Verdict: In the three instances where the scanner detected that plagiarism had taken place, this can’t be corroborated because the suspected source was not identified – theoretically, they could all have been wrong.
|What are the subscription options? e.g. free, paid only, paid and free. If paid options, what length of subscription/price structure is offered?||Online checker may not be used without a subscription. No trial or free credits. Single Paper – $7.95, 1 Paper Credit,3 Resubmissions per document;|
Semester Plan – $29.95, 5 Paper Credits,
3 Resubmissions per document;
Graduate Plan – $99.95, 20 Paper Credits,
3 Resubmissions per document.
|Maximum word count? (if any)||Maximum 5,000 words.|
|Resubmissions allowed? If so, is this limited?||Three resubmissions allowed.|
|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;
|File types supported E.g. doc, docx, rtf, open office, pdfs, ppts||Several file types supported including .ODT, .TXT, .DOC and .DOCX.|
|Extra features? E.g. grammar checker, spelling checker||The scanner also features a grammar checker.|
|Support offered? E.g. phone, email etc||There is an extensive FAQ section and a “contact” link tucked away in the footer of the website.|
|Report / results|
|Type of report Downloadable? Shareable?||Reports are generated within the browser and these may be downloaded and shared.|
|Side by side comparison to plagiarism?||No.|
|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 that plagiarism had taken place but did not identify the source – see general observations.|
|Basic plagiarism – copied and pasted from an online pdf||Detected. The online scanner correctly identified that plagiarism had taken place but did not identify the source – see general observations.|
|Some words removed – copied and pasted from a website source||Detected. The online scanner correctly identified that plagiarism had taken place but did not identify the source – see general observations.|
|Some words changed – copied and pasted from a website source||Not detected. The online scanner did not identify the website 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 correctly identified 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?|
|WriteCheck offers a range of online services; a plagiarism checker, a grammar checker and one-to-one personal tuition, although the first two options are bundled together and the tuition is a bolt-on feature. Its website has a very professional edge about it and it contains a lot of information across its pages. Its blog is extensive, containing hundreds of blog entries and, although the ordering of them appears quite random, some of them are particularly interesting. Similarly, its FAQ section is wide-ranging, as is its Review section where one student cheerily comments, “WriteCheck is even better than a private tutor and much cheaper. Thank you, WriteCheck!” It’s unlikely even the editors of the website could have written a more positive review…Its combined plagiarism and grammar scanner is the central feature of the website and, of course, doesn’t come free. Users are required to sign up and subscribe to one of three packages, the cheapest costing $7.95 which buys one scan of up to 5,000 words with three resubmissions. However, you’re not paying for the one-to-one tuition at this point, so the $7.95 only buys a total of four computer-generated scans – they’re not giving anything away!|
The scanner itself is as professional looking as the website it belongs to and is simple to use. A document can be uploaded using the upload facility and once uploaded it works its magic—or unleashes hell—on your submission.
The much lauded grammar checker is, in a word, stupid. In one example, it suggests placing a comma in entirely the wrong place; in another, it suggests that a full stop is missing from the end of a sentence which contains an exclamation mark – it’s not smart enough to realise that one form of punctuation replaces another because full stops certainly don’t follow exclamation marks!. In short, if Gregory thinks this is better than a home-tutor, you’ll never want to receive a letter from him.
The plagiarism scanner didn’t perform well either, not just because it was ineffective, but because it doesn’t show the suspected source of the plagiarised content. This in itself seems bizarre – what’s the point of identifying plagiarism if it can’t be proven? A possible answer rests in its FAQ section:
What is the difference between WriteCheck and Turnitin?
WriteCheck is designed for students to check grammar, style, usage, mechanics, spelling and originality while Turnitin is used for instructors to check for originality and grammar, facilitate peer review and enable online grading of student’s written work.
Both WriteCheck and its sister web-site Turnitin identify plagiarism but, if you also want the source, you’ll have to fork out for Turnitin as well. It’s notable that the words “plagiarism scanner” are not used in the answer, although they are used on the website’s homepage and throughout: it’s disingenuous to say the least.
During tests, the scanner only detected plagiarism in three of the six sample documents – scoring about the same as some free online checkers. It spotted an entirely plagiarised website, a plagiarised pdf and a plagiarised piece where some of the words had been removed. It did not spot plagiarised work where some of the words had been changed or in entirely paraphrased work, nor did it detect the plagiarism of an ebook. However, it should be stressed that, in the three instances where it did detect that plagiarism had taken place, this can’t be corroborated because the suspected source was not identified – theoretically, they could all have been wrong.
The same “technology” which powers WriteCheck also powers Turnitin, and as the results of the tests carried out on WriteCheck were far from satisfactory, there seems little reason so spend money on either product.