The Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of plagiarism is:
“The practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.”
In other words, they’ve done all the hard work and you’re reaping the benefits, without permission.
There are ways in which you can protect your ‘Intellectual Property’ as it is known, to ensure that no-one else tries to pass it off as their own.
There is more information on this on the Gov.uk website https://www.gov.uk/intellectual-property-an-overview/protect-your-intellectual-property.
Unfortunately, this guidance exists because there are individuals who will copy other people’s work without giving any kind of credit or reference to the original author.
I know as this has happened to me quite recently. Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either.
So, I got to thinking why is it not a good idea to plagiarise? Here are 5 reasons:
It puts people in an uncomfortable position
Not the person who has plagiarised, well they probably will be if you call them out on it, but I was more concerned about the original author. They are the ones who must send that awkward email highlighting the issue asking them to remove their post. Who knows what kind of reaction you will receive?
It’s morally wrong
Well, it isn’t your work, you haven’t spent the time and effort coming up with the idea, writing the post, drafting and redrafting, worrying that it’s up to par. It’s stealing someone else’s Intellectual Property. It’s not nice!
It shows a lack of integrity
I mean this really isn’t good for business. What if their clients found out? Not everyone is as discrete as they could be. It could also show the original author in this light depending on which post the reader has seen first. And these could include peers or potential clients.
It shows a lack of originality and imagination and forward thinking
A person who can’t think of their own content might not be an attribute to someone else’s business. This is a big deal, especially in the VA world as we aim to bring more value to our clients’ businesses. If you have an original thought of your own, how would you be able to contribute in a valuable way to someone else’s business?
It’s misleading to the reader
A potential client could invest in someone for a specific reason: they share their values. They find out further along the line that they have been let down. People do business with people who they know, like & trust, right?
So, we know why not to do it, but what about how to avoid doing it?
I thought I would gather together a few tips on how to avoid plagiarism:
Make a proper plan for how to market yourself
This way you are investing in yourself, your business and your message. You can use your own time and creativity to identify who your target market is, create client/customer personas so that you know what kind of content would appeal to them. If you are aware of this then it’s so much easier to develop your own brand, your own voice and your own content.
Curate content – reference or quote
There are lots of ‘influencers’ around nowadays, I mean there probably always has been it’s just now they are really obvious. If you know what you want to say and what about then it’s OK to use other people’s words to do this, just make it clear that they are their words.
Curate content using apps such as Feedly or Google Search and share these. Just make sure you state what the original source was and give credit to the original author.
Even if you’re quoting a small passage, even just a few words, make sure you reference where it came from.
If you’re not sure where a quote has come from then google it. It’s so easy.
Learn about the subject of your content
Write about something you know about or if there’s something you want to write about or create content about but you’re not 100% up to speed on the subject then stick on your research head and dive in or hire a VA to do this for you! The more you know about a subject, the easier it is to write about it in your own words.
You will have gained some (more) experience in the matter. As Mark Twain said, “write what you know”.
Use a guide or plagiarism checker such as Grammarly or a free online Plagiarism Checker University students are a group of people who have specific concerns with regards to plagiarism. I saw a lot of cases of plagiarised coursework being dealt with when I worked in Higher Education. Coursework would be submitted through Turnitin which, as explained on the Minerva Support section on the University of Leeds’s website “is a submission service designed to detect and prevent plagiarism and support online grading.” https://www.leeds.ac.uk/vle/students/assess/turnitin/. I already use Grammarly for checking my spelling and grammar. To use it to check for plagiarism you do have to sign up for the Premium version. There are free online checkers available too.
Invest in yourself and get some training Maybe you’re not confident in the content you are creating? It could be time to invest in yourself and get some training in content marketing and strategy. It doesn’t have to be expensive, I’m sure there are very reasonably priced courses on websites such as Udemy. My objective for training is to gain more knowledge about content marketing and creating and curating content so that I can apply it to my business and to clients’ businesses.
So please be nice, be fair and be original.