Sequel to the recent shutting down of the popular Lindaikeji.blogspot.com, it is paramount for bloggers, websites administrators and users of online content to make a conscious effort to avoid Plagiarism.
In a response to Punch newspapers inquiry into the matter, Google’s Manager for Communications and Public Affairs, Anglo-Phone West Africa, Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade, explains how Google clearly spells out how users of its products and services can get permission to use someone else’s intellectual property such as text, songs, images and footages.
He explains further “Google as an organisation takes issues of copyright seriously and belongs to a group of digital companies that respect copyrights”.
“Copyright is a big deal and this is why you can’t just go and pick up another person’s intellectual property or content and lay claim to its ownership”.
“People should also understand that copyrights does not only apply to text, but also extends to literary works, images and photographs, music files and MP3s, movies, movie trailers and videos as well as software,” Kola-Ogunlade added.
While updating myself about copyright infringement laws, I came across 7 steps by WikiHow on How to Avoid Plagiarism.
Here is how you can make sure you don't plagiarize on purpose or by accident.
1. Understand what plagiarism is. The American Heritage dictionary defines plagiarism as: "the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work."Thus plagiarism not only includes the word-for-word copying of another piece of work, but close imitation of it also. Using synonyms and other word choices is not an excuse to justify plagiarism. You should write a piece of text strictly in your own words and then cite your sources.
· Original source: "The law of the land prohibited slaves from seeking remuneration from their masters for even the most heinous crimes."
· Plagiarizing: "The law of the land forbade slaves from seeking damages from their masters for even the most vile crimes."
· Not plagiarizing: "Even injured, tortured, or taunted slaves could not press for remuneration from their masters according to United States law at the time. (Jefferson, 157)
2. Be familiar in the area that you are talking about. By understanding the subject, you are more likely to write in your own words, rather than restate someone else's definition of this subject. Look for information on the topic you want to write about. This can be on the Internet or in books, although books are almost always more authoritative than the Internet.
· The trick here is to grab several different sources of information. If you're relying on just one source — a book about slavery — the chances are higher you'll inadvertently copy or plagiarize. If you rely on three books about slavery, one documentary, and two original sources, the chances are much lower that you'll inadvertently plagiarize.
3. Restate the subject to yourself a couple of times. The key is to understand the material and be able to express its meaning in your own words. Try to avoid reading from another author's material too much, as you will be more inclined to restate that author's exact statement.
· Original source: "Slaves worked grueling 12-hour days, from sun-up to sun-down, surviving on little more than 1,200 calories of starches and their own blood, sweat, and tears."
· Reworked: "Surviving on about half of what we today consider the suggested caloric intake, slaves in the 19th century worked bitter, back-breaking hours. (Jefferson, 88)"
· Reworked: "In the 19th century, slaves worked for as long as there was light, receiving little in the way of nutrition. (Jefferson, 88)"
4. Reference your quotes and sources. You should include a bibliography or works cited in your paper. If you use a direct quote from another author's work, then you should quote it and cite it properly. Many teachers accept the standard MLA format, unless otherwise specified.
5. When in doubt, give credit. There are a lot of ways to do this in order to avoid plagiarism. Here are a few:
· Mention the source inside your paraphrase: "According to Richard Feynman, quantum electrodynamics can be described using path integral formulations."
· Put quotation marks around unique phrases you think could be interpreted as being copied: "A 'paradigm shift' happens when one scientific revolution forces the community to think of the world in a fundamentally different way."
6. Understand some basics about copyright. Plagiarism can be more than a bad academic practice, it can be a violation of the law if you break copyright. Here is what you need to understand to stay legal:
· As a general rule, facts cannot be copyrighted. This means that you are able to use any facts you find to support your writing.
· Although facts are not subject to copyright, the words used to express them are, particularly if the wording is original or unique (copyright covers original expression). You are free to use information from other materials in your articles, but you must use your own words to express it. To avoid this, you can take the existing facts and put them into your own words. There is a grace on how different the phrase can be; adding a comma is not enough. However, changing the grammar around is.
7. Understand what doesn't need to be cited. Not every single thing in academic research needs to be cited, or else research would be too painful for people to undertake. The following things don't need to be cited in your research and final papers:
· Common sense observations, folklore, urban legends, and well known historical events, such as the date of the Pearl Harbor Attacks.
· Your own experiences, insights, creations, and musings.
· Your own videos, presentations, music, and other media created and originated by you.
· The scientific evidence you gathered after performing your own tests, polls, etc.