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7 things you should know about plagiarism

With online publications making up a substantial portion of all the text that gets published around the world, instances of plagiarism are becoming more and more common. As more people than ever are publicly trading in words via social media and blogs, it has become harder to circumscribe that which should be respected as the intellectual property of another. Memes get started and passed along; words and expressions get created and take off in popularity; Facebook posts go viral. It can be difficult to tell who ought to get credit for what. And yet we should try. Particularly when it comes to material published in the form of articles, speeches, and books, there is little excuse for not making an effort to properly attribute one’s sources.

To make sure that you don't make someone a victim of plagiarism, here is a list of 7 things that you should know about plagiarism.

  1. "Copy paste" plagiarism:
    This is the most commonly encountered form of plagiarism, and gets its name from the copy and paste options that one can use on their smartphone or computer to copy someone else's content and pass it off as their own. This should be a big no-no in any form of writing that you do online or otherwise. If you need to do so on social media, acknowledge the source and give credit.
  2. Dumped quotes:

    Inserting someone's word-to-word quote into your own text, without any sort of introduction or credit should also be avoided. Doing so doesn't make much sense anyway, as an identifying tag like "In the words of Donald Trump" helps the reader identify those words with the original speaker/writer.
  3. 'Reworded' text:

    If you are 'inspired' by someone and write it in your own words,  you must give credit to the source. It is the ethical thing to do and helps your reader know where this idea of yours is coming from.
  4. Paraphrasing:

    Speaking of putting things in your own words, paraphrasing is accomplished not by going through the original source and changing every third word (that maintains the basic structure and syntax of the original) but by being so well versed in the material that you are able to set aside all sources and confidently restate that which you have internalized.
  5. Read more about plagiarism:
    Several sources on the internet will provide you with in-depth explanations of do's and don'ts. will get you started with the basics. If you want to delve in a bit deeper, head on to this plagiarism discussion.
  6. What you don't need to give a credit for:

    Does that mean that every piece of information you disseminate that did not spring full-grown from your own jam-packed brain must be documented? No. Accepted truths or widely known facts, also known as “common knowledge,” are by definition available in multiple sources and therefore not traceable to one.
  7. About social media:

    All of the rules above can be extended to other forms of communication, including email, Twitter, Facebook, and the like. Additionally, common courtesy should hold sway. If you like someone’s status update and want to share it, ask first. (I admit I have not always done this.) If permission is granted, put the information in quotation marks and name the one who said it. If you link to an article and pull a sentence or two out to quote, use quotation marks.