VeriCite FAQs

VeriCite is a plagiarism detection service that identifies potentially plagiarized or improperly cited text. VeriCite is most commonly used within a learning management system to scan student submissions. The service automatically checks submitted work against an ever-increasing index of online sources.

No plagiarism detection process is perfect; that’s not the goal. VeriCite and other excellent plagiarism services identify textual material that is potentially plagiarized by minimizing reports of false positives (identifying authentically original material as plagiarized) or false negatives (failing to identify actual plagiarism).

Like all such services, VeriCite identifies most cases of plagiarized work and most importantly can be used to engage your students in important conversations about attribution, proper citations and the impacts of plagiarism. VeriCite acts as an incentive for students to submit their own best work without making plagiarism detection a primary focus of their course.

How does VeriCite generate reports?

Students submit their papers online, and then VeriCite converts the student submission into plain text and excludes any quoted material from matching. The rest of the text is then compared for exact matches with existing source material. VeriCite uses string matching methods, along with a series of algorithms and scoring processes, to identify matching texts. A report is presented to the user highlighting different levels or amounts of matching per submission. There is an overview score as well as a side by side comparison of the matching text and sources.

VeriCite reports are created on demand every time the report is viewed. This means that there is no waiting for the report; all reports are delivered instantly. Reports are also dynamically refreshed. If a student submits a paper and gets a plagiarized score of 0, and then another student in another class submits the same paper, then both reports and plagiarism scores will update to 100 to show that they have plagiarized. This dynamic updating can help prevent cases where groups of students or paper mills share the same paper.

All submitted papers are indexed then stored securely in a repository that is specific to each subscribing institution.

What resources does VeriCite use to identify possible plagiarism?

VeriCite compares student submissions against data that have been encrypted from millions of academically-related websites, both public and private, including books, journals, articles, open educational resources and much more. For example, the 4.6 million articles in the English edition of Wikipedia have been indexed and VeriCite is negotiating with commercial vendors to include their periodical and book databases in the process.

The VeriCite crawler was initiated with a “seed” list of several thousand key academic resources that are commonly plagiarized. The VeriCite crawler continuously indexes each of those sites and all the sites that are linked within those sites and beyond. Academically-related sites most often link to other academically oriented sites, and to sites that provide additional topical information for their site visitors (all potentially plagiarized material). We are constantly adding new sites to the list based on our crawling process, manual additions to the seed list, and negotiated permissions to add new resources.

In addition, each institution has their own private repository in which all student submissions for that institution are stored and used for comparison. VeriCite can even index papers from prior term courses in order to populate the private repository with several years worth of student work. All papers stored in this private repository remain the property of the institution and are removed from the VeriCite database if the institution discontinues the service.

How large is this index of source materials?

The index is massive and continuously growing. More than 50 million academically-related websites (approaching billions of pages) have been indexed to date. Approximately one million new sites are added to the comparison repository each day. The current comparison repository contains many terabytes of highly compressed “hashes” that are used for comparisons.

How can I get VeriCite services?

Your institution or organization can subscribe to VeriCite by going to vericite.com and completing the online subscription form. If you need any additional assistance once you have subscribed, please contact support@vericite.com.

VeriCite does not currently provide subscriptions to individuals. If you would like to try VeriCite, go to vericite.com for a demo.

Can we host VeriCite at our institution?

No. VeriCite is a cloud-based subscription service.

Can VeriCite use a repository of sources that is specific and private to our institution?

Yes. VeriCite always uses the primary public repository described above as well as the institution's own separate, private, institution-specific repository. This allows VeriCite to check all newly submitted papers against an institution's previously submitted papers as well as any public repositories. Institutions may remove their institutional repositories from VeriCite's database if they decide to no longer use VeriCite.

Is it possible to share our institutional repository with other schools?

Yes. VeriCite has a "consortium" option where institutions belonging to a consortium can opt in to share repositories among consortium members. Consortium admins may also run reports which include aggregate data for all members. To request to create a new consortium or become a part of an existing consortium, please email support@vericite.com.

How do we install VeriCite?

The LTI version of VeriCite requires only access credentials, not a local installation. The LTI version can be used with any LMS that supports the LTI standard. If you prefer to use a native integration option (currently available for Canvas, Sakai, and Moodle) installation instructions will be provided upon subscription.

Detailed documentation is available for installing VeriCite in your LMS. If additional assistance is needed once you've subscribed, please contact support@vericite.com.

Can we evaluate VeriCite before deciding to use it broadly?

Yes. You can try VeriCite free for 60 days. Signing up for the trial will make VeriCite live within your LMS so educators and students can experience VeriCite first hand. To sign up for your free trial, or to demo VeriCite, go to vericite.com.

Can VeriCite be used at the same time as other plagiarism services?

Yes, but only one plagiarism service can be active at a time within any given course. (Also, please note that Canvas only supports one native plagiarism service integration per instance. If you plan to use more than one service at the same time in Canvas, you may need to use the LTI version during your evaluation.)

