This web site provides software for detecting the reuse of written language across thousands or even millions of documents. In addition to helping to reduce the impact of plagiarism on our world, that software can study the migration of the written word through many interesting processes of civilization and society. As an academic, I am always interested in collaborations that will lead to peer-reviewed publications. If you have an interesting project that involves sifting through vast collections of documents for reused language, please contact me about a joint endeavor.
— Lou Bloomfield, Professor of Physics, University of Virginia
Plagiarism is the misrepresentation of authorship. Typically, words and ideas conceived by one person are attributed to another person. Plagiarism is a form of intellectual theft or fraud and it undermines the intellectual economy that values ideas, words, and understanding. Even when an act of plagiarism appears superficially a victimless crime, it nonetheless devalues the currency of human thought and thereby weakens society.
In the most common form of plagiarism, one author’s words are inserted verbatim in the work of a second author, without quotation, acknowledgement, or attribution. But there are many other forms of plagiarism, including some that are often accepted or even encouraged by society, notably ghostwriting, speech-writing, and paraphrasing.
Plagiarism is not a black-and-white issue because many of our ideas and words derive from those of others, and what constitutes true intellectual theft or fraud often involves some degree of subjectivity. Moreover, each context has its own rules regarding the need for accurate attribution of authorship and those rules are not always obvious to everyone. Reasonable people may even disagree about those rules, so defining them clearly and explicitly is always a good idea.
What this Site Provides:
WCopyfind is an open source windows-based program that explores a collection of documents, looking for matching language. If you have a collection of documents that you think might contain plagiarized content, you can check them quickly with this free software.
Lou Bloomfield’s writings about issues relating to plagiarism, writing, scholarship, authorship, credentialing, integrity, and ethics.