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Law Library Services for Journals: How to Detect Plagiarism

How to Detect Plagiarism

It is important to remember that an author can copy from any type of material, including, but not limited to: monographs, articles, newspapers, working papers, reports, cases, statutes, and administrative regulations. Therefore, when you try to verify or locate any possible sources of plagiarism, you need to search in all types of source materials.

Start with the article itself
Read through the entire article and identify any text that seems to be inconsistent from the rest of the article in terms of tone, structure, and choice of words, as well as any obvious grammatical mistakes, typos, or different fonts. Look for anything that seems like it does not come from the same author.

Check the cited sources in the article
Many times, when an author plagiarizes from another source(s), including both primary and secondary sources, he or she may cite the source(s) at least once or twice. Compare the article with the sources that it cites to see if there are any similarities.

Search in full-text journal databases
Once you identify a particular part of the text that looks suspicious, you should enter that text into a full-text journal database as a keyword search. Full-text law and non-law journal databases are available through the Law Library's E-Resources page or the Graduate Library's Search Tools page. Below is a brief list of some databases you may want to check:

Search in books
Authors may plagiarize material from books. Google Books is a very helpful tool to help identify where authors copy from a book chapter or an essay from a published book. In addition, commercial databases, such as HeinOnline, Lexis, Westlaw, and CCH IntelliConnect, provide books and treatises online as well. E-Books databases, such as eBrary, can also help you identify any potential plagiarism. For a list of E-books databases subscribed to by the Law Library subscribes to, please see E-Book Collections.

Search primary sources of law
Authors may also copy from primary sources of law, such as cases, statutes, or regulations without appropriate citations. Therefore, be sure to search relevant primary law databases in Lexis, Westlaw, HeinOnline and ProQuest Congressional as well. 

Use plagiarism detection software
The Library provides access to the plagiarism detection software, iThenticate.

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