Do VeriCite reports link back to the original source materials?

Yes. VeriCite reports clearly indicate the potentially plagiarized text and provide links back to the original source materials.

What learning management systems does VeriCite work with?

VeriCite is available integrated into the Canvas, Moodle, and Sakai learning management systems, or as a standalone IMS Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) service which can be integrated into any other platform or LMS that supports LTI. (Blackboard, Brightspace, and almost all other LMSs support LTI.)

Is it possible to have both the LTI and the native LMS integration enabled at the same time, using the same VeriCite account?

Yes, the LTI and internal integration work well together and there is no added charge to use both. If you create an internal integration assignment and submit to it, both the assignment and the submissions will show up in the LTI tool and will be associated with the same users. We encourage most users to use the internal integration since it will be most familiar for your students and instructors and it takes advantage of all of the LMS features, such as grading, permissions, etc. However, the LTI tool is always available if you have a special use case. For example, admin users utilize the LTI version to access admin reports and statistics.

What material formats does VeriCite scan?

VerCite can consume student in-line submissions (authored in a rich text editor) and attached files in most common file formats (e.g. pptx, html, docx, pdf, txt, rtf, ppt, doc, odf, etc.).

Does VeriCite detect self-plagiarism?

Yes. If a student submits the same paper more than once within a single course, VeriCite assumes that each submission is a draft and does not flag the paper as plagiarized. (This default setting may be changed by the instructor if desired.) However, if the student submits the same paper to more than one course, VeriCite will identify the work as plagiarized. Because VeriCite reports are dynamic, reports in both courses will be updated to identify this self-plagiarism.

Are the papers that students submit fully secured and private?

Yes. All submissions from your students are stored privately and securely. These protections, including FERPA compliance, are ensured by our contract for services and insured against data loss/exposure by our cyberliability insurance.

Does VeriCite have multiple language support?

No. VeriCite only supports the English language at this time.

I submitted a paper lifted right out of a journal but VeriCite didn’t catch it.  Why?

No plagiarism service is authoritative or has complete coverage because it’s not possible to access and index 100% of all online content that might be submitted in a paper.

For example, publishers’ content such as scholarly journals, textbooks, and subscription-based periodicals aren’t openly distributed. Libraries pay license fees to access these databases of publishers’ content. Publishers don’t allow this content to be openly indexed (although VeriCite is actively negotiating with several publishers for such rights).

Historically, only about 5% of all plagiarism matches reported by the leading plagiarism services come directly from licensed content. In many cases, licensed content does not show up in plagiarism scans, not just from VeriCite, but from any scanning service. However, the impact on an individual report score is not likely to be great because the relative volume of publishers’ content within the student submission is low.

It is far more common to find a match to licensed content that has been released for public access or has been plagiarized. This is particularly true for significant passages that have been taken from otherwise private (licensed) content. Salient points from an article are far more likely to be cited and even copied into publicly accessible content.

Why doesn’t the report highlight sentences that I know several other students have submitted in their papers?

VeriCite attempts to reduce false positives with contextual awareness of assignments. Some assignments include a question and then a space for a student to respond. If VeriCite discovers that a question is repeated on each student response for an assignment, it will exclude the template questions in the plagiarism matching routines.

How accurate should plagiarism detection be?

It depends on your needs.  

If you are a publisher and need to make absolutely certain that the manuscript you are about to purchase is indeed the intellectual property of the seller, then you’ll want a very high level of confidence in the plagiarism process.

If you are an instructor in a course, you probably have different goals. You want your students to author responsibly, to understand and respect the intellectual property of others and of course, to avoid the sanctions of the campus judicial policies on academic honesty. The presence of a plagiarism service in the assignment submission process serves as an incentive. If most forms of plagiarism are flagged for inspection by the instructor, these goals will be realized. As in almost anything, achieving 100% certainty is quite difficult and expensive, if possible at all. Debora Weber-Wulff, a thought leader in plagiarism detection, has said [1] “…it is not important in an education setting to find all of the plagiarism in a paper.  It is sufficient to find enough for a sanction to be necessary.” Sanctions are perhaps a last resort, but engaging the student in a discussion about academic honesty comes first.

[1]  Weber-Wulff, et al., 2013.   Plagiarism Detection Software Test 2013.  http://plagiat.htw-berlin.de/?attachment_id=2916

Is there training available for VeriCite?

Yes. In addition to VeriCite's extensive online documentation and recorded video tutorials, we offer free monthly training sessions that are open for anyone to register. See our current schedule of live online training sessions to sign up.

Hopefully the free resources we provide will meet your training needs. However, if you would like to schedule a private online training session for your group, we’d be happy to provide it. Just send a note to support@vericite.com with some suggested dates and times, and give us at least two weeks advance notice. If you have particular topics you want to cover, let us know that, too.