When it comes to the world of content creation, plagiarism occurs more than you might think and for a number of reasons. Sometimes, it could be accidental, where the writer isn’t even aware that they have copied something someone else has written.
But there are some cases where plagiarism is done purposefully, either as a way to get pieces written quicker or to make a client think that they’re fully-competent and well-versed in everything there is to know about the industry they need to write about.
This is known as either lazy or complete plagiarism and it’s become clear that it’s a problem that needs to be tackled, especially in the area of content production. So how can plagiarism be avoided, exactly?
When it comes to writing up your content piece, whether it be macro or micro copy, it’s important that you take your time producing it. By taking as much time as you need, you’ll be further ensuring high-quality work.
It can be tempting to simply write out a phrase or sentence word-for-word, taken directly from a source you’ve found, especially if you have a deadline to meet, but this must be avoided at all costs. If you plan your content and leave yourself enough time between deadlines, then you’ll have no reason to even consider the aforementioned.
Taking your time and being careful about the words you use and the sentences you string together will also help when it comes to the editing stage. It’s paramount that you proofread the pieces you write in order to iron out spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.
This can be quite a lengthy process if you’ve hammered out paragraphs as quickly as possible, but if you take your time, then you’ll be less likely to make these mistakes in the first place, therefore cutting the time it takes to edit the piece in half.
If you’ve used information taken from elsewhere, which is likely if you aren’t an expert in it yourself, then you need to keep all the links you have used in case you need to reference or refer back to them in the future.
Your clients might like to know where you got certain pieces of information from or where you sourced quotes and/or statistics from, so to make life easier, make sure you keep a record of all the journals, articles, papers etc you’ve used, just in case. This will also help to add to your overall credibility and general ability to source reliable links, books and journals, for example.
Researching an article often takes more time than writing it and this is because you need to gather expert and accurate information on a particular subject or topic. This is easier said than done. There are plenty of unreliable resources out there that people are all too quick to reference, so it’s important that, as a content creator, you weed out the low-quality resources from the high-quality ones.
It also helps to cross-check the information you find. Is the information you’ve gathered corroborated by any other resources you’ve found? If so, then you have reliable and accurate notes to include in your piece. If not, then keep looking for other resources and cross-check the information provided against some of the other sources you’ve found until they all say, pretty much, the same thing.
You don’t want to spend time and effort researching and writing an article that holds inaccurate, out of date or completely misleading information. Where this part of the process will take up a fair bit of your time, it’s completely necessary to make sure that the content you’re producing is, in itself, reliable. This will also help you to rank in the search engines as well as enable a solid and trustworthy reputation to be built up.
If an expert has explained something in a journal that was written by them, for example, that you cannot put into your own words, then feel free to quote the excerpt. It’s common practice in the world of copywriting as it’s often quicker than trying to decipher what a specialist has said and then translate it into your own words, you just need to be able to reference the quote properly in your article and then credit the person who said it.
The quote itself needs to be in italics and have two speech marks to open and close the sentence or paragraph. You must then use a hyphen and then name the person who said or wrote the excerpt originally. If possible, you should also add a link to the source, attributing it to the name of the person who said it and, where applicable, the company they’re writing/spokesperson for, for example:
“As world leaders head to Glasgow, Scotland to work out the next steps in the global fight against climate change, there’s one thing that could make a real difference: tackling methane. We know where it comes from, even if some industries don’t want to admit it.” – Leslie Kaufman, Bloomberg Green.
This way, if the reader clicked on the link you gave them, they’d be able to locate the exact paragraph you have quoted and see that it was in fact, in this case, Leslie Kaufman writing for Bloomberg Green who said it and that you have acknowledged the fact that this was written by another person – that work is not your own and you have been transparent by quoting it rather than trying to claim it as something you have written by not quoting it or giving the original author any credit.
It’s important that links are also provided here and if you cannot provide any links, such as if you have taken an excerpt from a book, for example, then you’ll need to reference it at the end of your article, much like you would a university assignment. Read more about quoting references in this way here. Usually, the Harvard referencing system is used as standard.
As already touched upon, proofreading the work you have written is absolutely essential when it comes to content production. Read and re-read the article you have written and maybe even get another professional in the field of content creation to read it over as well. If any editing needs to be done, make the appropriate changes and then read it through again.
Once you’re happy, put it through a content checker. Content checkers are great at picking up where plagiarism has occurred, whether it be accidental or not. If it has, even the smallest amount, then keep reworking your piece until the percentage falls as low as possible.
It’s unlikely that you’ll get a complete 0% plagiarism rate, especially if you’ve used several similar resources and you aren’t an expert in the field, but as long as it’s negligible, then it’ll be ok for publishing.
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As an experienced Copywriter, Lorna enjoys creating varied content for an abundance of different industries and sectors. From detailed, informative articles to creative infographics, she's always looking to inject originality into the work she produces. When she isn't working, Lorna runs her own lifestyle blog, plays the guitar and loves to take part in charity runs.