Search API Price Hike Impacts Plagiarism Checking

When PaperRater first "opened its doors", we were excited to find that Yahoo offered a cost effective Search API to power our free proofreader's plagiarism checking technology.  Google later offered a free API as well, and Bing too would eventually jump on board.  In just a few years, the search API landscape changed dramatically with Yahoo dropping out completely and Google replacing its free search API with the most expensive option (read prohibitively expensive). Fortunately, Bing remained steady offering an option of decent price and solid results, which granted us another couple years of free plagiarism checking integrated into our automated proofreader and grammar checker.  Yay!

I can say with great conviction that offering high quality tools for free is a wonderful way to spend my days, which is why it pained me to receive notification recently that Bing was increasing the cost of their search API.  Moreover, because the specific search package we are using will no longer be offered, the cost of the API to which we are forced to migrate is 2.5X higher than the current pricing. The bottom line of this very sad news is that we can no longer bundle free plagiarism checking with our automated proofreader.  Only premium members will have access to plagiarism checking when using the automated proofreader.  The good news for our users is that we have no plans to increase the cost of our premium service even in spite of the cost hike we are facing, and we will continue to offer plagiarism checking as part of our free premium EDU service for teachers to use with their classrooms. PaperRater also still offers our standalone (w/o automated proofreading) plagiarism checker for free.  We will continue to work at our mission of offering the best free automated proofreader and for those interested in additional features, thank you for supporting us via our premium membership.  Use the button below to learn more about our premium subscriptions.

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Feed a Hungry Child While Improving Your Writing

Better Writing + Feeding Hungry Kids

Grammar Check
UPDATE 12/27/2016: We raised over $1000 for food-insecure children! Way to go!

For the month of December, we want to empower patrons of PaperRater to make a difference in the world of someone in need while improving your writing.  So today we are announcing a partnership with GO Pantry, a charity that feeds needy children who slip through the cracks of other social institutions and programs within the United States.  Schools do a fabulous job of feeding children who are food-insecure via free or reduced lunch programs, but what about weekends and the summer?  The sad reality is that many of the most at risk children go without food for extended periods of time when school is not in session.  Through food drives, corporate sponsors, volunteers, and charitable individuals, GO Pantry sends "GO Boxes" and "GO Bags" full of food to children identified by their school as being the most at risk.

Make a Difference

If you've been on the fence about signing up for PaperRater, now is the best time to join!  For every new subscriber in December, we will donate $5 to GO Pantry.  Imagine the smiles that you put on the faces of children in need.  What could be better than that?

Learn more about GO Pantry   |   Learn more about the PaperRater checker

Can paraphrasing be considered plagiarism?

Every writing task usually implies reading. Whether it's an academic paper, blog post or newspaper article, it rarely gets written from scratch. Even subject matter experts consult sources and other experts before writing.

In this situation, how do you draw the line between original and borrowed ideas? And if an external text has been rewritten in other words rather than simply copied, is it still plagiarized? Finally, do well-knownfacts require citation? In this article, we’ll give the answers to these and other important questions.
What is a paraphrase?
According to Merriam-Webster, a paraphrase is “a restatement of a text, passage, or work giving the meaning in another form.” In other words, authors who want to paraphrase someone's ideas should interpret them in a new way, yet keep the original meaning.
In academic papers, paraphrasing is preferred over quoting. By avoiding copying the exact wording, students get (and demonstrate) a deeper understanding of the subject. It makes sense to use quotation instead of paraphrasing only when an original text is so impactful that it would lose its value when rewritten.
Paraphrased text is plagiarized when
1. It doesn't contain proper acknowledgement. By re-expressing someone's idea in our own words, we don't make it ours. A reader should be able to distinguish our insights from those that belong to someone else. The right way to do that is to provide proper attribution to the relevant source. If authors don't give credit, they end up taking it and thus plagiarizing, whether it's been done intentionally or by accident.

2. It's too close to the original version. Paraphrasing is a fresh expression of an idea, not a trivial rewording. It's not enough to change some words here and there and leave the main text unaltered. Instead, authors should completely restate the original passage using their own vocabulary.

Superficial changes often consist of a simple synonym replacement or altered sentence order while keeping the original sentence structure. In academic writing, this situation may show that students don't have a significant understanding of the subject.

