Anti-Plagiarism Tools: Scirus v. Google

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Conference Proceeding

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This project is an extension of an earlier research project in which the Google search engine was tested as a tool for detecting plagiarism in online master’s theses. The goal of that study was to determine whether Google might offer an inexpensive and efficient alternative to commercial plagiarism detection software and services. The authors selected phrases from electronic master’s theses and searched for matching phrases in the Google search engine. The authors sought to find out whether thesis advisors or thesis committee members might be able to use Google as an effective and efficient tool for detecting plagiarism. The earlier study revealed that searching selected texts from Master’s theses for 10 minute periods in Google yielded potential occurrences of plagiarism in 27% of the randomly selected theses from various academic disciplines (McCullough and Holmberg). Results from the initial project showed the highest incidence of potential occurrences of plagiarism in science and technology theses (McCullough and Holmberg). Thus, theses used for the current study were randomly selected from a set of science and engineering theses completed in 2003 and available electronically. While the current study applied the same methodology as the earlier study, the primary goal this time was to compare two search engines as tools for detecting plagiarism. A secondary goal was to further test the method of the earlier study— i.e. determine whether search engines are effective and efficient tools that can be used by theses advisors and other faculty for detecting plagiarism in graduate theses. Several recent articles have profiled extreme cases of plagiarism, suggesting the need for methods to detect and prevent plagiarism (e.g. Bartlett & Smallwood). The two search engines tested were Google and Scirus—a search engine designated “for scientific information only.” Our hypothesis was that more potential occurrences of plagiarism would be found using the Scirus search engine since it purports to include only scientific resources.