How to troll the JISC plagiarism checker

I was one of the students who took part in the development of the JISC plagiarism checker (JPC) – on the innovative Multimedia Studies degree run by plagiarism expert Doctor Mike Reddy. Based on what I know about the system I thought it might be interesting to suggest to students how to force some false positives in their submissions – not that I condone doing so!:

  • Dealing with block quotes. The JPC checks for text in your essay against ones in existing databases and also how that text is formatted. If you get a block of text from another work and put it inside quotations and ensuring you cite it with the page number as is the norm, there is something you can do to alert the JPC:
    • Put that block of text into another document;
    • Format it with a custom style type;
    • Copy and paste it back into the original document; and
    • Manually change the fonts to match the one in the document while keeping the style tag from the other document.
  • Dealing with links and citations. The JPC checks to see if there are any anchor tags in the document, such as where someone has lifted text from a website and pasted it directly into work so that the hyperlinks are still in the document but not visible. There is something you can do with your properly cited document to trigger the JPC:
    • Find the hyperlink or DOI link for the paper or book you are citing. You might want to use the links to Amazon with your affiliate code;
    • Selected your citation – e.g. Bishop (2007) – and add the anchor tag as a hyperlink; and
    • Manually change the text so that it does not look like a hyperlink but as a normal part of the text.
  • Exposing your tutor. The most damaging kind of trolling you can do with the JPC is to plagiarise your tutor’s notes. If it is their original work it is not a good idea, but if they basing it on others’ works without crediting them (i.e. plagiarising them) then quoting it as your own and justifying it by saying you copied their notes is one of the most daring ways to troll the JPC. There is an urban myth that this actually happened to one tutor and if you have the time to search for any part of their notes that are online but which they haven’t given a citation for then this could be the Maximum trolling possible with the JPC.

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