Viper Plagiarism Scanner is a piece of downloadable software that is used to detect plagiarism in electronic documents. It scans the web, the user's past document library (optionally), all past submissions to the program, and millions of electronic resources such as books and journals.
Since its launch, Viper has helped over 380,000 users scan over 2 million essays, dissertations and documents.
Users include students, teachers/lecturers, website owners and government officials.
Background: early days
Viper Plagiarism Scanner was first commissioned in 2007 by All Answers Limited, a private education support service based in Nottinghamshire, UK.
The first versions of Viper were programmed by a Ukrainian software developer with the purpose of being used in-house to help the Company's quality control team identify plagiarism in the research work submitted to it by the external consultants it used to complete jobs. As well as being used by the in-house team, the software was offered out to the researchers to enable them to scan their own work before submitting it. In time, the Company realised that its customers might like to check the originality of the research work it was providing. The software was offered out freely for this purpose.
As Viper's popularity grew, All Answers decided to make the software available to any student, teacher or other type of user that wanted it. This was done without charge.
In June 2009, with the scanner in heavy use and strained from the burden of thousands of users that it was not built to accommodate, the Company decided to hire a dedicated internal software developer. Two releases followed, both resulting in a more stable and reliable system that had additional features and improved functionality.
In October 2010, Viper (along with its software developer) was acquired by All Answers Limited, a small entrepeneurial business based in Nottingham City Centre. With a team of six people looking after the software and website, it was no longer possible to offer the software entirely free. Consequently, two options are now presented to users. They may pay a small low-cost fee for 1 month, 3 months or 6 months access to the scanner, or they may allow Angel to publish their essay at least 3 months after the scan was made, in a research database designed to help students find examples of good essays to help them write their own work. These options were made available in April 2011.
Comparison with other plagiarism scanners
Viper has some key differences to other plagiarism scanners:
- Viper displays a highlighted comparison of any match found to an internet source or electronic source, unlike WriteCheck (TurnItIn). This helps students identify where the plagiarised material comes from so that they can reference it properly.
- Viper checks against a database of over 2 million essays which no other plagiarism scanner has access to.
- Viper is downloadable software allowing the developers to make use of matching technology that is far superior to web-based scanners.
- Viper allows scanning against the user's own bank of essays or documents, ensuring they have not self plagiarised.