding Health Care Reform and Federalism, which is a bit of a niche topic, and had a previously calculated plagiarism risk percentage of 0.9% using the sources cited. In contrast, Plagiarism Check gave me a slightly lower percentage of 0.67%, which is still well within the ballpark and then gave me a potential non-listed resource (in this case, a youtube video which covered the good faith exception law and admissible evidence, which was a bit off topic, but still handy to see that they used a web crawler to not just depend on the submitter’s bibliography. PlagiarismCheck.Org, when asked to inspect a source, will open a new tab with the exact source highlighted, which is a great feature.

For the second check, I did a broader topic regarding homeland security, which again took a little while to have a report formed on it (and was another 7-page paper). In this essay, there was a rating of 2.16%, though this seemed to come from a slight error detecting parts of my bibliography as part of the essay itself. What I did find humorous is that when checking the source links, several of the plagiarism checks linked back to Wikipedia pages where I had, in fact, started my search for resources, so I’d call that a point in their book.

For my final check, I decided to be a bit mischievous. To test the claim of Cyrillic recognition and the extent of plagiarism it could detect, I put in a synthesis of several different portions of different articles about the Cyrillic alphabet and replaced quite a few of those letters with Cyrillic equivalents. Surprise, surprise, PlagiarismCheck caught on very quickly with a 98.37% plagiarism check, with the remaining portion being excluded as potentially cited quotes.

Final Verdict on PlagiarismCheck.Org

Overall, I would say I’m fairly impressed with PlagiarismCheck.Org. While not perfect (and what tech really is?) it does provide a somewhat useful service that can at least catch errors with a good deal of accuracy, though the finest of fine points may be glossed over. The added Cyrillic “translate” feature is quite neat, and I’m honestly rather excited to see how this company and program develops over time. In the moment, I’d give PlagiarismCheck.Org a 9 out of 10, and would love to revisit it sometime in the future to see what improvements have been made. To answer the question posed at the top of this review: Yes, you can bet your grade on PlagiarismCheck.Org.

Cody Carmichael
University graduate in Psychology, and health worker. On my off time I'm usually tinkering with tech or traveling to the ends of the globe.


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