If an author fails to articulate an idea in a new way, then he is plagiarizing even if he's provided a reference. As a rule, good rewriting implies that there are no identical sequences consisting of 7 or more words. When checking for plagiarism with PaperRater's plagiarism checker, you can find a list of such matching phrases.
Paraphrased text is NOT plagiarized when
1. It's formatted properly. On the contrary, paraphrasing cannot be considered plagiarism when applied correctly. This means that an author should both cite an external source and use as few words as possible from it.

Quite often, rephrasing leads to a reinvention of the original idea. Therefore, when checking provided sources, it's a good idea to see if an author has actually succeeded in conveying the original meaning.

2. It describes widely-known facts

It's pretty clear that ideas and interpretations need to be cited, but what about well-known facts that can't be attributed to anyone? Let's say a paper contains this sentence: "Gravity was discovered by Sir Isaac Newton, an English mathematician and physicist who lived from 1642-1727." Yes, there are many similar and even identical phrases on the Internet, yet it cannot be considered plagiarized, as it's common knowledge.

While there's no clear boundary on what common knowledge is, the two general criteria are ubiquity and anonymity. Before considering a fact common knowledge, try to find it on five independent and reputable sources. If none of them gives a credit to a certain author, then it's common knowledge.
The bottom line
Paraphrasing can be both plagiarism and a way to avoid it. When correctly cited and expressed in original words, paraphrasing is absolutely legit and even welcome. If any of these conditions hasn't been met, then plagiarism has taken place. For example, if an author provides a reference but his language is too close to the original, it's plagiarism. Alternatively, even if an author distills a borrowed idea into his own words, he still needs to give credit rather than take it.

At the same time, paraphrased well-known facts can be used without citation and shouldn't be considered plagiarism, as they convey common knowledge. Practically everything we know and write about is somehow based on these facts. That's why when getting a plagiarism report, it's wise to check if matching phrases express stolen ideas or well-known facts.

This blog article was written by Linda Emerson from iSpringSolutions, an e-Learning software development company.

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Announcing Free Premium EDU Subscriptions

Today is a historic moment in time for PaperRater.  It represents the convergence of our mission with the work we have put in to offer accessible automated writing instruction.  We began this mission several years ago by unrolling our AI proofreading and plagiarism checker for free -- something unheard of at the time.  We take the next step on our journey today by publicly announcing a 100% free subscription to our premium service available to high schools and middle schools.  Teachers and students can now get state of the art grammar checking, plagiarism detection, automated scoring, and automated writing instruction for FREE.  To schools that are already paying for similar services, this represents an opportunity to save thousands of dollars per year.  For institutions that could not afford the excessive costs of automated proofreading and plagiarism check, we now provide a free way to tap into these benefits of an indispensable tool for the modern writer.

How it Works

Our EDU subscriptions reduce the hassle that schools typically encounter when setting up services for their classrooms.  Our system does not require any logins, student rosters, or admin accounts, yet still provides premium benefits to both students and teachers.

Better than Basic
The premium service allows you to submit longer documents, receive enhanced plagiarism detection, access premium-only modules, and more.  Competing companies are charging as much as $8 per document for these same premium-level benefits.  Your students and teachers can gain access to this technology for free. To get started, email us with your contact info, name of institution, and number of students; and we will provide you with all the info you need to begin using our premium service.


Q:  How long are you offering this for free?  Is this just some sort of temporary promotion?
A:  Our intention is that all schools that sign up will be "grandfathered" in to the free premium service.  Eventually, we may stop allowing new schools to sign up, but that should not affect any school that has already taken advantage of this offer.

Q:  What is the difference between the Free Premium and the Basic membership?
A:  For schools, both are free and ad-supported, but the Premium accepts longer documents, includes better plagiarism detection, and additional benefits listed here.

Q:  Are there limits on the size of the educational institution?
A:  We welcome schools of all sizes.  We work with high schools of 500 students and entire school districts with 10,000 students.  All are welcome to signup.

Q:  This sounds neat, but I'm still confused by the whole thing.  What can I do to understand better how this works?
A:  If you are new to our service, please use our basic service first to understand how it works and what it does.  Missing premium features will be posted visibly throughout the basic service.  The Premium EDU subscription will function similarly to the basic service but with the premium benefits mentioned here.  More documentation on the Premium EDU service is here.

Additional Questions

Please don't hesitate to contact us with any additional questions that you have.