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What is digital plagiarism?

Posted by: barrmar

barrmar

"Noun: Plagiarism 

1. A piece of writing that has been copied from someone else and is presented as being your own work

2. The act of plagiarizing; taking someone's words or ideas as if they were your own" - Wordweb (source). 

Some common types of plagiarism

Plagiarism is the theft of words and ideas from someone else and using them as your own.

Perhaps you find a great review of the latest Parlotones CD on the Web. It would be ideal for your blog. No problem. You simply cut and paste and put it on your Web-site. You do not credit the author or the source.  

Perhaps an article available on the Web would be perfect to complement the range of products that you sell. Simply copy the article and paste it on your site.  No one is credited with having written the article.

You are participating in an online discussion about cloud computing. You want to sound intelligent, but have no ideas of your own. You search the Web for suitable material and find it on Helium.com. Three consecutive paragraphs will put forward an illustration of some great ideas. You simply copy and past the three paragraphs as your own contribution!

You eavesdrop on a band practising a new original song. The song is really great and would suit your own band. You secretly take a recording, bring the music to your band and take all the credit.   

Found a piece of information that would be perfect for your latest economics assignment? Just copy and paste and claim it as your own. Who will know? 

Some copy a paragraph or two. Others copy the entire article. Some simply paste the copied material on their site. Others put their own name to it. 

What plagiarism is not

I find an inspiring article by Dissol on My Digital Life. I copy a paragraph, paste it into my post in quotation marks. I credit Dissol as the author and site the source (preferably) with a link back to the original. 

I ask permission of an author to reproduce an article in full. Having obtained permission, I reproduce the piece on my own site clearly stating the author, the source and that the article is reproduced with permission. 

I get permission from the composer to use a song he has written rather than claiming it as my own. 

The consequences of plagiarism

Plagiarism is a serious offence and when prosecuted successfully can lead to severe penalties. 

Most universities routinely check every assignment for plagiarism. When identified, the student risks losing all credits towards the degree he or she is studying towards. On a post-graduate degree it could place undergraduate degrees at risk! The student may even be barred from further study. 

Google provides a facility to block plagiarists from search engines. You have to produce solid evidence. Links to sites or material by the plagiariser are diverted to a message that shows the person or site as a plagiarist. 

Legal consequences of perjury can include monetary and legal penalties including imprisonment. Plagiarism places not only the offender at risk. It could even place the publisher at risk. For instance, a blogger that cuts and pastes someone else's work and claims it as his own on MyDL can place MyDL at risk as well as him or her self. 

How to avoid plagiarism

Avoiding plagiarism is quite simple. If you are a student, you are supposed to use your brain. If you are relying on stolen information, then you may as well give up right now. 

You are always allowed to quote other sources! Use quotation marks to show what you have quoted and give the name of the author and a link to the source (online) or the name of the book or journal (off-line). 

If you really want people to read the whole article, add a link to the article in your post. A common practice is to copy and paste the title, the author's name and the first paragraph followed by a link to the original. 

If you really must copy the entire article, then you must include the title, the author's name and the source. Also state whether you have obtained permission to republish or not. If you publish without permission but credit the author, then you may be violating copyright laws. You won't be guilty of plagiarism. 

By the way, simply paraphrasing an article is not enough. Plagiarism applies to using another person's ideas without crediting the source. 

Most plagiarists copy and paste from the Web. This makes it fairly easy to trace and catch them. There are many tools available to identify plagiarism - some of them are free. 

Comments (21)Add Comment
Dissol
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written by Dissol, October 02, 2010
I sometimes think that everyone blogging on the Internet should take a course in how to reference!!! smilies/wink.gif

As you point out, the concept is simple - and I enjoy reading a post which does contain references and links, as it shows the author has done some work. (well, this falls flat, when all the links are referencing to the same site...as then it tends to be weaker).

I think too, you miss another point. If one is earning money from blogging (less so on MyDL, given the odd way hits are being counted...again!), then one way that you can increase your worth to potential clients, is to be able to show not just a long list of original work...but it helps if your work is referenced elsewhere.

