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Tools & Resources

Listed below are some tools you can use to help detect plagiarism, track down the origin of the questionable paper, or locate information contained within the paper.

Paper Properties

Verify the properties of the paper. Determine date created, author and date last modified to ensure the authenticity of the paper and the author (please note: not always reliable).

Internet Search Engines

While Google is currently the search engine of choice for many people to search for information on the Web, use other search engines as well. A comprehensive list of these search tools is available through the Library.

Online Reference Sources

Try searching, and eLibrary. These sites offer links to other Websites, newspaper and magazine articles, pictures and books on selected topics.

Your Subject Librarian may have other suggestions relevant to the subject area or the topic of the essay.

Electronic Databases and Full-text Electronic Journals

The library has access to hundreds of databases covering all subject areas and holds subscriptions to thousands of journals in full-text electronic format.

Contact your Subject Librarian to assist you in using these resources to locate suspect information on a student's paper.


Paper Mills/Essay-writing Services/File Sharing sites

These services provide pre-written term papers, book reports and dissertations through the internet for a fee. Students can search the paper mill’s database by topic and choose a paper from a list and in some cases students can request specific topic information.

Some students are using file sharing sites and setting up Facebook pages for courses. Check out Course Hero.


10 Cues That a Paper may be Plagiarized

While some cases of plagiarism are easy to detect, others prove more difficult to identify. The following are cues that may signal the student paper should be examined closely or investigated further.

10 Cues
  1. Citation styles and bibliographic citations are inconsistent and mixed or non-existent. The style guide used is not the one used for the course.
  2. The paper is clearly written at a level beyond the student’s usual abilities and may include advanced vocabulary, jargon or combined formal and informal language.
  3. The paper contains a mix of Canadian, American and British spellings (e.g. tire/tyre) or regionalisms.
  4. Inconsistencies from one submitted assignment to another, for example, the second essay is far superior.
  5. The references used throughout the paper are dated (e.g. all more than five years old). Such cases may indicate that the paper was purchased through an essay writing service or written by another student.  An excessive number of inactive web sites may also indicate that the paper is old.
  6. References are made to tables, diagrams, pieces of text or citations when none of this content exists in the paper.
  7. References are made to obscure journals or books not readily available in local libraries.  (Be cautious here — through its electronic databases, the Ryerson Library and other universities throughout Ontario subscribe to thousands of international journals that may be obscure.) Check the Ryerson Library Journal List.
  8. The topic of the paper is inconsistent with the one assigned, or with course content.
  9. Parts of the paper are inconsistent with each other and the writing style changes from section to section.
  10. When asked, the student cannot produce any research notes for the paper or summarize the main points in the paper.



Ryerson University has a contract with Turnitin. It is an evaluative and feedback tool. One of the many ways it can be used is to ensure the originality in student papers. It can assist Faculty/Instructors in determining the similarity between student work and work of other students who have submitted papers to the site, internet sources, and a wide range of journals and other publications. No decisions are made by the service; it simply generates an “originality report,” and faculty must evaluate that report to determine if something is plagiarized. Turnitin is integrated into D2L Brightspace, the instructions for which are available on the Ryerson Courses website.

If is to be used in a course, the following wording is required:  “Students who do not want their work submitted to this plagiarism detection service must, by the end of the second week of class, consult with the instructor to make alternate arrangements.” For more information on Turnitin, please see the Turnitin resource page.

Turnitin assistance for Ryerson Faculty/Instructors
Preparing Students for Success

Student Guides:
Helps students understand and navigate the Turnitin website