Considering the ethical and professional implications of self plagiarism, it is very useful to check new manuscript against old ones (which are under review and not yet published) to decrease self plagiarism. In a white paper by ithenticate (download from http://www.ithenticate.com/self-plagiarism-free-white-paper), one way to avoid self plagiarism is to significantly paraphrase those text which are need to be used in new article. However, I have difficulties in identifying the similarity percentage of my current work against yet-unpublished works. Online tools (that I know) check the manuscript against published works. I have 3 journal papers, 1 is published, 1 is under review, and 1 is under preparation. Now, I need to check the third one to see the similarity score. Any suggestion?

  • Thanks all of you for your fruitful suggestions. However, I need to check now, because I am in a situation where I need to check what is the similarity score. I checked recommended tools in sourceforge, but no clue. They are just not working. thanks for help.
    – Espanta
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 16:22

3 Answers 3


First suggestion: Never copy-paste material from earlier works, always write everything from scratch.

This prevents you from moving critical passages from one paper to the other. It is of course still possible to end up with a similar or even identical sentence by accident, particularly if you describe a method or something similar. If you end up using the same method for several papers it is also possible to simply reference your original description in subsequent papers. The Ithenticate white paper mentioned by you provides good advice. Yuo can slso visit the COPE (Committee On Publication Ethics) web site and search for self-plagiarism.

Second suggestion: Use the softwares such as iThenticate, turnitin or the like depending what you are looking for. But, I would not blindly just look at percentages of overlap but focus on where the overlaps occur. If it is in the methods section describing a series of steps ina process it is clearly not as critical as if it is in the discussion or conclusions. If you find overlap and you can identify what it is, then go to my first suggestion and critically review if you need to say it again.


Does the paper make an original disciplinary contribution to scholarly knowledge? Has any reused material been rewritten from scratch? Has the reused material been cited in relation to the paper under review?

If so, it should be fine. The first one is the big one, I assume that people with a doctorate in their discipline should know whether this has been achieved. One nostrum I use is meeting at least one of the three: new evidence set, new theoretical tools, new analysis.

As an example of this nostrum: Case A organisation demonstrating with Marxist class analysis concept Q.

  • Case B with Marxism demonstrating Q is novel
  • Case A with Patriarchy analysis demonstrating Q is novel
  • Case A with Marxism demonstrating R is novel
  • Short Question: "One nostrum I use is on of the three" <- do you mean 'one' or like 'on all'?
    – superuser0
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 9:39
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    Certainly new manuscript are logically providing original contribution, however, it is time consuming to write some general text from the scratch, so people just copy and paraphrase it. It is good idea to support the text with reference to the under review paper. However, having a tool as Anthony mentioned to check the score would be fine.
    – Espanta
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 9:57
  • 1
    @T.F. I've expanded the answer and hope this assists. Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 10:03
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    it is time consuming to write some general text from the scratch, so people just copy and paraphrase it. — But of course you didn't do that. Right?
    – JeffE
    Commented Jun 7, 2013 at 3:18
  • @JeffE, No, I DID Not. If I did, I could not publish in top journals (though you are not really fan of journals). I am fast in writing (Though English is not my first language) and do not need to copy & paste text from old papers. I dislike to copy and paraphrase old sentences since every time I write, the texts are more cohesive and interesting. But (my) brain sometimes generates similar sentences. That's why I need to make sure such identical sentences do not impact on my writings.
    – Espanta
    Commented Jan 4, 2014 at 7:27

Sourceforge offers a few free tools aimed at detecting plagiarism (see http://sourceforge.net/directory/os:linux/freshness:recently-updated/?q=plagiarism) for various platforms.

  • I check these tools and found them useless in the domain I need. They are not free and their plagiarism is checked against published papers in the literature. Not what I need.
    – Espanta
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 10:34
  • 2
    Some of these tools also include a hidden agreement in the registration process, that uploaded papers can be used by the company that owns that tool. This is for example true for the 'Viper' tool. Be cautious!
    – superuser0
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 12:18

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