As a writer, you probably realize that plagiarism is a big no-no. Not only does plagiarism steal someone else’s work, but if you’re caught, it can also significantly harm your reputation. Many writers would never intentionally plagiarize, but accidental plagiarism does exist, and some writers may not be aware of how to avoid it. Understanding unintentional plagiarism can help you avoid accidentally using someone else’s work without giving credit to the writer.
How does unintentional plagiarism happen?
Accidental plagiarism happens when you use someone else’s content without giving them credit, but it usually happens when you either forget to cite a source or you don’t cite sources properly. Some writers may copy and paste direct content from other authors using this information as a placeholder but then forget to change the information and include the source where it came from. Some inexperienced writers may think that simply moving a few words around makes an idea their own. But this can still be considered plagiarism in some cases.
Avoiding accidental plagiarism
Citation rules differ based on what you’re writing. Direct quotes are useful, but as a general rule, they should make up around 10% or less of the whole article. When you use a direct quote, you should always use quotation marks and link or list the source where the quote came from. When paraphrasing, use footnotes to show where you got the information. When it comes to generally known information, citations and sources are usually not required. If you’re worried about unintentional plagiarism, you can use an online plagiarism detection program to check your work.
Plagiarism is a serious problem and with instant access to information through online media, it’s easy to steal someone else’s content. Most writers don’t want to be accused of plagiarizing someone else’s work. But it can happen accidentally. Be sure to know when it’s appropriate to cite sources and follow the standard rules based on the type of writing you do. Avoid unintentional plagiarism as it could have a significant impact on your reputation and your career as a writer.