Examination of the Master thesis on plagiarism

Nobody should decorate themselves with foreign feathers and feel honorable at the same time. However, many students do not know that plagiarism in the master’s thesis goes far beyond the scientific sense of honor and in the worst case can lead to more than dishonorable forced enrollment. Therefore, more and more finalists want to check the results of their research for mistakes. More specifically, sources indicated incorrectly or incompletely. Whether the exam makes sense at all and what is to be observed is explained in the following article.

What exactly are the functions of plagiarism testing?

In 2011 and 2012 there were two Plagiatsaffären in the center of the politicians Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg and Annette Schavan were. In response to these very media-effective scandals, the universities committed against the so-called copy & paste upgrade science. As a result, today plagiarism checks of Bachelor and other theses in most universities are part of the normal standard procedure. Even though these scanners currently have detection rates of “only” 60-70% (http://plagiat.htw-berlin.de/software/2010-2/), these are constantly being further developed and disseminated.

But before you even should ask if such programs bring anything, you should first understand how these tools work. Basically, these plagiarism checkers do the same thing as a human being: they search the text for sections that look suspicious and check them with a search engine. The verified posts and the results are then presented in a report. Depending on the tool, the individual steps can be performed better or worse. In summary, plagiarism checkers perform the following steps:

The search for suspicious places in the work: This is about which and how many sections are checked by the program. Checking all the words and their combinations is not feasible with today’s technology or it would take far too much time. Instead, plagiarism review tools mostly use language databases that rate rare words or word combinations higher than those found in every work. Ultimately, these tools increase the likelihood of finding a hit with a particular combination of words, and thus discovering a spot with plagiarism.

Checking with a search engine on the Internet: The identified sections of the thesis are now being used to search for relevant documents on the Internet. In most cases, this is done using the usual search engines such as Google or Bing and additionally scouring your own libraries. What Google and other search engines do not find that will most likely not be found by the plagiarism checker. However, exceptions must be noted here. In some cases, non-human visitors are blocked by individual websites. On the other hand, these tools have their own text banks that are not publicly accessible. Thus, a negative or positive result is not 100% sure.

Preparation of a test report: In the final step, all results are summarized. The sources identified with Google or Bing are read in and compared with the thesis. If the match is large enough, these jobs will be listed. This point is the only one where the different programs differ greatly. Because the presentation of the results and the possibilities vary depending on the tool. In the end, personal requirements and tastes still decide.

What is the practice?

But now for the practical test of a plagiarism checker. In this case we used the tool PlagAware for demonstration purposes. This is used by schools and students, but also pupils and students can carry out plagiarism checks on bachelor, master and seminar papers. Registration on the website is free.

After registration we will come directly to a page where we can upload our master thesis or master thesis. It should be noted that with the current technology these tools can only check texts and not pictures or diagrams. It’s best to just save your work with the text before you upload it. As a result, the file becomes significantly smaller and the examination progresses faster. In addition, you should do without PDF files because the text is split by the conversion from and to PDF.

Before you even think about uploading anything, you should read the fine print in the terms and conditions and the privacy policy. Is it possible to delete the file or is the document even transferred to the database of the provider? The international regulations are usually not subject to German data protection regulations. With German plagiarism checkers one can be sure that this is kept. Nevertheless, it does not hurt to read the terms and conditions here.

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