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Request an article, take about 8-9 words from the text, enclose them in quotation marks, then run a google search.
It's not foolproof, but it's a pretty good way to spotcheck for wholesale copying from other cached websites.
If a writer is slouching towards plagiarism, but at the same time cautious enough to duck under the radar, then this test might not work.
In my experience, however, writers usually don't encroach on the gray area too much. They're either 100% honest and original or they're complete copycats.
I think it's all about the sources where you're going to look for people who are to provide it for you. I personally find such people by references and recommendations.
Concerning any technical tools to detect the articles' originality, I'd say they can't give 100 % guarantee for that, 'cause a crafty creator is likely to have ways to baffle it.
I checked and couldn't find this anywhere on the copyscape site. I could be missing something. Is there a way to plug in a brand new article (or snippets of it) and check to see whether or not it's been done before?
You see, I think this thread is about checking new, unpublished content against articles already in existence. (the question is: "How can a purchaser be sure content is unique?")
So far, it seems that the only way copyscape could help in that regard is if a webmaster were to publish a submitted article, wait for it to get cached, and then, through copyscape, find out that it's plagiarizing other websites.
Certainly not ideal.
But if copyscape actually does have a feature that allows you to check the originality of a brand new article that a content writer has just submitted, then, well, that would be cool. Does this tool exist?
I think the google cache is the best there is, but again, I could be missing something...
Still, I prefer long-string searches instead for checking for plagiarism.
General travel guide stuff goes for about $0.02 to $0.03 per word, for original regurgitations of existing information. If you want to send someone to each location to make sure you get a really original take on things, then it could get to be a lot more expensive than that.