Plagiarism rears its digital head

Plagiarism is not just a student issue. It’s a people issue. And plagiarism becomes an even broader issue in the realm of digital media.

(tweet embedded using the new WordPress version of “Blackbird Pie”)

Plagiarism occurs when someone uses another’s work without giving credit to the author. Unfortunately, in digital communication, students (and apparently editors) will say, “I downloaded it myself, therefore it is my own work” or “Information on the Internet is in the public domain.” These are simply not the case. In the incident mentioned above by @Mashable, plagiarism occurred across media. Text was taken from a website and published in a magazine. Cross-media publishing muddies the water even more.

In an effort toward personal integrity, let us all make an attempt to cite our sources:

If I use an image that I did not design or take with my camera, I should cite my source.
If I quote the words of another person, I should cite my source.
If I copy an excerpt of someone’s writing, I should cite my source.
If I use music, audio, or video that I did not originally record, I should cite my source.

What’s the best way to do digital source citation?

  1. GIVE CREDIT: When writing someone else’s words or ideas, give them a shout-out. You could do this in writing, with an image, or a brief mention in parentheses.
  2. BE THOROUGH: Provide enough information. The reader should be able to find the original source from the information you include.
  3. LINK BACK: Contemporary “net-iquette” suggests that in addition to citing your source, you should also link back to the original source. I usually link the image to its original site or embed a hyperlink in the text of the source citation.
  4. EMBED, when possible: YouTube, Twitter’s Blackbird Pie, Scribd, Slideshare, and other web-based tools allow you to embed the media you’ve chosen to use. This is an easy way to give credit back to the original author. Embedding creates an automatic source citation for you.

What other strategies are best practices for avoiding digital plagiarism?


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