Over the growing number of years spent in Content Development, Management and Curation, I’ve dealt with scores, if not hundreds of incidents of plagiarism.
Not only have I battled with plagiarists turning in ‘artful twists’ of work that overlaps other published sources, but also people who have copied my own writing works across the web.
Truth, integrity and simply giving credit where it’s due are among the tenets of content that we all hold dear in any published form. And any material that does not reflect these essential standards is fundamentally a copyright infringement of the original author’s works.
Again, no two instances of plagiarism are exactly alike, and needs to be dealt separately.
However, there’s one common, recurring theme that remains constant all through these sardonic stages of literary theft.
That is – Cut, Copy, Paste (with artful twists, of course) other peoples work and claiming it as their own.
Here are some common characterizations on why people plagiarize and how one should avoid it-
There is No Exact Reason on Why one Plagiarizes
Just few days ago CNN fired its London Bureau employee, a seasoned news editor (with great recommendations) Marie-Lousie Gumuchian for repeated instances of plagiarism that got discovered during a routine editing check.
When confronted on what she had to say?
The good faith that was placed in her had been compromised, and for no apparent reason.
While it’s easy to blame ones personal failings, or making of excuses, much of the confusion seems legitimate. Every person struggles to explain their shortcomings, when confronted, and plagiarism is no different.
Unplanned Shortcuts for a Writer
While one doesn’t plan of becoming a plagiarist while starting out with a writing career, there seems to be an ethical lapse on the way, often due to external circumstances.
For instance, one may find it a quick approach to earn extra bucks, or save on their time while researching, or even find help in copying from a great deal of background material. All this then grows into a compulsive habit of ripping off other people’s works, and claiming it as their own.
Simply put, it is a convenient shortcut for a writer, for which he/she even gets rewarded, if not caught.
Baking in the Same Mistakes
Once a plagiarist, is likely to be a plagiarist again.
This is not a surprising revelation, as someone who has routinely been submitting copied work that gets paid for, is likely to bake another such piece.
What’s more surprising however, is that they will often continue plagiarizing even after getting caught, may be this time for another client.
Whether to give them a second chance? Nopes…I’d rather steer away from them completely.
Getting Caught is not what a Plagiarist Expects
It is appalling to notice what comfort writing can do to a plagiarist.
They often work hard, harder I would say, than most legitimate writers. They will pump up more time, to look up more sources, and then artfully edit and re-edit, working hard to hide their plagiarism. By the time they are done, the piece has often taken more time and effort than a genuine piece of writing.
Moreover, even after we read news after news on incidents of plagiarism surfacing, one still carries on to believe that they will not be caught. They may even risk their reputation as an academic or a seasoned writer.
The reasons for this are many, for they have learned to outsmart Google, get an edge on most plagiarism checker tools, and found a way to convince themselves that they are completely safe – until they are confronted by the revelation.
While plagiarism is an unsavory act committed like any other breach of trust, there is no clear demarcation on what can be said as an original or genuinely researched material, to a well-drained, tossed and mixed bowl salad of words.
So while the struggle against plagiarism is worth fighting for, every content owner should be aware why the plagiarist would choose to hit the ‘copy’ button for them.