A common concern regarding paraphrasing tools and plagiarism is the potential for students to become dependent on paraphrasing tools, thus failing to learn how to correctly paraphrase independently. Another concern is that paraphrasing tools users might not give credit to the original source of the content.
Plagiarism tools move the responsibility of recognizing accidental plagiarism away from instructors, assigning the role to technology. This may result in students receiving less feedback and guidance from instructors regarding correct methods for using and citing sources.
Plagiarism tools are best used to check information and documents after users have paraphrased the information on their own. Learning to paraphrase is an important skill that needs to be taught and practiced in schools and institutions of higher learning as part of the English, research and writing programs. The practice of changing a few words around in an original text or substituting key words with synonyms still constitutes plagiarism, even though plagiarism tools often rate such documents as being free of plagiarism.
Educators need to teach students how to present source information in a manner that feels and sounds completely different while maintaining the clarity of the intended message of the content. Even so, they should give credit to the original source. Students should also be taught to use direct quotations strategically in instances where the content is highly technical or specialized, making it more difficult to properly paraphrase.