This is even more key when writing for scientific journals. It is very hard to get a piece published, but the aim is to have an original piece of work, that extends the understanding of an issue. Science is competitive, and the work should provoke others to test the hypothesis, or to find the limits to the work. A good piece of work, that does stimulate this sort of reaction will be well referenced...and a history of producing work that is referenced by others does raise one's status, and improve the chances of future publishing.
barrmar
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written by barrmar, October 02, 2010
Thanks Dissol. As a blogger or writer and if you are publishing something in a scientific or any type of academic journal, referencing and being referenced can make a huge difference.
References and links on an online site add credibility to you and your site as well as increasing your Google ranking.
OS GIKEN
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written by OS GIKEN, October 03, 2010
I think when blogging, the very nature of it allows for it to be plagairised. Yes, we know what plagiarism is...however, as stated in my previous blog about it...I don't have an issue with it. Your previous blog about it stated you have an issue with it...but we both don't have an issue with it should it be to our benefit...which in most cases...it is.
barrmar
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written by barrmar, October 03, 2010
Os - you obviously did not read this post. If you did, you would realise that plagiarism is NEVER to out benefit - unless you are plagiarising (stealing) other people's work and claiming it as your own.
The post (above) explains what plagiarism is and isn't. You obviously have not read the post! If you had, you would not have made this nonsensical statement: "Your previous blog about it stated you have an issue with it...but we both don't have an issue with it should it be to our benefit...which in most cases...it is."
If someone steal your car how does it benefit you? If someone steals your blog and claims it as his/her own, how does it benefit you!?!
Dissol
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written by Dissol, October 03, 2010
OS, no one would mind their work being referenced to, or copied with proper credit. But plagiarism is akin to stealing another's work, and trying to pass it off as your own. It is like piracy... Yes, the internet by its nature lends itself to plagiarism, but it also lends itself to checking for the same. Several times I have read a post, and thought "this reads different to the bloggers usual work" or "I am sure I have read something similar". I then take an unusual sentence, and stick it in Google...hey presto...you get the original...
Twar
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written by Twar, October 04, 2010
" If you are a student, you are supposed to use your brain."

Do you mean that you have to come up with completely original work as student? Or that you simply have to use your brain to not plagiarise?

If its the first - I don't agree. Even though the majority of your work should be original, you have to have valid sources to back your work up. Unless you are post grad at a university in which case you have to produce new knowledge. But even then you will need to back up your work by referencing previous knowledge or lack thereof from reliable sources.

If its the second - Everyone has to use their brain not to plagiarise. It is not specific to students.


Avoiding plagiarism is all about referencing properly. In the blogging world references can be done in a sloppy way such as just linking the source and naming the author, but for work or research purposes, when you write a formal paper, referencing has to be done in a professional way. There are several systems worked out for how to reference on which you can read up any specific type of reference, like the Harvard system for example. You have to do in text referencing and include an entire references section to your paper. There are set ways to reference pictures, online articles, books and so forth. Its very specific and you have to stick to one system of referencing in your paper.
OS GIKEN
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written by OS GIKEN, October 04, 2010
"If someone steals your blog and claims it as his/her own, how does it benefit you!?!"

Barmar, this has happened to you, it must be crap...but let's look at it from my perspective now...assuming someone stole your blog, and it happened to generate R10 000 in hits for you in a matter or 3 weeks due to this person promoting the CRAP out of your blog but the hits still came back to MyDL and they recorded it as genuine hits and you now have R10 000 to claim...tell me please, in your infinate wisdom...how does this NOT benefit you?
Twar
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written by Twar, October 04, 2010
I dont get how you think someone who stole your blog and claim it as their own, and then promote the stolen blog, NOT YOURS, but their stolen version, would in any way ever generate hits for you

If they steal your blog and use it as their own, and then generate the crap out of your original blog causing you to get hits, it would mean one thing:

The person who did this is a complete and utter idiot.

And if you make a lot of money off of his stupidity, that would be great.

