Review of PlagScan plagiarism software
Verdict: The results are decidedly mixed for PlagScan – despite its complex algorithms there are entirely free online scanners which performed better in tests.
|What are the subscription options? e.g. free, paid only, paid and freeIf paid options, what length of subscription/price structure is offered?||Online scanner available on a trial basis which will allow the user approximately 2 searches (depending on the length of the submissions). Beyond this, a subscription package is required which is charged at:|
€9 – 500 credits;
€19 – 1250 credits;
€29 – 2000 credits;
€69 – 5000 credits.
500 credits is equivalent to around 50,000 words or approximately 200 pages.
|Maximum word count? (if any)||Maximum 30,000 words.|
|Resubmissions allowed? If so, is this limited?||Each resubmission or scan will deduct credits, the cost of this varies depending on the package subscribed to.|
|Type of scanner E.g. software download, copy and paste, upload document online. Say if multiple options are offered.||Two options available: “Copy and paste’ online scanner; File uploader.|
|Sources checked E.g. internet, any specific journal databases mentioned, any electronic book databases such as Google docs mentioned, past submissions from other students etc||Website – no words altered; Website – some words removed; Website – some words changed; Website – fully paraphrased; Online pdf; Electronic book.|
|File types supported E.g. doc, docx, rtf, open office, pdfs, ppts||Several file types including .DOC, DOCX, .ODT, .HTML, .PDF & .ZIP|
|Extra features? E.g. grammar checker, spelling checker||None.|
|Support offered? E.g. phone, email etc||There is a “contact’ page which provides contact email addresses and telephone numbers (note, the office is based in Germany).|
|Report / results|
|Type of report Downloadable? Shareable?||Reports are generated within the website’s browser and these can be downloaded into various formats and shared.|
|Side by side comparison to plagiarism?||Yes.|
|Accuracy of results – Which sections were detected and which were not (make sure the correct source is identified)|
|Basic plagiarism – copied and pasted from a website source||Detected. The online scanner correctly identified the webpage which contained material that had been plagiarised.|
|Basic plagiarism – copied and pasted from an online pdf||Not detected. The online scanner did not identify the online pdf which contained material that had been plagiarised.|
|Some words removed – copied and pasted from a website source||Detected. The online scanner correctly identified the webpage which contained material that had been plagiarised.|
|Some words changed – copied and pasted from a website source||Detected. The online scanner correctly identified the webpage which contained material that had been plagiarised|
|Full paraphrasing – copied and pasted from a website source||Not detected. The online scanner did not identify the website which contained material that had been plagiarised.|
|Basic plagiarism – copied and pasted from an electronic book||Not detected. The online scanner did not identify the electronic book which contained material that had been plagiarised.|
|General observations Ease of use, overall experience. If other features were included (e.g. spelling, grammar check), how easy were they to use and how useful were they?|
|PlagScan.com inspires confidence, even if its name doesn’t trip off the tongue. Its website is smart and tidy – it’s clearly laid out and not at all overwhelming. The developers of the plagiarism scanner seem genuinely proud of it – of course a lot of similar websites play themselves up – yet with this one there seems to be genuine sincerity behind the wording. For example, its developers are so confident its users will be satisfied that they offer a money-back guarantee. Additionally, its home page features news that it has been rated as the number 1 scanner by TopTenReviews which, after some checking, does not appear to be affiliated with the website in anyway.Its various subscriptions are a little confusing and quite technical. Users buy credits in Euros and these are converted into PlagPoints, but, as its Pricing Policy page demonstrates, this is as simple as it gets:The “PlagPoint” : Costs are determined by the number of words in a document. We settle this via a credit point system, in which 1 PlagPoint () allows the analysis of 100 words or fraction thereof, while at least 10 are consumed per document (1-1000 words = 10, 1001-1100 words = 11, 1101-1200 words = 12, etc.).|
However, to the website’s credit, it gives away 25 “PlagPoints” to every user who registers with them (and this in itself is a simple process). The free credits are equivalent to scanning up to 2,500 words which, by comparison to other subscription based websites, is pretty generous.
Documents are uploaded online and these can be stacked up so multiple searches can take place at once – a handy feature, and at a glance it’s possible to see which documents have passed and which have failed. Each scan takes about a minute for a small sample of text, no bigger than one large paragraph. Clicking on each result creates a separate report within the browser and these can be downloaded and shared with ease.
After such a build-up it is somewhat disappointing that the scanner only detected plagiarism in three out of the six test documents. It detected blanket plagiarism, where none of the words had been changed, as well as in documents where some of the words had been omitted and where words had been removed altogether. It did spot that an upload had plagiarised an online pdf; however, if failed to correctly identify the website it was taken from and therefore failed the test (plagiarism must, after all, be proven). It also failed to detect an entirely paraphrased submission and wasn’t able to detect the plagiarism of an electronic book.
Looking back through the analysis of the scanner carried out by TopTenReviews, PlagScan is awarded 9/10 for accuracy, yet in our results it scored an equivalent 6/10. One possible reason for this is that TopTenReviews perhaps only tested the scanner using samples taken from websites, overlooking online pdfs and electronic books; however, students cheat using a variety of online sources so it’s important to include these in any tests being carried out.
The results therefore are decidedly mixed for PlagScan – despite its complex algorithms there are entirely free online scanners which performed better in tests – accordingly, if checking for plagiarism, you might want to consider taking up PlagScan’s kind offer of free credits – but also run your paper through a few other free scanners too.