P is for Plagiarism

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Plagiarism:

The unattributed use of a source of information that is not considered common knowledge.  In general, the following acts are considered plagiarism: (1) failing to cite quotations or borrowed ideas, (2) failing to enclose borrowed language in quotation marks, (3) failing to put summaries or paraphrases in your own words, and (4) submitting someone else’s work as your own.

Source:  http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/resdoc5e/glossary-of-research-terms.htm

Yeah, don’t do that.

Yeah, don’t do that.

Image:  knowyourmeme.com

When we were kids writing papers in primary school, the teacher always told us not to copy out of the encyclopedia.  That would fall under number 3.  Numbers 1 and 2 seem common on the Internet now, but they still fall under the plagiarism umbrella.

A warning appears on every college syllabus.  Most universities have pretty strict rules about plagiarism.  You can get kicked out for doing it.

Having your work stolen concerns a lot of writers, and it’s even a newbie fear that circles around querying.  But most industry professionals aren’t looking to steal your story; they’re more interested in finding great books to sell rather than copy.

“I just sold Elizabeth West’s book for a buttload of money! Let’s all go shopping!”  Said no agent ever.  (yet)

“I just sold Elizabeth West’s book for a buttload of money! Let’s all go shopping!” Said no agent ever.  (yet)

Image:  stockimages / freedigitalphotos.net

On the Internet, however, it’s another story.  Work gets blogged and re-blogged, and eventually someone copies an article.  It might be a social media company scraping content, or someone with a tight deadline who didn’t bother to cite.  Many times, the person simply doesn’t know how to avoid it.

Or they don’t care.  Apparently, recipe plagiarism is a big thing in food blogging and the culinary world.

This article by Michelle Lindblom, How to Avoid Plagiarism when Writing for the Web, has some excellent tips.  Take your time and cite your sources.  Never say someone else’s work is yours; if it comes back on you, it can be career ending.

 

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