Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Danger of Plagiarism and How to Prevent It.

*This post was originally posted on my blog Birds of a Writer.

Today we are going to talk about a very important subject- plagiarism. There are many ways you can plagiarize and sometimes it happens without you meaning too. Plagiarism is something that not only happens in school but in the professional world of writing and other things. The penalities for copying someone else's work without their premission can be very high.

In my school they recently started having us all submit our papers to, a site for schools and I guess other places where when you submit something it will judge your paper against thousands of other works and tell you how much you plagiarized. Here if you are found guilty of copying something you get a zero on your whatever, your parents are called, and you get a detention. In some colleges it can be worse, you can get kicked out of college for it.

I briefly talked about copyrighting and stealing in last week's post The Good and the Bad: Writing websites. Here I will talk more extensively on how to prevent yourself from doing it and how to prevent it from happening to you. And why people steal other ideas. 

Why People Steal Ideas 
  • Laziness- Some people are just too lazy and don't want to take the time to write their own stuff. So they steal others and hope they get away with it. Hopefully they won't. 
  • Inferior Feelings- Some people feel like what somebody else wrote won't be as good as theirs so they take the sentence or whatever.
  • The Thrill- Now why people get a thrill and love doing something bad is beyond me. Sure I've had this feeling before but just because you like a thrill of doing something bad doesn't mean you should. If you really want a thrill of danger go ride a roller coaster or join the army and ask to be put on the front lines. 
  • Wasting Time- Some people procrastinate to the point where it actually starts to hurt them. If you do have this problem you should get help or try and stop it. Ways you can better manage your time is by doing something as soon as you should and make time for it if you don't. 
Ways to Avoid Plagiarism
  • Poor Man's Copyright- One of the ways you can prevent this is from using the poor man's copyright system. If you're a writer, I'm sure you've heard of this, but if you don't I'll explain. It's quite simple actually. All you have to is put your manuscript or whatever in a sealed envelope, mail it to yourself, put it somewhere safe, and whatever you do don't open it! 
  • Starting Dates- Legally if you have to, you can always prove that something was yours first by the date you started it. If you have a computer and you write everything on it, to find your created date go to your manuscript or whatever, right click properties, and then a box should appear with the information. It's have your created date and the date last modified. You can also search for previous versions. On sites like Inkpop, they record the date you originally put the project up and this you can use if you find that someone has taken something of yours by proving that you created it first. Also it helps to start a document, write down a short synopsis and the general information of your story, save it and don't change it. 
  • Paraphrasing- While substituting different words for others may seem like a good idea, it isn't. Paraphrasing someone else's work is not a good idea. To prevent this from happening, don't look at the material when you start writing. Write everything in your own words. 
  • Quotation Marks- This is the easiest way to use someone else's words. But as my english teacher advises, try to not quote something as much as possible. If half your paper or whatever is filled with quotes your reader may as well go and read the other work themselves instead of bothering with yours. If you only want to use part of a quote and another put ... in between in so you don't have to use all of it.
  • CitationOn Blogger or example, there is a quote button, this button when clicked will make whatever your quoting look different. You can also say the person's name or the article and do so-and-so said "..." or so-and-so says "...". You can also use citing formats such as MLA that provide ways to cite books, websites, etc. If you can't find a book on how to cite something you can look it up on Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) or there are sites that will do it for you like Easybib
  • Using Your Time Wisely- My teachers have often told us that one of the reasons kids copy something is because they wasted time and don't have the time to finish something. Or they didn't study. To prevent yourself from falling under the temptation to copy something not yours while under stress is to do it early or not wait until the last moment. Not only will your work look better but you won't have to copy something to get it done on time. 
  • Legally Copyright It- The U.S government will give you a patent on their copyright registry for pretty much anything. This way you can be sure that it's copyrighted from people who steal and you can sue the crap out of somebody in court if they steal it. The U.S Copyright Registry
Some articles on Plagiarizing [Resources Used For This Post] (And yes, I used all buzzle articles for these) 

So have you ever copied something you shouldn't have? Did you have something of yours copied? How did you find out about it and what did you do about it?



  1. Great post, Sareh! Many writers are afraid of their work being copied, so its definitely a relavent post.

    Just curious...was this brought on by the Story Siren thing? :)

  2. Thank you! I know, plus its such a big topic for everyone. And not just writers.

    What's the Story Siren? O.o And no it wasn't. I was posting about this a while ago because of some things that were happening on Inkpop. Someone stole someone's stole and then pushed it into the Top 5. Or it was something like that.

    1. The Story Siren is a fairly well-known book review blog. Just a little while ago there was this huge uproar because she stole some content from another blog. It was a huge mess. Just wondering! :)