Yes, we need to talk about it. Yes, many of you have heard this talk since the 6th grade, but it is worth revisiting. Plagiarism is serious and quite common, particularly on the web.
The OWL at Purdue University defines plagiarism as the uncredited use (both intentional and unintentional) of someone else’s words or ideas. Many writers and not all of them are newbies, include information in their articles, blog posts, etc., that originally appeared somewhere else without giving credit to the originator of the information.
Look at the first sentence in the paragraph above, see how I gave credit for the definition of plagiarism to Purdue University? It’s just that easy. It is also a necessary and essential part of being a responsible writer. When I was a journalism student, one of my professors would issue an automatic fail for an article if a writer failed to cite their sources. As far as credibility goes, the public will institute their own “fail” to writers who steal work from others.
It sounds harsh, but it is stealing. Someone else did all the work and you used it without their permission and without giving credit. It’s a sucky thing to do to another writer and you shouldn’t allow it to happen to you either.
There are websites and programs that will track where your work appears and when it comes across a lifted quote, paragraph or whole article, you’ll be notified. When it does happen you have every right to contact the site admin, author, etc. and let them know your work has been used without permission and you’d like it taken down immediately. You can also try to be a nice person and offer to allow them to use your information for credit AND compensation. If you do make an offer, be sure it doesn’t violate the policy of the publication in which your article first appeared.
If you ever have a question about whether you should cite a source, then you most likely need to cite the source. So be a responsible writer and give credit where credit is due!
Has your work ever been plagiarized? What did you do? Share!