Plagiarism Check Service

Members of the four research institutes can submit their manuscripts to Lib4RI to be checked for similarities with already published work. Since many funders and publishers run manuscripts through plagiarism check software by default, the number of rejections for this reason has increased. We offer this service in order to help our users overcome this problem.


The four institutes have agreed upon specific guidelines for this service provided by Lib4RI. You can read these in detail here.

This is a short summary of the most important points of these guidelines:

  • This service is free of charge for any research and technical staff member of the four research institutes within the ETH Domain.
  • Bachelor, master and doctoral theses should be checked by the home university. In case the home university does not provide a plagiarism check, we can perform the check for you.
  • You may submit your manuscript to us if: (a) you would like to see if there is plagiarism prior to submitting your article for publication; (b) a funder or a journal rejected a manuscript on the basis of plagiarism.
  • Please note that we provide you with a report that shows you how similar your text is compared to other published work (see for details below on “how to interpret the PlagScan report”). We do not interpret the result, nor express our opinion whether there is plagiarism or not in your manuscript.
  • Although this service is called “plagiarism check”, it is important to understand that it does not detect plagiarism, but similarities within a sequence of words in a sentence.
  • We will not share your manuscript with unauthorized third parties.

How to submit your manuscript

You can submit your manuscript for check through this online form (open/edit with Adobe Reader/Acrobat). Please upload your document as a PDF or Word file. The software should ignore the reference list for the check of similarities; however, as this has not always been the case we suggest you to remove the reference list from your manuscript before submission.

After receiving the file, we will deliver the results to you within a few days as a Word and a PDF file for your convenience.

PlagScan software & settings

The software solution we have chosen for the plagiarism check is PlagScan. The tests we conducted with this software have produced good results and the data security is higher than in comparable products. The check we run looks for similarities between your manuscript and documents available online and in publisher sources. Currently, there are already about 10,800 journals included. However, neither Lib4RI nor the service provider can guarantee the complete detection of all potential plagiarism and cannot be made liable for non-found text similarities.

The PlagScan settings we use are:
• The reference list is excluded during the similarity text.
• Words and sentences in quotations are ignored.
• A sentence is marked as potential plagiarism when at least five consequent words have been found similar in other sources.

How to interpret the PlagScan Report

On the first page of the PDF file all sources where possible similarities have been found are mentioned, whereas on the Word file these sources are added as comments throughout the text. In addition, on the PDF file the similarities are marked with colours:

  • Red text: the words of this text have been found in the exact same order in another document. PlagScan considers matches of five words in a row and more as similarities.
  • Blue text: the words of this text are detected as possible plagiarized text that has been slightly changed.

Here you can find a detailed explanation of the PlagScan report including an example report. Explanation videos on this topic are available as well.

The software only detects similarities between documents based on word sequences. Conclusively, the author has to evaluate the results and decide whether the text contains plagiarism. The best way to avoid plagiarism is to cite the sources used.

How can I avoid plagiarism?

For further information about plagiarism and how to avoid it have a look at these sources:

What is plagiarism?
What qualifies as plagiarism?
What about self-plagiarism?

How to prevent plagiarism:

Should you have any questions do not hesitate to contact us per email to

TEL. +41 58 765 5700 

Dr. Laura Konstantaki

t +41 58 765 5590

Dr. Jochen Bihn

t +41 58 765 5228