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What is Plagiarism?

What is plagiarism?

It is the bane of every writer’s life.  To put the time, energy, and resources into an article and present it to the world is great – but when some lazy so-and-so comes along and presents your text as their own – that is flat out theft.

So I went around the web and found definitions of plagiarism:

Dictionary.com

noun.  an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and representation of that author’s work as one’s own, as by not crediting the original author.  Synonyms: appropriation, infringement, piracy, counterfeiting; theft, borrowing, cribbing, passing off.   

Merriam-Webster.com

noun: the act of using another person’s words or ideas without giving credit to that person : the act of plagiarizing something.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Defines plagiarism as “the deliberate or reckless representation of another’s words, thoughts, or ideas as one’s own without attribution in connection with submission of academic work, whether graded or otherwise.” (originally cited from: Instrument of Student Judicial GovernanceSection II.B.1.).

Our knowledge and basic understanding of our written topics are based on the writers and thinkers who precede us.  That’s not to say we don’t have an original idea in our head…or maybe it does!  But I digress, the way we spin words and phrases should be as unique as our individuality.

When I was an online student, the plagiarism-checker of choice was Turnitin.  They have a great article on Tagging 10 types of Unoriginal Work.  A definite must-read for potential clients and freelancers to understand the importance of double-checking the work you allow on your website!

Many of the forums that I have written for have been inundated with plagiarists.  Sadly, it’s pretty common to find one’s work plastered over the internet without permission.  I’ve even seen an entire forum pasted and translated into a different language.  It was interesting to see my articles in a foreign language but the dopes took all the pictures and never changed my username so they were easy to find and report.

What other types of plagiarism is there?

Self-plagiarism

What?  How can I plagiarize my own work?  It’s mine.  I wrote it.

This is true.  If you wrote an original work you own creative rights but if you are using the very same text on multiple sites then search engines will eventually recognize this and potentially remove both or all sites.  This could affect your traffic and revenue.  As a writer I compose things on many forums – often on the same topic.  My challenge is finding new, fresh ways to talk about the subject without getting penalized.

I want to be known as an authority on a subject – not as a cheater!

When writing any kind of material I highly recommend running your text through a plagiarism checker.

There are several free ones.  I personally use:   copyscape

 

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