Skip to main content

The Study Hall

Plagiarism Isn't Just a Similarity Score: Why It’s Worth Clicking on the Plagiarism Report 

Plagiarism reports, which are available for every submitted paper in Canvas, have become so commonplace that instructors seem to rely solely on the percentage they see against every student paper scanned. However, Unicheck similarity reports have been built to provide a truly comprehensive picture of a student’s integrity, which is so much more than the match score alone. 

One thing that can help persuade you to dig deeper into examining similarity reports is this: Every day, there are multiple ways of tricking match scores that are being invented by the most creative and proactive (in this regard) learners.  

They include:

  • Replacing vowels in the Latin-based text to the similar-looking characters from Cyrillic alphabet (think o, e, i, y, etc.)
  • Including photos of plagiarised text (which aren’t recognized as text) and adding irrelevant, yet original, passages beneath
  • Pushing tiny transparent symbols and formulas in between words to compromise a plagiarism score
  • Colluding students who submit the same paper simultaneously to avoid a huge match with each other’s copies of this same paper, which otherwise occurred if they submit it at different times

The list goes on and on, but the main takeaway is that any individual similarity report may contain some insightful and sometimes unpredictable data compared to the match score you see on the assignment page. And the report navigation allows you to inspect the trickiest things just in a couple of clicks. We definitely recommend you try it out.

Learn more

Unicheck match score of the paper displayed in the SpeedGrader

Unicheck match score of the paper displayed in the SpeedGrader

Handy Tricks to Verify the Integrity of Any Writing

Navigate Quickly

Once in the Unicheck report, you see color-coded text. Matches, quotes, and references are colored in orange, blue, and purple colors, respectively, for you to detect those easily. And a minimap on the left upper corner allows for quick navigation across detected matches, citations, and references. It means you can simply click on areas of your interest without spending precious time scrolling through a lengthy paper.

Color-coded minimap for easy navigation across the document

Color-coded minimap for easy navigation across the document


Get the Match Score Honed

The similarity report gathers match sources across the internet and your private library of academic papers. But in reality, some matches simply won’t look appropriate and significant enough in every particular case to mark them as potential plagiarism. To ensure the assessment is made with integrity and fairness, it’s our duty as educators to apply a personalized approach in grading student academic works.

To make this process quick and easy, the Unicheck report has quite a toolset:

1) Exclude irrelevant matches individually and include them back if you change your mind or if you excluded them by accident.

Exclude insignificant matches with the “Exclude” button

Exclude insignificant matches with the “Exclude” button
 

Excluded matches can be reincluded via the “Exclusion” tab

Excluded matches can be reincluded via the “Exclusion” tab
 

2) Use the “Exclusion options” filter to eliminate insignificant matches below a certain number of consecutive words or similarity percentage.

Use the filters under the “Exclude sources less than” umbrella

Use the filters under the “Exclude sources less than” umbrella


3) With just one click, investigate match sources side-by-side with the student’s text without leaving the report. 

Use the “Compare” button on the Matches tab

Use the “Compare” button on the Matches tab

 

Side-by-side comparison mode in the Unicheck report

Side-by-side comparison mode in the Unicheck report
 

Take a Closer Look at Quotes

Quotes can be another source of uncertainty when it comes to the originality of the text. When properly cited, they are initially excluded from the collective match score for obvious reasons—reinforcing your own idea with a statement of a thought leader is not considered plagiarism. But here is a tricky thing: pieces of the text that are formatted as quotes can turn up just made-up passages that are there simply to add “originality” to the text. 

To avoid such mishaps, we should see if the quote exists and is real. There are two quick ways of confirming this:

1) Omit quotes individually. On the quotes tab, select a specific citation and click the “Omit Quote” button. If this quote exists, Unicheck will find it online and mark it as plagiarism (text highlighted in orange). 

2) Use the toggle on the “Exclusion options” filter to add all quotes to the collective match score of the paper. 
 

Uncover Hidden Manipulations With Text

This one is the trickiest. Even when inspecting the paper, you won’t be able to identify most text modifications that are made to influence the match score. The Unicheck report detects multiple forms of such manipulation and features all cases on the “Modifind” tab of the report. When you click the “Inspect” button, you’ll see the version of the text as a human eye sees it side-by-side with what Unicheck’s text modification detection algorithm does:

1) Character replacement occurs when letters, typically the vowels, are replaced with characters from other alphabets that look exactly the same. For example, the letters o, a, i, y from the Latin-based alphabet changed for the same ones from the Cyrillic script.

The Modified tab contains all detected cases of text manipulation

The Modified tab contains all detected cases of text manipulation
 

2) Invisible symbols pushed in between words to make unoriginal text look original to the algorithm.

Signs of text manipulation that aren’t visible for the human eye

Signs of text manipulation that aren’t visible to the human eye
 

Suspicious formatting caught by Modifind, Unicheck’s text modification algorithm

Suspicious formatting caught by Modifind, Unicheck’s text modification algorithm
 

3) White-colored chunks of text added on the blank segments of pages to add the word count and originality to the writing.

Invisible passages added at the blank part of the page

Invisible passages added at the blank part of the page
 

Takeaway

Every piece of educational software is created with the idea that human intelligence can’t ever be replaced, at least not with a computer algorithm. While we’re striving to simplify the lives and routines of educators as much as possible, we still need your internal radar and intuition to achieve the best effectiveness, integrity, and fairness of the educational process of the twenty-first century.


Interested in all things edtech, Kate digs deep into the dilemmas of contemporary education to deliver a comprehensive picture of how the worlds of tech and academia intersect.