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Avoiding Plagiarism

What is plagiarism?

Purdue Policy III.A.2 Research Misconduct defines plagiarism as “The appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit. Plagiarism does not include disputes about authorship or credit.” (see:

How can I avoid inadvertent plagiarism in my writings?

Authors can avoid plagiarism by maintaining detailed records of their sources of information; being careful to identify direct quotations of the words of others using quotation marks; when not quoting directly, using proper paraphrasing technique, and always citing the sources of quoted or paraphrased content. As a further precaution, final or near final drafts of manuscripts can be reviewed using software, like iThenticate, that identifies text in a document that is identical or nearly identical to text in the previously published literature. Additional guidance to help authors avoid inadvertent plagiarism is available on Purdue’s Online Writing Lab website and the DHHS Office of Research Integrity website.

What is the new Graduate School requirement?

Effective September 1, 2014, Purdue’s Graduate School requires that all theses and dissertations be reviewed using the iThenticate software and any issues identified by the software addressed prior to deposit of the final thesis or dissertation with the Graduate School. Satisfaction of this requirement will be certified by both major professor and degree candidate by certifying the following statement on the Electronic Thesis Acceptance Form [ETAF]:

“Further, I certify that to the best of my knowledge this document is the original work of the author and all content from other authors appearing in the thesis/dissertation has been properly quoted and attributed. The author’s manuscript was diagnostically reviewed by iThenticate on the date indicated as a determining factor in this assessment...”

What is iThenticate?

iThenticate is software created by iParadigms. iParadigms is also the creator of TurnItIn. While TurnItIn was created primarily for instructors to detect potential plagiarism in student papers, iThenticate was created for the publishing industry to assist in the monitoring of copyright infringement. As a result, many publishers of monographs and journals have granted iThenticate access to digital text that would normally be protected behind publisher paywalls requiring a subscription for access. Thus, in addition to comparing the text of an uploaded document to digital text on the open internet, iThenticate also compares uploaded text against text in the published scholarly literature that is otherwise behind publisher firewalls and paywalls on the internet. Because of this increased access to the published scholarly literature, iThenticate is particularly well suited to detect potential plagiarism in scholarly writings intended for publication and submission to a sponsor as a proposal for sponsored funding. Indeed, increasingly, publishers and research sponsors are using iThenticate to detect potential plagiarism in submitted manuscripts and proposals.

Because it was created for publishers to monitor copyright infringement, unlike TurnItIn, documents uploaded to iThenticate are not added to a database for future searches. Uploaded documents remain the proprietary property of the individual who submitted them for analysis and are only available to individuals who have access to the submitter’s personal iThenticate user account. Also, once uploaded, the document and the resulting Similarity Report remain in the user’s personal account filing system until the user deletes them.

One further point of clarification. Neither iThenticate, nor any other software, can detect plagiarism per se. What they can detect is text in an uploaded document which is identical or nearly identical to text in the previously published literature accessed by iThenticate for comparison. Text in an uploaded document that is identical or nearly identical to text in the previously published literature does not always represent plagiarism. Particularly in scientific and other technical literature, there may be only very limited ways to express a concept or method. Thus, identical or nearly identical words or phrases may appear in many or most manuscripts in certain fields, and it takes the trained eye of an experienced scholar in the discipline to determine when these repeated words or phrases require citation and/or represent potential plagiarism.

How can I get an account to use iThenticate under Purdue's site license?

iThenticate runs on iParadigm’s servers and your user account is accessed via the internet by user ID and password. It is not necessary to download or install a local client on the user’s workstation to use iThenticate.

For individuals wishing to use iThenticate through Purdue’s site license, the first step is to obtain a personal user account. Purdue is only able to grant user accounts under its license to faculty on the West Lafayette campus and Graduate Faculty on other Purdue system campuses. These eligible faculty should contact Graduate School Associate Dean James Mohler by email at to request creation of a user account. When your user account is created, your Purdue Career Account email address will serve as your login ID and you will be assigned an initial, temporary password by iThenticate. The first time you login to iThenticate using your temporary password, you will be asked to establish a permanent password.

To access your user account under Purdue’s site license, go to and click the login link in the upper right hand corner of the screen. If you click on any of the other access links on the iThenticate homepage you will be asked to enter a credit card number to access the software and will NOT be able to access your Purdue account. The next screen to open will be the login screen. Enter your user ID and password in the boxes in the center of this screen and click the green Login link in the center of the screen.

What should I do if I forget my iThenticate password or have a problem accessing my account?

If you forget your iThenticate password or have other problems accessing your user account, contact James Mohler ( again and your account will be reset, which will cause iThenticate to send you a new temporary password. Do not contact iThenticate directly regarding problems accessing your personal account.

How do I upload a document to iThenticate?

How do I interpret the iThenticate Similarity Report?

Is iThenticate able to identify matching text in languages other than English?

Yes, iThenticate will identify identical or nearly identical text in 30 languages in addition to matches in English. Following is a list of these additional languages: Chinese (simplified and traditional), Japanese, Thai, Korean, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Norwegian (Bokmal, Nynorsk), Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, Farsi, Russian, and Turkish.

Please note, however, that iThenticate is not currently able to identify translated text as a match. That is, if an article is originally written in French and the author of an uploaded document has translated the original French text into English without giving a proper citation, iThenticate will not currently identify this as unoriginal content.

What if I have additional questions?

If you have additional questions, contact Graduate School Associate Dean James Mohler by email at

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