Team Lead
Content Strategists

Level Up Your Marketing Campaign

Level Up Your Marketing Campaign


Whether you are a writer, reader, or simply like to share interesting information, you should understand plagiarism. As this article will show, plagiarism is not just copying and pasting content. 

Correctly understanding it will help you avoid this writing sin and ensure you don’t put your name behind plagiarized content!

What is Plagiarism?

When you think of plagiarism, you might think of a high school student copying the entire Second World War entry from Wikipedia into a word document for their History essay. While there is no doubt that many young Ferris Buellers across the world have attempted this (even at the prestigious Harvard University), plagiarism is not always so blatant or deliberate. 

That is why it is important to begin by answering the question: what is plagiarism?

To plagiarize, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, is “to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own: use (another’s production) without crediting the source.” This definition is useful because, unlike our Ferris Bueller example, it highlights that plagiarism can be accidental: not crediting a source can result in plagiarism. It also makes clear that copy and pasting phrases are not the only way to commit plagiarism. 

Copying ideas, even when worded differently, is still plagiarism. Therefore, paraphrasing, the rephrasing of another’s idea using different words, is not a magical loophole. If it is not cited correctly, paraphrasing can also constitute plagiarism

Having defined plagiarism, let us now examine how you can avoid it in your writing and how you can identify it everywhere else.

Staying out of Trouble: How to Avoid Plagiarism in your Work

Plagiarism is a very serious offense with significant consequences. In university, plagiarism goes against academic integrity and can result in failing a class, being put on academic probation, or even worse, being expelled. Therefore, plagiarism is a severe infraction in academic writing. 

Fundamentally, plagiarism can be seen as a form of theft, so committing plagiarism reflects poorly on the author’s character. Professionally, the consequences are also severe. In some cases, the author could face legal challenges for infringement of copyright law.

However, things do not need to escalate to that point for there to be negative consequences. Who would want to do business with a thief? You could lose business without even knowing it, especially if a potential client reads some of your content and spots plagiarism.

With all these potential repercussions, everyone has an interest in avoiding plagiarism. Here are 4 tips that will help you avoid plagiarism in your writing:

Honesty is the best policy: If you start your writing with the honest intention of not committing plagiarism, you’re already halfway there. This is especially important when quoting ideas. 

If you write a whole page about Abraham Lincoln’s political thought, it should be clear from the text alone. That way, if you accidentally forget a footnote or a hyperlink, or you are not providing a direct quotation, the origin of the idea will still be clear. This will go a long way towards protecting your reputation as a writer. It is the difference between your citation mistake being interpreted as a small typo rather than wilful deception.

Make notes as you go: As writers, we understand that when inspiration strikes, writing is the priority! While it is unnecessary to provide a reference list with your first draft, it is a good idea to make a small note, including the text citation or page number, to avoid negligent or inadvertent plagiarism. 

The small note will save you the time of having to go back through all the articles you have read to find the original author. It will also help you differentiate between your thoughts and those of the authors that influenced your opinion. This is very important to avoid accidental plagiarism

Make the information accessible: Making sure your citations are properly formatted to the citation style will make them easy to find and understand. If you are writing for a business, look at how competitors are citing sources in their work. 

Following the industry-leading format will allow readers to follow your sources with ease. Readers will be left with the impression that your information is reliable and your company trustworthy. 

Accessible citations will ensure the reader does not even think that you committed intentional plagiarism. Additionally, citing your source material, even when you paraphrase a passage, will illustrate your intention to credit the original text.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help: Numerous software programs have been developed to identify plagiarism. These programs have access to vast databases of articles and compare your writing against the database to identify plagiarized content. 

If you want to go above and beyond, simply enter your newest product into the software to ensure originality! Moreover, if you need to produce written content but do not have the time, there is always the option of hiring professional writers trained in proper citation format to produce content for you. We recommend this for business or professional organizations, not student essays!

Use a plagiarism checker: It can be hard to check for potential plagiarism when you are scouring the internet. Use a plagiarism check tool, like Grammarly, so that you can eliminate unintentional plagiarism, and even cite the original source to a written work that you could not find the proper citation for. 

“Elementary my Dear Watson!”: How to Spot Plagiarized Work

Much like avoiding plagiarism in your work, being able to identify plagiarized work can help you avoid negative consequences. If you are going to cite an article, you want to make sure you are crediting the correct author, not a thief! Citing the correct author will protect your reputation as a person who is competent and trustworthy. 

Moreover, if you are going into business with someone, ensuring their work is authentic is also very important. For example, if you hire a freelance writer to publish work for you, plagiarism in their content will reflect poorly on your company

That is why you should spot plagiarism and make sure you deal with a reputable writing company that has an editorial process. With so much on the line, here are 4 tips on how to identify plagiarized work:

Look for inconsistencies: Often, when dealing with more deliberate cases of plagiarism, there might be a disconnect between the author’s usual style of writing and the plagiarized work. There may also be a disconnect of the verb tenses used in different paragraphs if plagiarized from different sources. 

These inconsistencies can give you the gut feeling that something is off. When you notice that feeling, look for inconsistencies in verb tense, tone of the article, or formatting. If such discrepancies are present further investigation might be in order.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help: Alright, you caught us; we plagiarized this point from the previous list! Jokes aside, programs were developed to identify plagiarism in the work of other people. 

Plagiarism software is now used by many institutions such as universities to spot literary thieves. Such programs are a great way to confirm your suspicions. There are many different options out there, both free and for a price. 

The best program will depend on your needs. If you regularly verify plagiarism in the work of other people, paying for a higher-quality software program might be worth it. Amongst the most popular options are Grammarly and Turnitin.

Differentiate between common knowledge and plagiarism: When you are reading an article, and you come across a piece of information, ask yourself this simple question: How does the author know this? 

If the information is not common knowledge and you cannot find the source of information, it might be plagiarism. 

On the other hand, if the information is common knowledge, it’s possible that a citation is not required. For example, no citation is required to claim that “Ice cream is a delicious summertime treat!” 

Asking yourself how the author knows this will allow you to distinguish between information that has not been appropriately cited and information that is simply common knowledge and does not require a citation.

Think like a criminal: Many businesses nowadays invest in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to improve the accessibility of their content in search engines. The reason for that is simple: we all use search engines when we are looking for information. Your suspected plagiarist is no exception! 

Think about it, what do you do when you need to learn something new? You Google it! A quick review of the top results on the subject matter you think has been plagiarized could allow you to find the exact source of the plagiarized content. 

However, for this step to work, you have to know what you’re looking for and should have some reason for suspicion before you begin your research.

Practice Makes Perfect!

Now that you have a better understanding of plagiarism and how to identify it, you have to practice. Just like any other skill, practice makes perfect. In this case, the skill is reading and writing. 

The more you read and write, the better you will be spotting inconsistencies and understanding the citation process. Continue to practice your skills with these tips in mind, and soon no one will be able to get a piece of plagiarism past you!


Related Posts


Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!