Whether you are a writer looking for plagiarized copies of your work or a teacher/professor checking academic papers for plagiarism, Google is your friend.
Google provides, by far, the easiest way to perform quick plagiarism checks, whether to find if a work is plagiarized or has been the victim of plagiarism, it does so for free and it does it in a very robust way.
Though there are a lot of great tools out there with many great uses, Google remains my first stop for plagiarism checks in most cases as it is simply faster, cheaper and more accurate than most other tools.
Though you shouldn’t use it exclusively and definitely should not shy away from using additional tools, you need Google in your arsenal and you need to learn how to use it well. Otherwise, you may find yourself spending more time and money than needed while not getting the results you desire.
When deciding where to start with your plagiarism check, consider the five following reasons to start with Google:
- Human Analysis is Best: It is pretty trivial for a human to find a statistically improbable phrase that is likely to be reused. Some plagiarism checkers don’t ignore quoted and cited content and all search for content that is likely repeated without plagiarism. This means a few seconds spent on the front end finding a good phrase can save hours on the backend filtering through false positives. Furthermore, over-reliance on more automated systems can result in users taking the results as gospel and not performing adequate human evaluation. This can be a tremendous mistake.
- Immediate, Accessible and Free: Even a complicated Google search is returned within a few seconds. Some take days to process matches while even the faster ones usually take a few minutes, this hinders their usefulness in checking hunches. Also, Google is free to use and is available anywhere you have an Internet connection, even via your phone. The service that fits in your schedule and budget is the one you will use and if you don’t use a plagiarism checker, it can do no good at all.
- Accuracy: In my experience, Google produces far fewer false positives than even more advanced plagiarism checkers. It also has a very large database with billions of pages, including PDFs, Word files and other non-HTML formatted content. It also updates in very close to real time with Google News and blog search, making it great for finding instances of plagiarism that take place quick after publication.
- It’s What You Care About: If your work is plagiarized and the plagiarism isn’t in Google, does it exist? It’s a valid question and, if you’re a content creator worried about SEO, the answer is probably no. Other checkers that don’t work off Google’s database may cause you to spend time and resources on leads that don’t matter. Other databases are usually slower to update. Also, Google tends to do a good job of prioritizing matches for you, starting with those that are more important. Finally, Google, in my experience, is the most popular means for students to plagiarize their work, making it a logical tool to backtrack any suspected plagiarism.
- It’s Dead Simple: Everyone knows how to do a Google search. Not everyone knows how to format a paper for submission to another service. It’s a method anyone can use with almost no training at all, including those easily intimidated by technology.
In short, Google is easy to use, very fast and provides very accurate, broad results for the total price of free. Though it isn’t the perfect plagiarism checker by any stretch. When others ask me to quickly check a work for them, it is where I usually start. If something trips my sensors, I will often times use another checker, such as Plagium or CopyScape to drill down deeper.
In short, there is no intended slight in this of other plagiarism checkers, in fact, there are many legitimate needs that they are needed to fill.
As great as Google is, there are still limitations to what it can do and those limitations are often filled very well through other services. Consider the following:
- Organization and Resolution Assistance: Google simply provides results, it is up to you to organize them and take action on them. Services like Attributor and iCopyright Conductor, which are aimed at larger content creators, and Turnitin and SafeAssign, which are aimed at schools, provide that organization. This makes managing large case loads much more bearable.
- Additional Sources: Plagiarism checkers that specialize in academic environments, including Turnitin, include additional databases that are not available to Google including private article databases and research paper.
- Full-Work Matching: Though Google is great for quick checks and finding potential matching pages, determining what content is matching and which isn’t is a headache by hand. More robust checkers will highlight the duplicate content and make it easy to see at-a-glance what has been copied. Plagiarism checkers such as Copyscape, which is based on Google, and Plagium are natural additions to Google in this area. Also, collusion detection such as WCopyFind can check two suspect documents, such as one Google suspects, and highlight matching portions.
In short, these tools have a time and a place. I still recommend them highly and use them widely depending on the project and situation. However, they do some of their best work after Google or another search engine has alerted the searcher to the possibility of plagiarism and a deeper look is needed to determine how significant the potential infraction is.
When someone asks me to check and see if a work is plagiarized, especially if they are wanting me to see if the work appears anywhere else on the Web, I usually turn to Google first. Though other checkers are great, Google simply does the best job of letting me know how much copying the work has seen, who the most important infringers/likely sources are and if further research is needed.
Uunless Google alerts me that there is a likely problem, I know that other services will most likely be a waste of time that will possibly have me swimming through false positives or simply waiting for results. All in all, it is time lost that could be better spent elsewhere.
For most searches, Google is my primary tool of choice. Though it isn’t usually the last word on whether or not a work has been plagiarized, it tells me what I need to know and helps me better determine what I need to do next. It is my first choice for plagiarism checker, the default tool I reach for, but that doesn’t make it the only one I use.
Regardless, learning how to use Google for plagiarism detection and learning how to use it well should be the first priority for anyone wanting to find duplicate content, whether of their own work or to detect plagiarism in other’s. Without it, you won’t be as effective at plagiarism detection nor as able to perform the task.
Simply put, relying on a plagiarism checker to make decisions for you is a poor move, especially with the danger of false positives. Human judgement is the best and Google lets you exercise it some before bringing in the bigger guns.