{Tools for book bloggers} Plagiarism checkers

Copycats are so uncool. Image from here.
I use Grammarly's plagiarism checker because I hate cats. Copycats.*

I mused about plagiarism in an earlier post. As book bloggers, we produce content on the web and need to educate ourselves about plagiarism, how to avoid it, how to detect it, and making sure we put a stop to it. (Check out plagiarism.org for more info.)

There are so many tools available to bloggers to check against being plagiarized. Many of them are free so it makes sense to try and find what works for you. As a disclaimer, I'm not recommending one over the other and my intent is simply to try these tools and share them with you. I have not done comprehensive testing either. I'll show you a few here and you can test them out!

I'd love to hear what tools you've used yourself. Which ones do you prefer and why? What tips can you share on curbing plagiarism?

In this post, I'll show you three tools: Grammarly, Copyscape and Plagiarism Checker.

Grammarly

Grammarly is a pretty new tool. The interface for the online version is simple and very easy to use. I tried the free online version and it looked at spelling, grammar, punctuation and style and word choice. Used along with Word's capabilities for spell-checking and grammar, this tool definitely helps in producing cleaner copy. Get the paid version and you get specialized advice, pointing out specific issues in the text and making suggestions to correct the issues. I am impressed! 

The question is whether this would help catching people from plagiarizing your content? The free online version will help you avoid plagiarism by checking it against content that's already floating out there in the interwebs -- 8 billion web pages, to be exact. I guess it goes both ways.

How to use: Copy-paste you text into a field (free/paid versions) or upload a file (paid version)

Free version: The free version only gives an alert or an indication whether your text is "original" or not. It doesn't point out what specific web pages have the same text. So the next step would be to figure out what part of the text is "unoriginal" which would take a bit of guesswork. 

Note: I simulated this alert by plugging in an Amazon.com synopsis I had copy-pasted in my own review.


Paid version: I have free access to the premium version* and copy pasted my review of Classics for Kids: Jane Eyre and Alice in Wonderland reimagined into Grammarly. Grammarly correctly detected that the text came from my blog and suggested ways of citing it.


Pros: Plagiarism checker is just among the features of this tool. Both free and paid versions available depending on what your requirements are. Easy to use, just cut-and-paste (in free version) or upload an entire file (in the paid version).
Con: Plagiarism checker in the free version is extremely limited; only an alert. Limited to specific web pages or entire articles; can't check entire websites/blogs. 

Other reviews:

Copyscape


Copyscape has been around for a while. I remember noticing this banner on some blogs years ago and proceeded to click and investigate. While I doubt that a simple banner saying "Do not copy" will thwart someone bent on copying content, it does serve as a good reminder/marketing banner ... after all that's how I discovered this tool.

How to use: This is pretty straightforward: just provide the link to your post.

Pro: Can search entire blogs or websites. There are free and paid versions. The paid version is extremely cheap at 5 cents per search, with a minimum purchase of 100 searches (min. $5), a steal compared to Grammarly if detecting plagiarism is your intent.

Con: Unsure how effective the free version is. I've copy-pasted my entire blog URL and it only came up with duplicate content for the most recent blog post. Sorry, can't say anything about the paid version as I didn't try it.

Other reviews:




Plagiarism Checker

Plagiarism Checker is free! It has two options, both free and both convenient: 
  • Check a Document - copy paste the text of your document 
  • Check a Web Page - enter your webpage url (in beta). 
How to use: Cut-and-paste your text into the field. A beta version using urls is also now available.

Pros: Free and very convenient to use. Depending on what type of text you're dealing with you can opt to use a cut and paste or just plug in the url, the latter being great for bloggers. 

I tried the "Check a Document" and again ran the same blog post through and it popped up the correct webpages. 

Cons: Limited to specific web pages or entire articles; can't check entire websites/blogs. The "Check a Web Page" doesn't seem to work yet, but I'll be keeping tabs of this feature. 

Other reviews:






* That first line is sponsored, I was given free access to the paid version of Grammarly.com for a month and given an Amazon gift certificate in exchange for this mention. The rest of the post are my own opinion.  

4 comments:

  1. This is a helpful post. I mean...not that I think my blog content is frequently plagiarized, but I do know it gets hits for searches on "analysis" and "explanation" or questions about books from time to time. It' d be nice to know if my original content remains originally mine.

    Good stuff.

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  2. I had the email from Grammarly too and the last line kind of creeped me out so I ignored it =/

    It's true that someone could easily just copy and paste our reviews though - but as of yet I haven't spotted anything of mine floating around!

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  3. We're not exactly writing academic papers. But the recent spurt of blog plagiarism within the book blogging community took me a bit by surprise. Morbid curiosity I guess on my part.

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