But the whole concept of plagiarism means that your original work is never mentioned or linked in any way. Which makes promoting your blog and STILL committing plagiarism pretty damn hard.
AbortRetryFail
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written by AbortRetryFail, October 04, 2010
I think the point is, if the thief does not name the originator not every reader will go to the effort of running web searches to find if the work is original and will assume the thief is the author... so no follow-back to the real author and therefore no hits on the original blogs which of course means no recognition/reward to the author who actually had to work and think to create something some lowlife found interesting/good enough to want to steal
Twar
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written by Twar, October 04, 2010
The real point is if the thief does name the originator, the thief is no longer a thief, and its no longer plagiarism.
barrmar
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written by barrmar, October 04, 2010
Os - you are not using your brain. When someone plagiarises you THERE IS NO BENEFIT. There will not be a link back to the original because the plagiarist has claimed your blog as his own.

If someone copies a an article or a blog or a portion of these with a link to the original, IT IS NOT PLAGIARISM!!!!!

Consider these
Scenario 1 - Plagiarism: you write a novel. Fred X steals your manuscript and publishes it under his own name - Fred X. There is no benefit to you at all as Fred claims that he has written the piece and earns all the royalties from it.
Scenario 2 - NOT plagiarism: John Y finds your novel on the Web. He is impressed and copies a few paragraphs into his blog. He includes a review of your novel and a link back to the original. The link may benefit you greatly. The difference is that John has quoted the source. He does not pretend to have written your work.
In these scenarios, Fred X has plagiarised your work. John Y has not plagiarised you!
OS GIKEN
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written by OS GIKEN, October 04, 2010
LOL I know...I said look at it from my perspective, lol, meaning, they steal your blog, and somehow, it still generates hits on MyDL for you...did I not say this? Must I say it again...don't think it WIll not be linked back, I'm saying, it links back to BARMAR's MyDL account and it generates hits for you...it now benefits you!
Twar
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written by Twar, October 04, 2010
Sigh.
If it links back to Barrmar's blog, then its not plagiarism.
barrmar
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written by barrmar, October 04, 2010
How the F*&^% will it generate hits?????????!!!!
OS GIKEN
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written by OS GIKEN, October 05, 2010
OK...simply put.

1. You blog.
2. Someone writes a blog somewhere in the world, and copies your entire content but he's stupid so he links it...i.e, he writes his stuff,and then links your blog as well claiming its his. Lets not dispute how or why.
3.His blog, containing your link to your blog gets you R10 000 indirectly, he doesn't even know...
4.You log onto the MyDL and go straigt to your hits like you do..lol, and see you got R10 000 to claim.
5. Now, Barmar, you benefit!
Twar
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written by Twar, October 05, 2010
If you're lucky he might also be stupid enough to transfer all his money into your bank account. Then it would be very beneficial!

Os you are creating a very unrealistic situation. I've never met anyone stupid enough to do what you just described.
barrmar
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written by barrmar, October 05, 2010
Well, there is about as much chance of that happening as a car thief dropping his bank card together with the pin and details of how to draw the money from his account into my post box.
How do you accidentally insert a link to the place where you stole the article?smilies/cheesy.gif
AbortRetryFail
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written by AbortRetryFail, October 05, 2010
plagiarists (is that a real word?) are usually too dumb to come up with their own "stuff" but bright enough to be able to remove links and references to their source of information. And readers are too lazy/unaware that there are ways to check on plagiarism online. I work in IT and I don't even know where to go look for that, even knowing of the software we have available on campus including Turnitin
Twar
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written by Twar, October 05, 2010
Being shot in the face with a gun can be beneficial if you recover perfectly with no permanent damage and the shooter leaves you R 1 000 000 smilies/wink.gif
OS GIKEN
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written by OS GIKEN, October 06, 2010
LOL you'd be surprised how dumb people who ACTUALLY steal are!smilies/shocked.gifsmilies/shocked.gifsmilies/shocked.gif

Plagiarists are in nature dumb...if there's thought that goes into stealing Barrmar's work, there is enough thought to create your own. THus, stealing means...write something barmar said and then unknowingly use barrmar's article as a refference lol...
barrmar
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written by barrmar, October 06, 2010
please! Drop it Os. There is as much benefit in being plagiarised as being robbed. So a car thief steals my car and unknowingly deposits R1 million into my account. So we can really benefit from being robbed as well!
smilies/wink.gif
I don't quite get the mechanism! If you cut and paste my work there will not be a reference to the original - unless you deliberately add it!

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