Plagiarism Detection and Prevention

What plagiarism detection software is available to online instructors?

Plagiarism detection software comes in different shapes and sizes. Some are targeted to organizations such as faculty in academic institutions; others are targeted to individual users such as students and teachers. I conducted multiple search engine queries to find both free and subscription-based services which can be used by online instructors. The results below appear to be used most often.

  • Turnitin ( is targeted to faculty and administrators in academic institutions through site licenses. It was initially created by four University of California Berkeley graduate students. Turnitin services include “OrginalityCheck, GradeMark, and PeerMark” (Turnitin, 2013). There is a new version available for iPad users.
  • iThenticate ( offers professional plagiarism services for authenticating “faculty research, faculty-authored articles and textbooks, grant proposals, supplemental course materials, and dissertations and theses” (iThenticate, 2013). According to their web site, it was developed by Turnitin. Clients include Central Michigan University, Clemson University, University of Virginia, Texas Tech University, Purdue University, and University of Michigan (iThenticate, 2013).
  • EVE2: Essay Verification Engine ( is another version of plagiarism detection software, available via an individual license or organizational site license (EVE2, 2013).
  • Viper ( promotes itself as being a “free alternative” to Turnitin. Its product is only available for Microsoft Windows users (Viper, 2013) which may be considered a disadvantage for Mac and mobile device users. The site includes “free lesson plans on plagiarism and referencing” (Viper, 2013).
  • WriteCheck ( is a subscription-based service targeted to students which offers plagiarism detection, grammar checking, and writing tutors. It uses the same technology and scans the same databases as Turnitin (WriteCheck, 2013) so it could be used as a resource for teachers and online instructors not having access to other plagiarism detection software through their academic institutions.

How can the design of assessments help prevent academic dishonesty?

Assessing student progress in face-to-face classes has traditionally been done through the use of written assignments and exams. According to Palloff and Pratt, exams do not work well in the online environment and therefore should not be used (Laureate Education, n.d.). While written assignments continue to be used in both face-to-face and online courses as a means of assessing student progress, the availability of essays, written reports, and resources on the Internet from term paper mills and other sources have contributed to increasing incidents of plagiarism among high school and higher education students (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012; Larkham & Manns, 2002, Trevino & Butterfield, 2001; as cited in Chao, Wilhelm, & Neureuther, 2009). One way plagiarism is being done is through the deliberate copying and pasting of the thoughts and ideas of other persons without proper citation (Jocoy & DiBiase, 2006).

To help prevent academic dishonesty, assessments should be redesigned using the following strategies:

  • Create assessments which are based on real-life experiences and expectations which cannot be easily duplicated by Internet sites intent on offering plagiarized materials for distribution and sale (Laureate Education, n.d.).
  • Utilize collaboration activities among groups of students for working on assignments and projects (Laureate Education, n.d.).
  • Involve students in assessment and reflection activities to add authenticity to assignments (Bassendowski & Salgado, 2005; as cited in Brown, Jordan, Rubin, & Arome, 2010).
  • Create assignments which encourage students to use critical thinking skills and application to their own lives (Bassendowski & Salgado, 2005, p. 4).
  • Add specific requirements to assignments which cannot be duplicated then change them every semester (Brown, Jordan, Rubin, & Arome, (2010).
  • Create course activities which utilize Internet tools such as blogs, wikis, chats, email, and online discussion boards for examples of each student’s writing style for plagiarism prevention (Baron & Cook, 2005; as cited in Brown et al., 2010, p. 117).
  • Provide learning resources for preventing plagiarism, hands-on practice with appropriate paraphrasing, and correct citation of resources (Chao et al., 2009

What facilitation strategies do you propose to use as a current or future online instructor?

