Online Plagiarism Checkers: Quick Hands On

How good or bad, fair or unfair and accurate or inaccurate online Plagiarism checkers are? It is a question that started haunting me as I neared the end of my doctoral work. As  the time for submission of dissertation was coming, I came to know that the University required a soft copy of each submission and subject it to Turnitin and ithenticate. I found that Turnitin and ithenticate compared the submitted papers against their database of books. What  worried me the most were one, that I had referred to Google Books rather aggressively, and though, they were almost always properly and fairly attributed (to the best of my attempts in respect of a work done over a span of nearly 4 years) and though my work contained other online sources, offline sources as well as my original research, I was not sure how Turnitin and ithenticate would treat my paper given that I may have wordsmithed some Google Books or have referred to some already published ideas in my own words without realizing that it may be construed as plagiarism. Second, though Turnitin states that its “Similarity Index is just a percentage of material in the paper that matches sources in the Turnitin databases“* and that “instructors MUST look at the Originality Reports to determine if there is a problem“**, I am aware for a fact that most examiners in my Department either do not bother to refer to a detailed report or are, with all due respect, practically computer illiterate’ . Add to it the fact that I could neither find a satisfactory explanation to how Turnitin and ithenticate reports treat attribution, nor as a student do I have money to access Turnitin and ithenticate services.

So I decided to try free plagiarism checkers. Problem; apparently, most, if not all, free online plagiarism checkers maintain a database storing a copy of the paper submitted to them and compare the submissions made to them subsequently against such uploaded papers. It is not impossible that I submit my paper to such a free online plagiarism checker and come out with flying colors, only to have a subsequent check come out as 100% plagiarized, having  been compared against my previous submission***. Now that was something I couldn’t take chance with.

So what I did was create a new Word documents, copy-paste 170 words from my own original research (lets refer this as Category A), 184 words from books that I had reproduced verbatim in my research paper with attribution and which were available online as Google Books (Category B), 536 words in total from three Google Books; books which I had referred to in my paper with attribution but had not actually reproduced anything from (not even wordsmithing, I ensured) (Category C). All these 890 words were arranged in 11 paragraphs and the paragraphs did not have much inter-connectivity except a common underlined theme.

Here goes my test:

  1. Plagtracker ( Despite five attempts with varying number of words, the website failed to work and each time gave a 504 Gateway Time-out error.
  2. Plagscan ( Uploaded docx file – 20 free scan credits on free registration –  Result: 27.2% (27.2% what? Doesn’t seem to say; 27.2% copying I assume)  – 50 matches from 21 online sources; gives links to potential sources (good)  – doesn’t say what is meant by font colored in blue  and I’m assuming that font in red red denotes exact copy – the only paragraph which was boldly highlighted in red font was from a full book which is available in Public Domain, its copyright having expired by efflux of time (hereinafter referred to as the Public Domain book, for the purposes of this webpage) – Category C was largely identified as copied – original work (Category A) passes unscathed and a few marks referring to potential sources are completely incorrect, being unrelated, though exact, phrase matches – Most of Category B was marked as copied – most potential source of copying were redirected to Linkedin or (which failed to open).
  3. DupliChecker ( Uploaded docx file – 20 results (marking copying) – nine results were from the Public Domain book (although different web-links) – rest of the results from Category B – Nothing from Category A .
  4. Hrmph … now I’m tired … later.




* Misconception 3 at

** Misconception 1 at

*** “Many of these deceptive websites are in fact front businesses whose only goal is to collect authentic writing from their site visitors to later sell it on their paper mill sites. … What’s worse, your school’s anti-plagiarism software may recognize your document and consider it 100% plagiarized since it was able to find an exact match of your writing on the web.” –  The Perils of Anti-Plagiarism Software at

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