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If you carefully and adequately paraphrase and quote in a given school assignment or a master's essay or thesis (i.e. act ethically), should you use a software or a website to check for plagiarism? Is there a need for such an act? You know, 'just in case'?

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  • did you paraphrase and also cite the source? An additional consideration is that, whoever you submit your paper to will be checking for plagiarism, so it would be your best interest to submit to the same (or similar) type computer programs that they will, just in case your paraphrasing is not different enough, or if you used 3 words in succession that comes directly from the paper you are paraphrasing. Jun 25, 2016 at 16:00
  • That's my point; everything is done perfectly.
    – R. AS.
    Jun 25, 2016 at 16:15

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Being certain that you quote correctly is pretty straight-forward (if it's not your words, use quotes), but learning to paraphrase well is difficult for some people. I think this may be more often the case for those who are not native English speakers: my observation may be less about language than about differences in educational culture.

For a person who doesn't have confidence that they are paraphrasing sufficiently differently for typical scientific writing standards, I could see that running through a plagiarism checker might be useful as an educational tool. Much more effectively, however, such a person might want to work with a trustworthy writing service (most American universities provide something of this sort free to their students) to get an independent evaluation of the quality of their paraphrasing and help in improving it if needed.

Once you have enough experience to be confident in your ability to paraphrase, however, I would not bother to do any sort of double-check unless you have an extremely nervous personality and it will help you to sleep at night.

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After completing an assignment where references were cited and paraphrased, it may be beneficial to run your paper through plagiarism checking software for the following reasons:

  • You can be relatively confident that your teacher will be performing plagiarism checking themselves, and by performing your own due-diligence, you will be more prepared to understand what they will see. Perhaps a sentence in your essay will be flagged by the software as plagiarism. By receiving this information before submitting the essay, you can modify and/or cite this sentence.
  • You may believe your essay to be 'perfect' but in a multi-page essay it is easy to make a mistake, miss a citation, or paraphrase a little 'too closely' to the original. By performing a plagiarism check you will protect yourself in this situation.
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  • What is a "plagiarism check?" Using a computer to compare your piece with someone elses?
    – Tom Au
    Jul 6, 2016 at 18:04
  • @TomAu a 'plagiarism check' in this context referred to teacher's use of software to check for plagiarism, such as www.TurnItIn.com or similar websites. Jul 6, 2016 at 18:17

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