Have you ever seen a part of your work appear somewhere online, with no credit given to you at all?
It’s a defeating feeling – having your thoughts stolen from you as an author. It doesn’t matter if you publish your work online, in paperback, in a journal, or submit it to your college professor. In our quest for quality writing, we want to keep our authorship and integrity intact. Today, I’ll discuss the big, broad topic of plagiarism. I’ll also recommend a few good reads and give you a TL;DR overview of the best practices you could implement in your writing business today to stay clear of plagiarism!
What is Plagiarism?
The “P” word is notorious in the writing world. Get accused of plagiarism, and you’re branded as a dishonest writer for a long time. So it makes sense to do your best to stay clear of plagiarism. So what exactly is plagiarism and how do you steer clear of it? It’s defined as taking the work or original thoughts of another author and using it in your writing without due credit. But you don’t need to copy-paste someone else’s entire blog post for it to count as plagiarism – omitting credit where credit is due, and even re-using parts of your writing count as plagiarism too! Also, plagiarism is not only copying someone else’s words – but it’s also claiming ideas, research, statistics, or information without crediting the original creator. No matter how differently you put it in writing.
What Counts As Plagiarism?
There are different types of plagiarism. To be fair, they’re not all just as bad, but it’s important to avoid all of them if you want to be sure your blog or web content is plagiarism-free. We can categorize plagiarism this way: Mosaic plagiarism is when you don’t use quotation marks and cite the original author after you copy someone else’s statement or when you paraphrase a statement but keep the original structure and message. This is a common type of plagiarism in colleges and online. It’s heavily frowned upon and even punishable by law. Accidental plagiarism doesn’t differ much from mosaic plagiarism, except for the fact that the writer did not intentionally use another author’s work or simply unintentionally failed to give proper credit. While accidental plagiarism feels like a smaller offense, it’s still punishable by law if it’s not noticed and corrected in time. Self-plagiarism is when writers use parts of their past work and re-submit it as if they were new. This can be a common issue for niche writers who cover the same topic repeatedly. Sometimes, self-plagiarism is accidental, but other times, it’s intentional.
What About Ghostwriting?
The popular online job seems morally gray to many people, but it’s not plagiarism. In both plagiarism and ghostwriting, the original author is not credited for their work. However, a ghostwriter gave their permission for the work to be published under someone else’s name or a pseudonym. It’s only plagiarism if the original author doesn’t permit you to use their work.
Possible Repercussions of Plagiarizing Your Work
“How will they even find the copied parts in my work?” – it’s easy to fall for that trap when you’re writing your college essays or blog articles. But the truth is, it’s easier than ever to locate and recognize plagiarism. With modern tools, it’s possible to scan hundreds of pages of text in a few seconds, so it’s not likely you’ll just get away with plagiarism if you post your writing online. Of course, not every offense is equally as bad, so you may not suffer serious repercussions if you simply included your textbook writer’s smart remark after your essay. But if you earn from your writing, you should pay serious attention to the originality of your work. In the case the original author considers your work too similar to theirs, they may sue you. This will cost you a lot of money, time, and reputation. And if the court rules you crossed the line between borrowing and stealing, you may even get arrested for copyright infringement. So, all in all, it’s a smart decision to steer clear of plagiarism.
How to Avoid Plagiarism as a Writer
Avoiding plagiarism whenever you write can save you a lot of hassle and even secure your good reputation. You don’t need to be an expert on copyrights to avoid plagiarism – just remember a few basic rules and follow your common sense. Always acknowledge and cite the sources of any quotes, ideas, statistics, or information that you found, even if you say it in your own words. Simply including quotation marks or a link back to the source is enough to give due credit to your sources when publishing articles on your blog. Check out online guidelines or any of the books I mentioned earlier for a better understanding of how citing and giving credit is done. Use plagiarism checkers before publishing anything. You can find hundreds of great tools online. The most popular ones online are Grammarly Premium and Copyscape, but you can find some great free resources as well – Pre Post SEO’s plagiarism checker is quite exceptional and free to use! Invest in originality – If you have your blog, being unique and making sure every sentence you write is on-brand will ensure your blog is free of plagiarism. Of course, your language will be influenced by the research you do before writing – but just being aware of this and giving your best to put the information you find in your own words and structure will help you maintain full authorship over your content. Get in touch with the author if you want to use their work but you aren’t, for whatever reason, able to give credit. Whether that’s using someone’s drawing or photograph as an illustration on your blog, parts of the book written by an author that you admire, or scientific research, chances are that the author will permit you to use their content if you simply ask nicely.
5 Best Books on Plagiarism and How to Avoid It:
1. Who Said What?: A Writer’s Guide to Finding, Evaluating, Quoting, and Documenting Sources (and Avoiding Plagiarism)
By Kayla Meyers
Who Said What? is a unique, comprehensive overview of everything you need to know to avoid plagiarism in your work in college, publishing, or online. It features step-by-step explanations illustrated with contemporary examples that will make recognizing plagiarism easy.
By Martha Vicinus & Caroline Eisner
It’s not easy to understand the principles of avoiding plagiarism that were designed for the offline, paper-based world. Online writers need a source of information that works for their work environment. Originality, Imitation, and Plagiarism: Teaching Writing in the Digital Age brings you just that.
By Thomas Lancaster
In this short read, Thomas Lancaster lays out everything you need to know to avoid plagiarism. This writer’s manual is a comprehensive guide to staying in the clear in your work. It doesn’t matter if you’re a student, a blogger, or a business owner – “Avoid Plagiarism” has your back.
By Peggy M. Houghton
Let this short but rich student’s manual lead you through the basic principles that will help you avoid plagiarism. Even though it’s focused on academic writing integrity, this manual will be helpful to everybody who publishes their writing, in journals, on paperback, or online.
By Titz Joshua
The writer of “How to Avoid Plagiarism”, Joshua Titz, takes a unique perspective on the topic that will be useful to professional writers. He covers the basics but also touches upon topics like accidental plagiarism, self-plagiarism, and outsourcing.
Staying plagiarism-free on your blog, in the content you write, or in your college essays is simple and easy. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use the work of others to enrich your writing. Instead, it only means you should include credit to the author whose work you’re using. It’s not always easy, but I give my best to always publish fully original content for my readers. Do you have any tips and tricks on how to use other people’s content fairly and transparently? Next up, you may want to explore a guide how to become a playwright.
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