Students learn about plagiarism at an early age. They are all schooled with the risks of being a “copycat. “ Such acts can mean a zero grade and maybe even expulsion.
Most adults recognize that plagiarism is a black mark when it comes to integrity and reputation.
Originality is key to any written document.
It could be as simple as scripting a speech or as detailed as a doctoral thesis. Drafting your online content? It’s never a good idea to lift words from a competitor’s site. The same is true if you are putting together a riveting novel or personal life story.
The onus is on you to find a novel approach.
Not everyone is a professional writer or finds it easy to commit words to paper. It’s the reason that many search for experienced ghostwriters. Those in the business are especially compelled to ensure they have not imitated another author’s work and called it their own.
At Writefully Inspired, we have developed our own system to avoid plagiarism. Check out some rules and our use of a well-known tool.
The Rules on Avoiding Plagiarism
There’s actually a federal government agency that offers guidelines concerning efforts to avoid the risk of plagiarism. The Office of Research Integrity falls under the auspices of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. You might enjoy reading their “28 Guidelines at a Glance on Avoiding Plagiarism.”
Even if a writer has decided to use a thesaurus to change some of the words in a document, there is an obligation to provide a reference source.
We did it twice here already. First, with our interpretation of the definition of plagiarism. Next, when we presented the guidelines. We provided you with a link to make you aware of a reference we used in researching this subject.
Obvious Plagiarism Examples
Some cases of plagiarism are more obvious than others. Let’s go over them:
- Copying someone else’s work exactly as it appeared in their text
- Stringing together a certain number of words (some say five is the magic number)
- Stealing another writer’s creative story and just changing names
- Using select phrases from someone else’s work with deliberate intent
We did say that some acts of plagiarism are more apparent than others. Let’s go over a concrete example that may give you some clarity.
Suppose for a moment that you are an attorney trying to attract people to your website. You decide to write a blog regarding child custody. As you peruse the internet, you notice that a lawyer from another state has created a scenario that seems interesting enough.
You are keenly aware that it would be unethical to copy the verbatim text.
But, what about this? Even changing the names in the example and rewriting the story, could mean you are guilty of plagiarism. After all, you may copying someone’s creative process. This is unless the information comes from a real court case. You would then be obligated to quote from the court documents.
Some government publications are not subject to traditional copyright standards. For example US Government Works cites only a few exemptions to reproduction of their work. This constitutes the “free use” of many government documents.
Keep in mind that it always makes sense to state the origin of content to give it credibility. You will note that we have done that throughout this article.
Even the best professional writers have concerns about plagiarism. For many, it is the fear that they will plagiarize themselves. Styles are often particular to authors and can be repeated.
That’s just one problem.
There’s also the issue of photographic memories. What happens if someone conducts research and inadvertently lifts text that appears elsewhere?
This makes a good case for a software program that includes a plagiarism checker.
At Writefully Inspired, we use a tool named Grammarly for plagiarism detection. We tried it first to review our own Home Page after publication. It immediately flagged us for using unoriginal content. (That meant we were attempting to plagiarize ourselves!)
When we write for others, we may find certain random of content will come up as potentially copied from another website. It can be amusing when we have authored a blog for a paint company and receive notification that a medical billing company has used an identical phrase.
It seems the algorithm picks up sequential words
This doesn’t mean that every string of words is potentially plagiarized.
The tool is not sophisticated when it comes to stealing from imaginary scenarios. Obviously, personal integrity is the best marker in those situations.
Do You Need a Professional Writer?
Not everyone has the time or desire to come up with original ideas and content. At Writefully Inspired, we enjoy putting words and thoughts together. Having difficulties with a writing project? We can help. Contact us to see what we can do for you.