Answers to Questions About Plagiarism
Constant Content takes plagiarism seriously – so seriously, in fact, that any author who is caught in the act of plagiarism has his or her account immediately suspended. The author is then banned from submitting articles to Constant Content from that point forward.
But fear not! If you’re an ethical writer who produces only original content and follows the rules of using sources correctly, you won’t have to worry about plagiarism.
Because plagiarism is such an important issue, we want to help clarify some common questions and concerns authors may have about the topic.
Why Do We Care About Plagiarism?
Constant Content has a zero-tolerance policy for plagiarism for two reasons:
- It’s wrong. When a person takes a writer’s words and ideas and uses them as his own, it’s considered stealing. Look at it this way: How would you feel if you had worked diligently on an article, conducting all of your own research and sweating over every word, only to have someone take your work – without giving you anything in return – and claim she wrote it? You’d be steamed, wouldn’t you? You’d be even more steamed if that person got paid for your work. The golden rule applies to writing as much as it does anywhere else. Treat other writers’ work the way you want your work treated.
- Search engines penalize webmasters who publish content that is not original. If we sell content that is not original to customers, everyone is hurt – the customer, you, and Constant Content. Customers need original content so their websites can thrive. If their websites thrive as a result of their purchases made at Constant Content, guess what? They will return to Constant Content to purchase more articles. They may even purchase their next article from you.
Search engines are getting increasingly smart about duplicate content and content that is very similar to information published elsewhere. Webmasters don’t want to pay for copycat material. It’s useless to them because it won’t get them noticed by search engines, and they may even be penalized for including such content on their pages.
What Is Plagiarism?
Our guidelines say that plagiarism includes:
- Using text taken directly from another source and presenting this information as your own.
- Rewrites or partial rewrites of articles by other authors.
Using high-tech checks, editors determine when plagiarism has occurred. Some examples of plagiarism are included below. Please note that plagiarism is not limited to these examples.
- Taking paragraphs from a government-produced PDF file and inserting them into your article.
- Rewriting a list of tips created by someone else, changing the order in which the tips appear, and changing the title of the article.
- Taking someone else’s article and using synonyms for all of the adjectives in the piece.
- Taking paragraphs from five different articles on the same subject and assembling them to create a new article.
- Using another author’s description of a scientific study as your own.
- Rewriting another author’s article sentence by sentence.
- Using text from another source without properly indicating that it is from that source/not using citations.
- Interspersing text from one source with your own words.
- Using quotes gathered by a reporter without citing the source of the original quotation.
- Taking text from print or even out-of-print publications and using it as your own.
- Using large chunks of information without changing it and including a citation to the original source at the bottom of the piece.
How Can You Avoid Plagiarism?
The editors at Constant Content marvel at the lengths some people go to plagiarize. In many cases, it is often easier to write original content than it is to try to use someone else’s work without getting caught! In other cases, we do understand that what constitutes plagiarism results from failure to understand the rules. Protect yourself by not plagiarizing – even by “accident”– and learn how to properly quote and cite sources.
What are some steps you can take to avoid plagiarism?
1. Research and write on separate days.
If you’re like many writers, words and phrases can stick in your head, especially if you’ve liked another writer’s turn of phrase or way of dealing with a complicated description. That’s why it’s important to give yourself enough time between research and writing to forget the original authors’ words. You don’t want to inadvertently repeat what the original writer has said about your topic while her words are still fresh in your mind. Consider researching one day and writing the next day if your deadline permits.
For example, let’s say you’re researching information for an article about heart-healthy diets. Take notes from respected sources as accurately as possible in your own words. By taking notes in your own words and not copying and pasting text into a word-processing document, you’ve already separated yourself from the original author’s work by one degree. Be sure to include your sources in your notes. Once you’ve done your research, shift gears. A good suggestion for clearing your mind is to do the dishes, walk the dog, eat lunch, run an errand, or complete another task unrelated to the hearth-healthy diets article.
After you’ve allowed what you’ve read to grow stale, write your first draft from scratch in new language, using your notes only as needed. If you realize you must recheck a fact, review your notes or go back to the original source, always making sure to paraphrase.
Include your sources at the end of the article. You can use any style of reference that you choose as long as web references follow our guidelines (no http://www. and no hyperlinks). If you have no directly quoted text within the document and your sources are general, you can create a simple reference list at the bottom of the article. Depending upon how proprietary the information is (for example, statistics), you may want to consider in-text references that point to more complete citations at the end of the article.
2. Understand how to quote sources.
Generally, you should keep quoted material to a minimum. (Remember how we said that search engines don’t like duplicate content?) When quotations are necessary, we ask that they constitute no more than 10% of the article.
Quoting material incorrectly can get your article rejected for originality. Quoting a source incorrectly means that the reader can’t tell where your text ends and the original author’s text begins, that you have taken too much information from the original article, that you have failed to include proper attribution, or a combination of the above.
Proper ways to quote text:
Short in-text quotes must be surrounded by quotation marks and accompanied by a citation.
- Charlie Webmaster told The New York Times, “Constant Content is the best source for original articles.”
- According to Dr. Knowitall in I Heart Health, his first book, “A heart-healthy diet includes plenty of fruits and vegetables high in vitamins Z, Q, and X.”
- In his new travelogue, A. Bestselling Writer described Ohio as “a quiet and compelling place to raise a family.”
On rare occasions, you’ll need to quote a longer chunk of text. You can’t use quotation marks for this type of quotation. You need to use block quotes and a proper reference. Block quotes set off the quoted text from the writer’s original text through the use of margins.
The now-extinct boola flower of Southwestern Guinea was described in 1855 by Albrecht Tafelspitz in his book, A Wayfarer’s Exceedingly Wordy Journal:
The enormous boola flower is blood-red in color and emits an odor like that of rotting bananas. This foul fragrance is said to be able to carry for miles, attracting large game. Once the elephant, tigress, or emu is within the flower’s “grasp,” the plant shoots out tendrils of incredible thickness and strength, which ensnare the beast in a terrible vice, immobilizing it. Thus suffocated, the creature becomes a feast for the carnivorous botanical.
The boola flower has an insatiable appetite. A Hungarian count, with whom I shared a most amiable glass of sherry, has indicated this flower’s need to nourish itself may be one reason the numbers of large game on the island are dwindling so rapidly. He showed me his impressive collection of hunting trophies, beasts that had been saved from the boola flower’s feasts.
Even if you include in-text references, it’s still good to include a list of more complete references at the end of the article.