And not in a good way, folks.
I do a lot of freelance writing and this weekend, as I was working my way through an assignment, I came upon a phrase with some spellings I wasn’t sure about. I copied and pasted it into Google to verify and what did I find…not just the phrase, but the entire paragraph.
I checked, double checked…triple checked even. Sadly, the book I was editing had several sections that had been plagiarized.
The author, whether intentional or done out of lack of understanding, had broken the law and could have gotten us both in a lot of trouble had this book gone to print.
I promptly returned it and explained the legal ramifications of what had been done and went on to explain what plagiarism is. It also got me to thinking, perhaps not everyone is aware of the very thin line of using another’s work and copying it.
Here are some pointers:
If you use copy and paste to put someone else’s work into your own, even just a sentence or a phrase, without contributing the original writer, you are plagiarizing.
If you use someone else’s work, and only change a word or two and claim it as your work, you are plagiarizing.
If you take someone’s idea and present it as your original idea, you are plagiarizing.
If, at any time you are uncertain if you are plagiarizing, you are probably plagiarizing.
Here’s the thing, much like doing research for a paper in high school, the internet can be used like an encyclopedia to gather information and help you form ideas, but you can’t copy the internet and call it your own any more than you can copy the encyclopedia and call it your own. It’s cheating, it’s stealing, it’s wrong!
Here is a great site to clarify any questions you may have and the site also has a program to help you find out if anyone is stealing your work.
Don’t steal, kids. You’ll get a spanking! And a bad one too!