As a future online instructor, it will be in my best interest to utilize facilitation strategies as recommended by Boettcher and Conrad (2010) so that the learner progresses through the four phases of engagement; i.e. “Newcomer, Cooperator, Collaborator, and Initiator or Partner” (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010, p. 97); while at the same time the instructor moves through the four roles of “Social Negotiator, Structural Engineer, Facilitator, and Community Member
or Challenger” (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010, p. 97). Facilitator strategies include the “creation of activities which require small group collaboration, problem solving, and reflecting on experiences through content discussions, role plays, debates, and jigsaws” (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010, p. 97). It is also important as the online instructor, to slowly reduce my presence as the course proceeds through each week so it becomes increasingly learner centered while at the same time becomes less instructor centered, primarily to promote the sense of community among the students enrolled in the course (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010).

What additional considerations for online teaching should be made to help detect or prevent cheating and plagiarism?

Plagiarism detection and prevention strategies must include the use of plagiarism detection software. Researchers in Brown et al. (2010) indicated the number of documents manually scanned for positive evidence of plagiarism was lower than the number of documents electronically scanned for positive evidence of plagiarism. In contrast, it is well known, software such as Turnitin produces false positives, reporting “frequently used content-related phrases as non-original and website content changing from the time of submission to the verification of plagiarism by the faculty member” (Brown et al., 2010, p. 119). These false positives can unfairly penalize a good student through no fault of their own. It is therefore the responsibility of the instructor to contact the student to investigate the situation and determine if there indeed is a true positive case of plagiarism.

What did you learn that would help you implement effective online instructional strategies in the future?

Through course readings, supplemental resources, and writing for this blog assignment, I learned the importance of being proactive when it comes to detecting and preventing plagiarism.


Bassendowski, S. L., & Salgado, A. J. (2005). Is plagiarism creating an opportunity for the development of new assessment strategies? International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship, 2(1), 0-13. Retrieved from

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Brown, V., Jordan, R., Rubin, N., & Arome, G. (2010). Strengths and weaknesses of plagiarism detection software. Journal of Literacy and Technology, 11(1/2), 110-131. Retrieved from

Chao, C., Wilhelm, W., & Neureuther, B. (2009). A study of electronic detection and pedagogical approaches for reducing plagiarism. Delta Pi Epsilon Journal, 51(1), 31-42. Retrieved from

EVE2 (2013, August 8). What is EVE2? Retrieved from

iThenticate (2013, August 8). About ithenticate: plagiarism detection software. Retrieved from

Jocoy, C., & DiBiase, D. (2006). Plagiarism by adult learners online: A case study in detection and remediation. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 7(1), 1-15. Retrieved from

Laureate Education Inc. (Producer). (n.d.). Plagiarism and cheating [Video]. With Dr. Rena Palloff and Dr. Keith Pratt.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

Turnitin (2013, August 8). Turnitin features. Retrieved from

Viper (2013, August 8). Viper’s features. Retrieved from

WriteCheck (2013, August 8). Features: Why you’ll love writecheck. Retrieved from


4 responses to this post.

  1. Penny,

    Very nicely written! I enjoyed the several examples you gave regarding the different plagiarism. I have not heard of Viper before and will be checking that one out. You also made a good point discussing the false positives. I think the software is a great first step but should not completely erase the role of the instructor. They are valuable at knowing the student and what their capability is. Also, I agree with Heather that there is a good chance that plagiarism happens more often than not based on the student lack of ability knowing how to cite properly. Maybe some additional references to this topic should be done before a course starts to help the student.


  2. Penny,

    The software I’m most familiar with is We use it at Walden and well as the school I work for. Our biggest challenge is getting students to understand what Plagiarism is. We constantly have repeat offenders, even with the same paper sometimes!I Sometimes I think it’s harder to educate online students on plagiarism than those in a face to face setting. I also believe a cause of plagiarism is simply that students do now know how to cite their references properly or even paraphrase (I struggle with this myself too).



    • Posted by Penny Baker on August 19, 2013 at 1:08 am

      Thanks for commenting on my blog. I appreciate you taking the time to share your experience with using plagiarism detection software.


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