With an ocean of information across the Web, curating unique content proves a challenge, even among article writing services. So, how do you create or ensure the company you hire drafts creative, plagiarism-free copy? And, why is it so important?
While the waves ebb and flow daily and the tides follow a predictable pattern, quality writers strive to pen copy a bit more original and unpredictable in nature. After all, legal and ethical issues aside for a moment, copied copy simply proves ineffective in your marketing efforts and damaging to your reputation.
Now, the truth is that unintentional plagiarism arises. In fact, examples of unconscious duplicating may be more prevalent than blatant acts of copying. Yes, it is possible to regurgitate content without awareness.
Particularly for copywriters and bloggers who spin material weekly, even daily, choosing words which rise above the waves of the mainstream proves troublesome at times. In other words, limited time and the continuous need for content breeds problems. More specifically, speed writing and deadlines added to fatigue increase the practices which potentially lead to mistakenly duplicated words and ideas.
Imagine it: You are up against a deadline. Coffee is barely sustaining your tired thoughts. The research swims before your eyes. How are you able to track which words birthed from your mind or one of the numerous articles you have read?
Or, perhaps, another author words it better than you would or could. Brain cells depleted, you switch up the terminology and create a stellar piece. How can it be plagiarized? The words are yours.
The reasons may be honest (or sometimes not so honest). Deadlines, fatigue, ignorance, inexperience, not caring and laziness push the swell of plagiarism. However, no matter the intent, the consequences prove real and harsh.
So, let’s see if we can clear up any murky water and come to an understanding of what this ocean beast includes and how to stop it from devouring your hard work and marketing efforts.
What Exactly is Literary Theft?
To be blunt, plagiarizing the words or ideas of an author is stealing. And, yes, this applies even if you are the original author. Accusations of this type of theft number like the sand on the beachfront, but what exactly constitutes such a sin?
Writers, including those working for article writing services, as well as those hiring them prove wise to understand the depth and breadth of this seemingly slippery fish. If not, your creativity, content originality, authority and reputation suffer, to say the least. (More on this at the close of this blog.)
In short, plagiarism takes someone else’s and claims it as one’s own. Material affected by copyright includes words, images, video clips, diagrams, tables, charts and more. However, this may not be as obvious as one might expect. For a clearer vision, let’s look at several types or aspects of plagiarism and what they include:
Any ideas, words or phrases from any source which are copied or paraphrased without proper acknowledgment constitute plagiarism. Likely, this common example is the one familiar to many of us hailing our days of writing high school English papers. Even if the terminology is ours, the content fails to be if the idea is not.
Any works created as the result of a group effort belong to the group. In other words, the copyright of a created piece belongs to the group as a whole. However, if one member claims the work as their own, they commit a form of plagiarism called collusion.
Most likely to occur in academic settings, the purchase of a written work by another person and submission of it under one’s own name constitutes commission. The price paid for the content does not transfer the copyright into the buyer’s name. Permission granted or not, this is considered stealing.
Note: In the field of copywriting services, this water potentially grows muddy again. While these services exist to provide quality written copy to businesses, the way authorship is handled could become problematic. Be sure to have an open dialogue regarding this issue with any content service company you retain.
Perhaps the most obvious or evident type of copying is submitting another’s work under your authorship without the original writer’s knowledge or consent. Again, the problem lies in the dishonesty of allowing others to think you curated the content.
While placing quotes around exact words taken from another source is appropriate, too many quoted sections of material constitutes plagiarism. As an example of one rule of thumb, only three to six percent of a work should contain duplicate text. In other words, the quoted copy cannot supersede the original content.
What? How can I plagiarize my own work? After all, the words and ideas are mine? And, I evidently have given consent.
As an author, using entire articles or blogs or portions thereof while penning a new piece walks into the dark waters of plagiarism. The issue here, according to the American Psychological Association, becomes presenting the information as new.
In copy, this could include content created for two different clients. Or, the stretching of a longer post across several entries could be used to increase the breadth of publications. To avoid the error of duplication, a writer must let the reader know that the information has appeared somewhere previously.
Whew! Now what?
Strategies to Avoid Plagiarism
With a basic understanding of plagiarism, employing strategies to defeat it rise up. When hiring, ask about guards against duplicating material. For instance,
- Look for writers with a clear understanding of the meaning and repercussions of plagiarism.
- Find copywriters who recognize the value of original, creative content.
- Be wary of overburdened writers.
- Identify humble writers willing to give credit where it is due.
- Review writing samples for creative insights and approaches as opposed to all-too-familiar industry information or ideas.
And, whether you are the writer or outsource this company need, the following hints ensure all content gets a plagiarism-free rating.
Learn basic copyright law.
While an in-depth understanding of the law falls outside of your necessary expertise, a general comprehension keeps you from violating another person’s rights. Yes, protection of intellectual property is a right. The U.S. Copyright Office offers a helpful place to begin.
Write after you research.
