How To Plagiarism Check: Avoid Unintentional Plagiarism

How to Plagiarism Check cover
Santiago Mallea

Santiago Mallea

Content Writer At Gradehacker

How to Plagiarism Check

Has it ever happened that what you thought was one of your best academic papers ended up losing valuable points because you didn’t know how to plagiarism-check your work correctly?

Accidental plagiarism happens, and it’s more common than you think.

As a college student, you know that a critical element of academic writing is always delivering original content with a list of sources included. Handing in a paper with specific information from an external reference without giving it the credit it deserves can make an outstanding text a failed assignment.

And with so many plagiarism detection software available, professors can now find potential plagiarism in papers without an issue. Even a single sentence with unwanted duplicate content can make you go from an A to a B or even less.

You must know how to check for plagiarism, and in this blog post, you’ll find the best tips.

Here at Gradehacker, we are the non-traditional adult student’s most trusted resource. We have years of experience helping students like you write completely original essays and check for plagiarism issues.

That’s why today we’ll explain everything you need to know about how to check for plagiarism in your own work and make sure that you are never delivering duplicate content ever again.

How to Plagiarism Check Student checking plagiarism

What is Considered Plagiarism?

First of all, it’s important to understand the definition.

You are committing direct plagiarism when you use another author’s text or ideas without giving them proper credit, hence making it look like what you are saying comes from your experience and research.

Basically, you are stealing information from someone else.

Types of Plagiarism

Now, it’s critical to mention that there can be different types of plagiarism.

The most common one happens when you don’t give credit to your source. It can usually be found among inexperienced students who still need to learn how to check plagiarism issues and end up committing accidental plagiarism.

But if you are an experienced student, you may have other copyright issues.

One is called Patchwork Plagiarism and consists of piecing together different existing texts to create “a new one.” It’s taking someone else’s content, adding additional information from a second or third source, and paraphrasing all of them with a few changes here and there.

Similarly, Mosaic Plagiarism occurs when you take one text and rearrange its words differently without issuing proper credit. Since you are changing the order, a plagiarism tool could take your text as original wording and fail to detect that you are copying.

However, if your professor manually recognizes plagiarism content in your work, it’s likely that because of your intention to hide your actions, you will have to face harder consequences.

And since we are talking about plagiarism consequences…

What Are The Consequences Of Plagiarism?

While it depends on your profession, plagiarism consequences for students can go from light to extremely severe.

Colleges ask all of their students to hold a high level of academic integrity, and it’s their responsibility to always submit original work that is 100% free of plagiarized content. And there is no excuse for that.

Not complying with the college’s plagiarism guidelines can result in different disciplinary actions that depend on the level and intention of the mistake.

Academic plagiarism, with just a few examples, can mean a considerably lower grade.

Incremental plagiarism with many sentences copied word for word can mean an automatic failed grade.

Now, doing something like looking for a paper that someone uploaded online, making little to no changes to it, and delivering it, hoping that the professor won’t use a plagiarism detector to notice the resemblance, can get you removed from the class or even expelled from your college.

The only plagiarism consequence that applies in all cases is that after getting caught, teachers are more likely to mistrust you and conduct more in-depth similarity checks in future assignments.

How to Plagiarism Check Student Writing

How to Plagiarism Check Your Work

So, it’s clear that checking your paper for plagiarism issues is necessary to ensure that you are not committing any unwanted errors that could put your academic integrity at risk.

If you want to learn how to plagiarism check your papers and avoid any future problems, this is what you need to do:

Use an Online Plagiarism Checker

The easiest way to quickly check whether you are at plagiarism risk is by using a plagiarism detector.

These are some plagiarism software you can use:

These online tools will give you a detailed plagiarism report with a percentage and highlight which sections of your writing are copied. 

While some professors accept papers with a percentage of plagiarism up to 20% or 25%, we recommend scoring below 10%.

If you want to learn more about these tools, we highly recommend checking out our top plagiarism checkers for college students.

If the plagiarism detector you choose is integrated into a writing app like Grammarly, you get additional features.

Besides an accurate plagiarism checker, you get your text reviewed sentence by sentence and a detailed report with all your writing issues (grammar, spelling, and styling mistakes.)

Two of the best writing apps we recommend are Grammarly and ProWritingAid. You can learn more about them and what they include in our reviews and comparison.

Cite Your Work

Yes, it may sound obvious, but the best way to avoid any plagiarism risk is to ALWAYS cite the original source.

The biggest problem with online plagiarism checkers is that because they are advanced database software that compares your work with millions of texts, they don’t differentiate direct citations that are correctly referenced from plagiarized content.

Because of this, when they find that the cited sentence in their text has been highlighted as plagiarism, many students believe that they have to change the wording or can’t reference the source as they were doing. 

But as long as you add the author’s name in parenthesis after the in-text citation and give full credit in the reference list, you won’t have any plagiarism issues, even if the plagiarism scanner recognizes it as copied content.

Still, this doesn’t mean you can copy an entire paragraph from an external source and include it in your work.

For shorter essays (1,000 words), direct quotations should be at most 50 words. In comparison, for longer papers (2,000 words or more), you can include lengthier citations or even entire sentences. Still, you will have to write them in a separate paragraph and follow the proper citation format.

Be Mindful of Common Phrases

Something similar can happen with common phrases.

As explained above, a plagiarism detection tool will analyze your entire paper and compare it with billions of internet sources.

If in your essay you include common phrases (such as furthermore, in light of, according to, to this end, and more), the plagiarism software may identify these academic words as copied content from other authors.

While you can always replace these commonly overused words with similar alternatives, remember that your professor likely won’t identify them as plagiarism.

Still, remember to aim to earn a plagiarism percentage below 10% when you run it to ensure that you are delivering a paper with your original work.

How to Plagiarism Check Writing

Avoid Plagiarism And Write 100% Original Papers

Now you know how to check for plagiarism in your papers.

Follow our tips, and you’ll never have to worry about failing a paper just because you didn’t realize you were accidentally copying without citing the author.

Remember to use a plagiarism checker to get a percentage before submitting your paper. These online plagiarism detection tools are key and can help you identify where you have duplicate content.

If you keep having plagiarism issues or simply want help with your assignments, remember that you can always count on Gradehacker! We know how important delivering a 100% original paper is, and we have many years of helping college students with their essays and entire classes.

And if you want more tips on how to write better papers, check out these related blog posts:

Santiago Mallea

Santiago Mallea

Santiago Mallea is a curious and creative journalist who first helped many college students as a Gradehacker consultant in subjects like literature, communications, ethics, and business. Now, as a Content Creator in our blog, YouTube channel, and TikTok, he assists non-traditional students improve their college experience by sharing the best tips. You can find him on LinkedIn.