Using Google to Detect Plagiarism

Google is one of several Internet search engines that may help instructors locate the source of suspicious work.  Here are the steps to take:

  1. Identify and copy a phrase or a sentence that looks/sounds like it might not have been written by the student.

  2. Open the Google Web site ( and paste the sentence into the search line.  If you want to look for the exact words in the order in which they appear in the paper, enter quotation marks around the phrase or sentence. 

  3. If you don't want the exact line (the student might have added a word or reversed the order of words) then just type in the sentence or phrase without quotation marks.  You will get instances where the words appear, but not in the order that the student presented them.

  4. If your first effort does not result in any matches, continue to look for other word clusters from the student's paper that seen suspicious.

  5. Because each search engine looks at a somewhat different database, try a second or third search if you are unsuccessful with Google.



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