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Plagiarism software of little use in science writing

Existing software tools are not sufficient to detect scientific plagiarism, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper.

Debora Weber-Wulff, an informatician in Berlin, says that human beings are better than computers at detecting plagiarism in scientific texts. Software can detect strict copy-pasting only, while people can spot paraphrasing, poor referencing, or the copying of argumentative structures, the newspaper says.

For example, former German defence minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg was found to copy the work of other authors in his PhD thesis. Plagiarism software detected that about 5 per cent of his thesis was copied, while the people who studied the case said that about two-thirds of the text was not Guttenberg’s.

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