July 5, 2015
I remember in high school when my friend paid me to write a book review of Treasure Island. Unfortunately for him, I wasn’t that good of a writer. My idea was to get half of the money upfront and purchase Cliff Notes, using it to make an abridged version of the story (yes, this was before the Internet so Wikipedia wasn’t available yet).
The paper was perfectly written and even my friend gave me praise after reading the three page review which contained a synopsis, character descriptions, and my opinion on the book. Everything was perfect until his professor, who also owned the Cliff Notes to the book, read the review. Although I did not plagiarize the content, it was so “strikingly similar” (the professor’s words, not mine) that my friend ended up with the best D+ grade in the class.
What his professor did at that time is something that Cyprus based company Unplag is currently doing for modern-day educators. Plagiarism is all too common in education with people taking excerpts from other people’s works and sometimes simply copy and pasting entire texts and turning it in as their own work.
And then there were websites like Copyscape which became go-to sites for plagiarism. Simply copy and paste the text into the website and it will return a plagiarism report showing you websites where the content was taken from.
While these sites are great tools, they cannot catch everything. In fact, many students use them to check their plagiarized work prior to turning it in. All it takes it seeing what content is an exact match and change up the wording with different phrases or word order.
Problem solved: In late 2014, Unplag took this ability away from students.
Unplag released its algorithm that will check content for not only same, but similar content. This means that in addition to doing what plagiarism websites do, it will also show you similarities such as rewording of plagiarized content. The result is effectively taking away a student’s ability to reword or paraphrase content before passing it off as their own.
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