Plagiarism from a digital forensics perspective

Clare Johnson, Ross Davies

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Plagiarism and contract cheating are serious academic issues that ‘undermine the integrity of education’ (Bretag, 2013). There are a number of tools that can help assessors detect plagiarism – particularly where text has been copied and pasted: Turnitin (, PlagScan ( and Urkund ( are examples of such tools. The providers of these tools are also developing authorship tools that use stylometrics and linguistics to determine matches between authors (whether the submitting author, or a third party). It is also possible for an assessor to copy passages of text and paste them into a Google search (or similar) with quotes surrounding the passage to see if there are any immediate online matches. In a previous paper Using digital forensic techniques to identify contract cheating: A case study (Johnson & Davies, 2020), the authors began using digital forensic techniques to see if it was possible to detect contract cheating. In that paper, consideration was given to how forensic techniques allow review of document edits through examining the Open Office extensible markup language (OOXML) format of the document. This paper seeks to extend that research by further exploration of the OOXML format to establish whether forensic artefacts can be found to indicate that work has been copied and pasted from online sources. A number of sample documents were created by the authors and the xml analysed. Whilst there were some indicators to suggest work had been copied and pasted, more analysis is required to develop the techniques into a more reliable tool.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIntegrity in Education for Future Happiness
EditorsZeenath Reza Khan, Christopher Hill, Tomáš Foltýnek
Place of PublicationBrno
PublisherMendel University in Brno
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)978-80-7509-772-9
ISBN (Print)978-80-7509-771-2
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • digital forensics
  • plagiarism
  • academic integrity
  • cheating


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