Sometimes, copying someone means that you admire their work, and you are merely paying homage to them. On the other hand, there is a thin line between the copying of content and the blatant stealing of work and presenting it as entirely your own.
The truth is that that content theft, otherwise known as website plagiarism, is actually rampant online, with people doing it both consciously and unconsciously. Bloggers and other writers are especially in danger of finding themselves accused of plagiarism if they do not take the necessary steps to make sure that any borrowed work is rightfully attributed to the original author.
So, as a writer or webmaster, you need to take the effort to ensure that all of the content on your website is either unique or well attributed to its original author. How? Read on for the tips.
1. Time is your Friend
One of the greatest catalysts of plagiarism is a tight deadline. It is usually when we have tight deadlines to deal with that we find the temptation of plagiarism too great. We want to get the next article out as quickly as possible.
To avoid falling into that trap, make sure you create enough time to finish your work early so as to be able to double check it and edit it. That way, you will make sure nothing makes its way into the final piece that isn’t supposed to be there.
2. Do your Research
Another thing that typically leads to plagiarism is the lack of ample research. When your research is limited, you’re likely to feel like you lack sufficient content and therefore more likely to just lift words and passages off of the few research sources you could find. You could find yourself adopting the same structure as your source, the same type of vocabulary, and phrasing, and so on.
To avoid running into such issues, simply make sure that you have a wide variety of sources to read and pick ideas from. You will expose yourself to more styles of writing and content structures. You can then pick the very best from each of these and create a piece that looks truly unique. The whole idea behind writing is that your work should look like its standing on the shoulders of giants, in a manner of speaking, while also maintaining an originality of its own.
3. Know your Sources and keep Track of them
While we are on the subject of doing extensive research, make sure you’re keeping track of all of your sources. Every time you pick something from someone else, such as a phrase, word, idea, or any other form of content and add it to your own work, make sure you take a note of it. In fact, when the final piece comes out, there should be links to all of your sources so you’re better off having those links in your drafts as well. That way, you can tell the difference between what is your own and what belongs to someone else.
4. Use an Essay Plagiarism Checker
An essay plagiarism checker can prove to be a valuable tool for your writing. Basically it is a tool that you use to go through your work and find any signs of plagiarism. It basically compares your work word by word to works on the internet and finds any significant matches it can. It then tells you how unique your work is.
Some plagiarism checkers are free while others are paid. However, if you want to do the most in-depth test of plagiarism in your work, especially if you take your writing seriously, you should get a paid plagiarism checker. They have a lot more features and offer much more value.
5. Quote Content
In case there is content that you wish to lift word for word from another source, then you should put it into quotes. Verbatim text is pretty much not your own, and you want people to know that. Quoting it and having the name of the source at the end, preferably with a link to the original content location, is a good way to do it. You want your readers to also know what is yours and what isn’t.
6. Attribute Content
This is somewhat different from quoting content. With quoting, you’re putting anything that has been borrowed word for word into quotes. With attribution, you are dealing with points and ideas. In case there is a specific idea or point in your work that you have borrowed from someone, you will want to attribute it to the original source. This applies even when you have paraphrased the original content and put it into your own words. That way, you don’t have to worry about someone saying that you stole their ideas. Moreover, it really helps with your SEO.
While we’re on the subject of paraphrasing, it is good to paraphrasing any work that you do not see the need to attribute to the original source, such as when it is common knowledge. Rewriting it ensures that you do not get accused of duplicating someone else’s content.
7. Edit your Work
There is really no better way to make sure that you didn’t plagiarize anyone else’s work than to simply check for any signs of plagiarism. Even though you can use a plagiarism checker to do this, it is still useful to go over it yourself and even hand your work over to a colleague or friend to give it a fresh pair of eyes.
Running it through both human eyes and virtual ones ensures that you do a thorough job of ensuring your work is not a duplicate of someone else’s work.
To be entirely honest, there is lots of plagiarism on the internet and the fact that there are literally millions of articles getting published on the internet every single day makes it hard to do away with the issue of duplication entirely.
That said, you should take it upon yourself to make the effort to keep your work free of plagiarism. You should be very deliberate about the way you write and make sure you have a list of all the sources you have used to inspire your writing, as well as links that you can put in your work so readers who want to see the original piece can access it. That way, you benefit yourself in two main ways: first, you protect yourself against being accused of plagiarism. Second, you make yourself part of the ongoing dialogue in your niche.
Michael Turner is a writer and blogger specializing in personal development, education, and technology. He loves to spend his time exploring various aspects of the human condition and writing about them. When he’s not writing, he’s busy hiking and getting in touch with nature.