Basics of Hidden Characters and How to Find Them?

June 4th, 2021

Reading time about 13 min

How to Use a Plagiarism Checker to Find Hidden Characters?

Plagiarism is a form of stealing, and it hampers the reputation and academic integrity of an educational institution. Thus, educational institutes are very careful about plagiarism. Many educators also suggest that the students should use a plagiarism checker, or tool, to avoid any instance of plagiarism. The rate of plagiarism is going up with time.

Many students are looking for different ways to avoid getting caught by the tools. Many of them use hidden characters in text files and web pages which a person cannot see with naked eyes. Many plagiarism checkers also fail to find out those hidden characters, and the student may end up with plagiarized content. However, educators can use better plagiarism checker tools to find out empty characters present in a text.

Hidden Characters

Plagiarism is severe academic misconduct, and the institutes take it very seriously. If the educators warn a student multiple times for plagiarising, they should be careful about not continuing the same. Hence, instead of crediting the actual author, they continue to find a way to dodge the plagiarism that can be more harmful to their career.

Some primitive checkers may not identify those tricks. However, some powerful plagiarism checker tools come with the algorithm to identify those hidden texts and invisible characters. If the teacher can identify those parts and the cheating gets caught, the consequences may be harmful.

Academic Misconducts:

Plagiarism is a threat to the academic integrity of an educational institution. Therefore they have their educational policies to prevent the students from plagiarising. Sometimes students show their incredible ability to cheat by using different methods to dodge the plagiarism checker. They can use hidden characters in words and multiple layers of a pdf to cheat.

However, the most common way is using hidden texts or foreign characters. Hidden or invisible characters include almost non-existent white marks between words or similar-looking characters from a foreign language. Using white characters in place of spaces is a common way a student plagiarizes.

hidden characters, Academic Misconducts

When an educator checks the content using any free plagiarism checker, the tool considers the presence of those characters. Hence they generate an inaccurate result. They also fail to find out plagiarized content present in those text files and web pages.

Therefore, the educators or readers can use a professional plagiarism checker, immune to this discrepancy. The students can also cheat by substituting some English alphabets with Cyrillic or Latin characters.

Hence, while comparing, the plagiarism checker reads them as foreign characters though they look similar to English ones. The result is, the report that it generates claims the content as original. However, in reality, there can be some copied content present in the text.

What Are These Hidden Characters?

A user can type a whole document and then hide some parts of that document if they want to. This was initially a process to deliver confidential information. However, with time, many students have had to resort to this to hide their acts of plagiarism. Nobody can see these hidden characters with naked eyes.

They need to use the ‘unhide’ function on the text to see the hidden characters. The students can also use the trick to change all the document space with some hidden characters. Then they can put those characters in white colors.

Thus, when a reader sees white characters, it may look like spaces to them. When the plagiarism checker scans, they give a negative report because of the presence of those white foreign characters.

There are empty spaces between the characters that anyone can see. The most common whitespace character is space which a person can place in a document after hitting the spacebar. The students can substitute these white space characters with words or letters in white color. This may allow them to manipulate the plagiarism checker and get a negative result.

Filling in the Gaps With Hidden Characters:

There are different ways a student can choose to play with these hidden characters. First of all, they can add hidden texts which are not visible in naked eyes. The readers need to use the unhidden text feature to unhide the content. They can also add some white characters here and there, which may look like blank space characters.

Sometimes students may use foreign characters for this. When they fill the gaps between the words with hidden characters or white words, any primitive plagiarism checker registers them as normal characters. Hence can give a wrong result.

The plagiarism check considers that text as original. Therefore, does not show any plagiarism report. However, if there is any SEO content, this trick may fail to be helpful. Therefore the educators must use a plagiarism checker that has an algorithm to check the hidden texts.

How One Finds Out Hidden Characters Present In Text Files?

The students use multiple ways to dodge a plagiarism checker. They may use mosaic plagiarism or special characters to avoid plagiarism. When a teacher uses a primitive plagiarism checker, the tool may fail to identify those hidden characters.

When a paper has some invisible characters, the plagiarism checker may fail to produce an accurate result. The tool scans the document to look for similarities by comparing the text with other existing files. Hence, the presence of these characters can affect the result. Thus, the teachers must use good plagiarism checker tools like Copyleaks.

They feature some advanced technologies that can identify those hidden texts present in the content. The software applications can determine those parts that do not belong to the text file and mark the writeup with an error sign. The tools like Copyleaks compare the file in txt format with the visual file having doc format. The tool generates an accurate result to find out the presence of the special character in a text file.

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