Remember how your elementary teachers taught you to read at least three resources and make brief notes on note cards? These basic research techniques apply to online fact-finding as well (sans the three by five index cards). Thoroughly researching an article or blog and taking paraphrased notes before writing leads to less opportunity for unconscious plagiarizing.
Use your own words.
And, a well-researched topic brings a clear understanding of it which allows you to write content without relying on someone else’s words. To say it another way, make it your own, develop a personal take and, no matter what you do, avoid the copy-paste.
Create original content.
In addition to using your own language, find a new angle or approach. Can you add a personal story or incorporate an innovative analogy? Are there unexpected examples to use? You may be writing the same industry message, but discover a way to say it anew. Or, better yet, blog a related subject barely touched by industry competitors.
Reference through hyperlinks.
Referencing any work, on or offline, requires an author to include information on a document, or part of a document, with enough detail to enable readers to locate it. On the Internet, providing a hyperlink credits the source article for words and ideas used in your content. No bibliography required.
A hyperlink only requires a click or hover by the user to access the referenced information and find the original author. Typically, items such as facts, research and information which you did not previously know should be hyperlinked. This includes infographics, images, video clips and more.
Watch the quotation marks.
When including exact phrases from other works in your content, quotes are necessary. Coupled with a link back to the source document, quotes bring proper recognition to the original author in online copy. In other words, plagiarism is put to rest.
However, be aware of too many quotes within any given context. As mentioned above, if the quoted content drowns out your original copy, plagiarism arises. In other words, use quotes to support your work not write it.
Use anti-plagiarism tools.
Even with conscientious writing and careful checking, familiar phrases or industry knowledge may slip in and trigger a case of plagiarism. Fortunately, free and low-cost help is available. Plagiarism checking software offers another set of eyes in reviewing your documents.
Yes, downloading anti-plagiarism tools helps catch stray duplicate phrases. These tools such as Grammarly, Dupli Checker or PlagScan, to name a few, highlight the problem areas of a page allowing you to change them. A percent of plagiarism is also often reported to identify when too many common phrases or quotes are used.
Manage your time.
One of the grave dangers to original content is working tired and under a deadline. I know, how else do writers get the job done? But, leaving adequate time to research, plan your article and write decreases the odds of copying material.
So, slow your pace. Practice good time management techniques. And, write during your peak hours of alertness.
Why Does It Matter?
So, why all the fuss? What is the cost of plagiarism when you can likely spot examples of it all over the Web? Check out these five reasons to avoid copying content.
1. It robs you of creativity.
Merely employing the convenient friends of copy and paste quiets the creative side of your brain. After all, how much innovation does it take to click and click again? Is this effort any more mind-challenging than data entry?
However, the work put into planning and creating original text continues to spur brain activity. And, your developing mental processes continue to breed greater content. Plus, these smarts transfer into other projects and areas of your life.
In regard to business, the lack of creative content affects rankings, the draw of traffic to your site, the ability to retain customers and ultimately, your bottom line. And, without creativity, it is difficult to stand out from the sea of industry blog, article and web pages across the Internet.
2. It lessens content originality.
Getting content recognized by search engines goes beyond keywords. Modern algorithms like content originality. In other words, copied content lands on the bottom of Google (and other) ranking lists while original copy makes its way to the top.
For instance, in 2011, Google introduced an algorithm termed Panda with several resulting updates in the years since. The purpose of Panda is to recognize and minimize duplicate content by dropping articles containing such down the rankings ladder. On the other hand, quality, value-laden, original content is rewarded.
3. It deflates authority and reputation.
While original copy builds your industry authority, duplicate content leaves readers questioning it. If you merely rehash what already exists on other websites, you offer no added value to Web browsers. Plus, accusations of plagiarism continue to open you up to critical eyes, if they look at all.
Additionally, your reputation suffers. A lack of trust is likely to develop among your readers. And, online consumers prove to be fickle. It is difficult to woo them back once they have clicked away.
4. It results in loss.
Getting in the swim with plagiarism leads to losses on varying fronts. For instance, you just may experience casualties in:
- Money paid in penalties.
- Even your job (particularly if you are the writer).
Turning these losses into gains by creating content in your own voice proves well worth the time and effort.
5. It is THEFT.
The bottom line? Plagiarism is stealing. Ethically, morally and spiritually you reap the consequences.
Also, while online work may prove more ambiguous in this regard, potential legal actions and monetary penalties could apply. And, whether using another author’s work is intentional or an oversight, the sin is the same. Why take any chances?
Plagiarism and Article Writing Services
At the heart of the issue, avoiding plagiarism is about humility. Honoring those who inspire us as writers. Giving credit where credit is due.
And, article writing services which guard against all acts of plagiarism produce content you can be proud of and reap rewards for your business. Works which engage readers with witty, original content hit the mark. After all, a reader quickly recognizes authenticity and is drawn to humility.
Feel informed? Feel better?
P.S. Drop a comment below on your best tips for avoiding plagiarism so we can navigate these troublesome waters together.