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A plagiarism search tool like Docol©c is able to find and to record similarities of a checked document with other documents. However, a reliable statement if a checked document contains plagiarized portions is not possible by such a tool alone. This decision can only be made by a person who has reviewed the document and the result of a plagiarism check, such as the Docol©c-Report. The Docol©c-Report provides valuable information about similarities that may confirm plagiarism suspicions. In the following we give detailed information about how to use and interpret the information given in the Docol©c-Report.
The header of the Docol©c-Report includes the number of checked and found sentences as well as their proportion as a percentage. This percentage provides a first clue if and which amount similarities with other documents were found in the checked document. However, this percentage does not provide enough information to decide whether the document is plagiarized or not. Firstly, this value refers to the whole document and does not show, for instance, if the similarities are evenly distributed over the whole document. Secondly, this value does not consider the amount of similarity within the found sentences. Nevertheless, this value gives a first clue and experience shows that values below 10% usually indicate no plagiarism. In these cases similarities often occur due to random similarities. But the existence of plagiarized portions cannot be ruled out if this value shows only 10% or below. The higher this value the higher is the number of found sentences and the higher is the probability that parts of the document are plagiarized.
The distribution of found similarities, which are shown in the overview bar within the Docol©c-Report, provides further clues if the checked document contains plagiarized portions. If the found sentences are concentrated in a certain part of the document, the probability that this part is plagiarized is higher.
The list of reference documents provides further information in order to evaluate whether the document contains plagiarized portions or not. If this list contains only some documents in which a lot of sentences were found the probability that the document is plagiarized is higher. If this list contains only documents with a low amount of found sentences, the probability that the document is plagiaries is lower.
Not every similarity is also a plagiarized portion. Randomly, single sentences may be similar to sentences in other documents. However, if several consecutive sentences are similar to each other they can be classified as plagiarism. Furthermore, it needs to be taken into account that Docol©c does not try to identify citations, as citation conventions differ largely across several disciplines which makes a reliable detection of cited portions practically impossible. Quoted portions are marked like other found sentences within the Docol©c-Report and the user needs to decide whether a found sentence is cited correctly or not.
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