How can I check for plagiarism in my paper?

By Sruthi Swaminathan, MSc, Microbiology, The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda

Did you know that even unintentional plagiarism can result in negative comments from journal reviewers or even lead to manuscript rejection?

Often, researchers use the wording from published manuscript verbatim. Even if the source is being cited, it is important to avoid using the wording of published manuscripts verbatim and preferably write the text in your own words. Even after rewriting the text, it helps to check for plagiarism in your paper. You may read about plagiarism and how to avoid it here

Remember that checking for plagiarism always helps, even if you think your manuscript does not need it, as this helps you in being prepared in case the journal editor gets back stating that the text has a high plagiarism percentage. In such cases, you will know what the issues are and will be in a better position to explain why the instances are not plagiarized text.

This leads to the obvious question about how you can check for plagiarism in your paper.

There are many free and paid software available online that you can use to check for plagiarism. Different software have varied advantages and limitations, so use one that suits your needs and requirements.

While you can check for plagiarism using these software, many companies offering academic editing have services that check for plagiarism.

It may be preferable to avail of plagiarism check services, as you will need to have some understanding about the software, how it should be used, and how the result/output is given (in addition to the fact whether the software is paid) if you use online software. Moreover, checking for plagiarism needs some manual effort and understanding to determine if the text is actually plagiarized or not even after the software has been used; this is because often many general phrases/words as well as technical terms and jargon may be indicated to be plagiarized text, which may not be true, as there might not be suitable alternatives for these terms. Therefore, a high percentage of plagiarism might not necessarily indicate plagiarism. Accordingly, the check for plagiarism should be done carefully and the results evaluated judiciously.

Hope these tips are useful in understanding how you can check for plagiarism in your paper. Happy checking!

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