The most recent tricks in plagiarism

Find out the unique obstacles in the world of plagiarism for Tutors.

Professors fight a continuing battle with plagiarism, worsened by the expanding quantity of information openly supplied on the Web at the touch of a button. This continuous battle is experienced by producers of plagiarism checkers like, which are constantly being designed to deal with new threats and methods being used to cheat. It appears that those few students who cannot or do not want to write their assignments honestly have always got a new trick up their sleeve to get around university plagiarism detection software. So what’s the latest trick to fool plagiarism checkers such as and Turnitin?

Sly pupils have been acquiring essays written in another language, putting them through a free translator like Google Translate, and passing off the work as their own. This works particularly well for foreign language students’ coursework but could be applied to any topic provided the pupil is wise enough to translate their search into their target language to begin with. Although the free translators produce some rather strange translations, it is simple enough for them to tidy up the outcome. Is this an issue plagiarism checkers can tackle?

Languages don’t translate word for word to other languages – the word arrangement is typically rearranged from language-to-language. The scanner would also have to digest the file, translate it into however many languages are to be checked, and then put those scans against the internet, as well as scanning for plagiarism in the document’s language. The process would be complicated and lengthy. The remedy for this without doubt won’t be straight forward.

So what can be achieved to handle this new type of cheating? Rather than trying to discover plagiarism, maybe tutors should be looking at the root cause. Many students turn to cheating because they can’t complete their assignments themselves. This might be for several different reasons. A common explanation is that they are an international pupil who has been accepted onto a course for a higher course fee, and therefore the entry requirements for that course have been relaxed or waived completely. It is appealing for both the University and the Government to take on these pupils, since they invest more and introduce more funds into the country. But there is little or no additional support once they arrive – with universities or colleges typically stretched already in their resources and unable to provide additional teaching to assist those students work through the language barrier.

Other pupils simply do not have an understanding of their course and have difficulty, not knowing who to turn to. Lecturers are pushed for time and spread too thinly, and not able to give them the time they need to get by. Larger than expected classes often leave pupils hesitant to speak up when they’re falling behind.

Where there’s no additional tutelage presented, there’s an extra cost in time, resources and priority to set up learning support in the first place. So the final conclusion is that some students aren’t supported as much as they need to be and it is generally those students who turn to cheating. Should we concentrate on trying to detect these students? Or should we focus on preventing the issue by tackling it before they cheat? You decide.

Previous page: Self plagiarism 

Visit home page

You may also like: Plagiarism from a teacher's perspective