Picture of two students looking at a computer screen. Picture of a professor with a computer teaching a small group of students. Picture of a student working at a laptop.

Assessment Strategy: Detecting Plagiarism


Many universities and colleges provide "plagiarism checker" software such as Turnitin (http://turnitin.com/) or features built into a course management system (e.g., Blackboard). These programs allow higher education instructors to detect incidents of plagiarism by copying or typing suspicious passages from student work into a software program that then compares the text to published works. If this service is not provided by your institution, Google can be used as your plagiarism checker. Google works best for checking short passages (1-2 sentences).


Please click below for an audio of the introduction to Using Google Searches to Detect Plagiarism.


Instructions on How to Use Google to Detect Plagarism

To use Google to check a passage from a student’s work, the first step is to copy or type the passage into the Google search bar within quotation marks. Putting words in quotation marks assures that Google will search for those exact words in that exact order elsewhere on the Internet. If the exact sentence is not found by Google, then proceed to step two. Remove the quotation marks from the passage, and search again. Google will search for phrases that are similar to the phrases typed into the search bar.

Too many “hits” or potential sites may be listed to check after either step1 or step 2. To narrow your results, you may want to use step1 or step 2 in Google Scholar (http://scholar.google.com) or Google Books (http://books.google.com). These engines search scholarly pieces and books respectively. While using Google will not detect all incidents of plagiarism, it will detect many and serves as a good first approach to guard against plagiarism.

Technical Requirements and Where to Access Google Tools

No specific hardware or software is required to use Google, Google Scholar, or Google Books. The software does not require a download to your computer.

Go to http://www.google.com to access the Google search engine.

Go to http://scholar.google.com to access the Google Scholar search engine.

Go to http://books.google.com to access the Google Books search engine.


Every e-Tool in the e-Toolbox was reviewed by either a UDI Online Project research and design team member, or one or several faculty at five partner institutions who incorporated a specific e-Tool into an online or blended course they taught. Faculty from these partner institutions also requested that students review the e-Tool included in a course or products created through the use of the e-Tool (e.g., documents, videos, audio clips, or other items). Likert scale surveys with open-ended questions were used by respondents.  Feedback from the reviewing UDI Online team member or faculty who used a tool is presented in addition to student ratings when available.


e-Tool Review Results

Faculty e-Tool Review Results
Number of faculty reviewers: 1

A member of the project research and design team has reviewed this e-tool. This strategy for detecting plagiarism is easy to use and serves as a great screening method. There are limitations to using this strategy since it is not as sensitive to slight paraphrasing and involves searching the entire Internet versus other sites that more strategically sample the Internet for places from which students are more likely to plagiarize.


Student e-Tool Review Results

Number of students who took the survey: 7

Number of students with learning disabilities who took the survey: 0

1. The tool was easy to use.

Picture of review results -16.7% of student reviewers strongly agreed that this e-tool was easy to use. 16.7% of student reviewers agreed that this e-tool was easy to use.  66.7% of student reviewers felt unsure this e-tool was easy to use.


 2. The tool assisted me with the following: (Select all that apply)

Picture of results on -100% of student reviewers used this e-tool to understand course requirements.  66.7% of student reviewers used this e-tool to reduce physical demands and to allow maximum attention to learning.  33.3% of student reviewers used this e-tool to facilitate communication with other students in the class. 33.3% of student reviewers used this e-tool to facilitate communication with their instructor.  66.7% of student reviewers used this e-tool to demonstrate their understanding of the course content.


3. Please comment on the benefits of using the tool in the course.

  • Organized website to look at class information.





4. Please comment on any drawbacks of using the tool. 

  • Some of the links to click were misleading.