Cracking down on plagiarism
Sometimes you just know a piece of writing doesn't sound like something a student could have written, but how can you verify it?
There are several web sites that offer services to screen for plagiarism such as turnitin.com. Turnitin compares an uploaded piece of writing against billions of existing web pages and databased items. Unfortunately, this service is not free.
What to do? Try a Google search!The magic number is between 5 and 7. Copy a phrase from the writing you suspect is not a student's original work, put it in quotes and paste it into a Google search field.By placing the phrase in quotes, you make Google search for those exact words in that exact order. Here's an example: "The zombie shuffled mindlessly forward". Believe it or not, this is not a contrived scenario. It really happened in a classroom I was visiting. A Google search result shows that this phrase - and many others - occur in a published work:
If you are using Google Advanced Search you can paste the phrase without quotes here:
How do you get to Google Advanced Search?
If you are logged in to your Google account click the gear next to your username and select Advanced search. If you don't have a Google account, get one! Or, point your browser here: