Why does the Scribbr Plagiarism Checker regard a source in my reference list as a similarity?
The Scribbr Plagiarism Checker detect similarities between your paper and a comprehensive database of web and publication content. Because many students write their references in the same way (for instance in APA Style), a plagiarism checker finds many similarities with these sources.
A reference found by the check is not a form of plagiarism. Therefore, there is no need to take action.
How to exclude your reference list from your results:
You can exclude matches from your reference list in your Plagiarism Check results. However, please be aware that this might not always work, depending on your document.
Step 1: Open your Plagiarism Check results.
Step 2: Click the settings button in the “Sources overview” (see picture below).
Step 3: Select exclude reference list. (see picture below).
Step 4: Click “Done.”
The Scribbr Plagiarism Checker compares your document against the largest plagiarism database in the world. It will detect any similarities with documents in that database.
However, you might be unsure if all of the sources you used are in that database – for example, because some of your sources are unpublished. In this case, you can make use of our Own Sources Checker. Here you can add all the sources you want to a private database and compare them with your own document.
you are not satisfied with your similarity score:The similarity score shows you what percentage of your text the software found in sources in the Turnitin database. That means we cannot change your score.
If you copied a fragment from a source and the Plagiarism Check did not find it, there are four possible explanations.
You paraphrased the fragment
If you paraphrased the original text by using different words and/or changing their order, the fragment will no longer be detected by the plagiarism software.
You can test this by searching the fragment in double quotation marks on Google. If no results are returned, you successfully paraphrased. Note that you still need to cite the source of the original idea.
However, if Google did return a result but our software did not highlight it, this might mean that…
The source is not part of our database
The Turnitin database used by the Scribbr Plagiarism Checker contains over 70 billion current and historical web pages and over 69 million journal articles and books. However, it’s possible that the source you used is an inaccessible publication or a student paper that is not part of our database.
Even if you’re certain that the source is publicly accessible, it might not yet have been added to the database. Turnitin is constantly updating its database by searching the internet and adding new publications. You can expect the source to be added in the near future.
The “Exclude Small Matches” number is set too high
By default, the plagiarism report shows similarities of 9 words or more. If the fragment you copied is shorter than that, it will not be shown in the report.
You can manually adjust the minimum length in order to show shorter similarities. Find out how to do that here.
Your document was not readable
If you uploaded a PDF file, it is possible that your document is not machine readable or was converted to an image instead of text. As a result, no similarities will be found.
To test if the text in your PDF is readable, you can copy and paste the document into a text editor (e.g. Microsoft Word, Notepad, TextEdit). If the text editor shows the same text as the PDF, then the text will also be readable by our plagiarism software.
If you know that you used a fragment, but it wasn’t found by our plagiarism software, it’s best to paraphrase or quote it anyway (and be sure to cite the source). It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
Scribbr recommends using the Plagiarism Checker after you have received your document and gone through all of the edits. Then you can upload the most recent version of your paper and avoid having to manually transfer changes from one document to another.
The Scribbr plagiarism report is similar to the report your supervisor will see, but there are two main differences:
Access to more detail and resources
The Scribbr Plagiarism Checker is optimized for students, which means that you will receive a detailed report with extra information and resources to fix and prevent plagiarism.
No access to private university databases
Your university might have a private database with submitted student papers that your document is compared with. The Scribbr Plagiarism Checker (or any other plagiarism checker) does not have access to this database.
However, many papers and theses are also published in public databases. The Scribbr Plagiarism Checker will compare your text with all documents that are in these public databases.
Yes, if you are interested in buying more than 25 plagiarism checks, please fill in the form below. Depending on the size of your request, you will be contacted by a representative of either Scribbr or our partner Turnitin.
Sometimes the Scribbr Plagiarism Check finds similarities that are not forms of plagiarism, such as references and correctly cited sources. You can exclude these irrelevant similarities from your total similarity score.
Step 1: Open your Plagiarism Check results.
Step 2: Click on the highlighted similarity that you would like to exclude.
Step 3: Click on the “Exclude” button on the right.
The similarity is now excluded from your total similarity score.
If you have excluded multiple sources from your total similarity score, then you might see an error message in your Plagiarism Check results. Unfortunately, this is a problem that we cannot fix at the moment.
If you encounter this issue, you can simply ignore all irrelevant similarities and subtract their score from your total similarity score. This allows you to calculate your actual similarity score by yourself.
If you accidentally uploaded the wrong document to the Plagiarism Checker, Scribbr will not refund you for this check or give you a discount for another check. The check starts automatically upon payment, which is why we cannot change your document anymore.
Your work should not contain any plagiarism. This means that even a score of 1% is too high.
However, contrary to popular belief, plagiarism checkers do not detect plagiarism, but similarities. Not all similarities found by the Scribbr Plagiarism Checker constitute plagiarism. Our check sometimes flags the following:
If you’re unable to view the Plagiarism Check results in your browser, please try the following two solutions:
1. Are you using Google Chrome?
We’ve found that using Google Chrome resolves most issues related to the results page. First, try using Google Chrome to open your Plagiarism Check results. If you are already using Google Chrome, or if this solution does not work, then proceed to the second solution.
2. Contact support for a PDF copy of the results.
If the first solution doesn’t work, you can contact our support team via chat or email and request a PDF copy of the results via email. This way, you can still review and process the results. We apologize for the inconvenience.
The Scribbr Plagiarism Checker checks your document for plagiarism once per upload. We recommend that you follow two simple steps to thoroughly revise all text snippets that might be plagiarized.
By following those steps, you can be confident that you have removed all plagiarism from your document. It is therefore not necessary to reupload your document for a new Plagiarism Check. If you would still like to perform a second or third check, you can purchase each new check at the regular price.
Step 1: Review every similarity found by the Plagiarism Check
Think about whether or not the match makes sense to you:
Is the match a text snippet (e.g. a series of words or a whole sentence) that you have copied from a publication without citing the source? Then move on to step 2.
Step 2: Revise each potentially plagiarized text snippet
There are two ways you can fix a similarity:
Paraphrasing: Rewrite the snippet in your own words. Be careful: Simply rearranging the sentence or replacing a few words with synonyms is not sufficient to remove plagiarism. It’s best to delete the similarity and write the idea again from scratch to ensure the phrasing is completely original.
Quoting: If you want to use the author’s exact words, put the text snippet in quotation marks.
Whether you paraphrase or quote, a citation is always required. Do you need more help revising your similarities? Have a look at our step-by-step guide.
Horváth and Kovács (2020) argue that “plagiarism is often a matter of confusion rather than deception” (p. 4).
A recent study of student plagiarism found that “plagiarism is often a matter of confusion rather than deception”(Horváth & Kovács, 2020, p. 4).
Quotes over 40 words
If the quote contains 40 words or more, format it as a block quote, which begins on a new line and is indented in its entirety. Include an in-text citation after the period.
Sometimes it is necessary to quote a source at length:
Block quoting is particularly useful when you want to comment on an author’s language or present an argument that you will then critique. By setting the quote on a new line and indenting it, the passage is clearly marked apart from your own words. Therefore, no quotation marks are necessary. (O’Connor, 2019, p. 38)
No worries! This error does not influence the accuracy of your Plagiarism Check results.
If you have an automatic table of contents and/or list of figures and tables, then you might see an error message instead of the page numbers. The error message might look like this: “Error! Bookmark not defined.”
Unfortunately, this is something we cannot fix. Our check may flag these error messages as similarities. You can ignore these similarities.
By default, the plagiarism report only shows similarities of 9 words or more.
You can change the minimum length of a similarity yourself in order to exclude small matches from the plagiarism report.
What is the best value for the “Exclude Small Matches” setting?
The ideal minimum length of similarities is different per case. In general, we believe that setting the minimum to 8 words, results in too many small similarities that are unlikely to be plagiarism. That’s why the default value is set to 9.
However, if you believe that your document contains many small similarities that are not plagiarism (like these), you can try changing the setting to 10 or 11 to get a more accurate view of the potential plagiarism in your document.
Proceed with caution, since increasing the number might hide potential plagiarism in your report.
How can I change this “Exclude Small Matches” setting?
1) Click on the gear icon on the top right of the plagiarism report
2) Fill in your desired minimum similarity length
3) Click “Done” to go back to the “Sources overview”
When should I change the “Exclude Small Matches” value?
For most people, there is no need to change this value. However, if you want more control over the similarities shown in your report and you think that most of the small similarities are not relevant, you can increase this number.
Please proceed with caution, since increasing this number might hide potential plagiarism in your report. Decreasing the value is not recommended.
What happens when you decrease the “Exclude Small Matches”?
If you decrease this number, shorter similarities will be included in the report. This means you will see more similarities and a higher similarity percentage.
However, most of these extra similarities are unlikely to be instances of plagiarism. Short similarities are often the result of common phrases that appear in many different sources.
What happens when you increase the “Exclude Small Matches”?
If you increase this number, only longer similarities will be included in the report. This means you will see fewer similarities and a lower similarity percentage.
Since the similarities are longer, the similarities you now see are more likely to be plagiarism.
However, by excluding the smaller similarities, you might miss some instances of potential plagiarism.
Ask our team
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