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Do you check content for plagiairsm?

  1. Yes, I am currently using a plagiairsm checker

  2. Not yet, but I want to check my content for plagiairsm

  3. I used plagiarism checker in past but now I do not see the point

  4. No, I never used it and will not use it

  5. Ha? What are you talking about?

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  1. Crawl
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    Crawl Member

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    Plagiarism Checker: Necessity or Not?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Crawl, Feb 26, 2015.

    Dear writers and WF guests. I am quite sure that most of you have heard or even faced with plagiarism related questions/problems on your writing way. After a short chat with some writers, I discovered that some of them do not use plagiarism checker and ignore accidental plagiarism risks. It is quite strange for me, as we all read the same forums, books, thoughts and can accidentally repeat whole sentences in our own content.

    Here I want to conduct a short poll about plagiarism and similarity detectors. I would really appreciate if you also add a comment with your current occupation (writer, publisher, etc.).
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2015
  2. Crawl
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    I am using a plagiarism checker (freelance writer)
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2015
  3. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    If plagiarism is defined as the intentional appropriation of another's words to be presented as one's own work, then self-plagiarism is impossible, as is accidental plagiarism, so I guess I have no idea what you're asking about.
     
  4. Crawl
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    stevesh, I am sorry, I ask only about accidental plagiarism. It is still plagiarism and can also result in fines or reputation damage.
     
  5. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Plagiarism, by definition, cannot be accidental.
     
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  6. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    It's not something I've ever considered as I'm too busy learning the ropes and getting the damn thing written to worry about whether someone else has pipped me to the post. It strikes me that the folks who need worry are those whose work appears obviously derivative. Personally, I'd rather plough my own furrow than plough someone else's, and as for accidental plagiarism, that seems unlikely when my work draws little inspiration from the work of others. Basically, the odds aren't very high, so it's not something I need to unduly concern myself with right now, and I have no experience of using a checker.

    Now if, when the time comes, a Beta said, "This all seems a bit familiar," then I'd have a rethink. :D

    As for my occupation... I guess for now, the closest thing I have to an occupation is artist, and that is another example of a field with the potential for plagiarism. I don't pay that much mind either. ;)
     
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  7. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I did freelance writing for a few years and never used one. If I was buying content, I might, but if you're producing content you don't need one unless you really are passing off other people's work as your own and are trying to figure out how close to the line you can get and still fool the checkers.
     
  8. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    That's a fair point @Steerpike makes about using one for checking third party content before uploading it onto a site. In that scenario I can quite clearly see the benefit to the person who would be held responsible.
     
  9. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    It is certainly possible to plagiarize unintentionally. In fact, at most academic institutions (probably even all), the consequences are the same for both intentional and unintentional plagiarism. I imagine it's the same with publishers/editors.
     
  10. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    Could you explain how that would work? It seems unlikely that a considerable sample of your work would stick in my head long enough for me to a) forget that I read it, and b) use it in something of mine. A few words of yours that appear in my work could easily be written off as coincidence.
     
  11. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    But a "plagiarism checker" isn't going to help with that kind of plagiarism. It will check for identical or near-identical phrasing, rather than, "You know, this interpretation of Lincoln's motives in the Civil War is similar to the one presented by..." or "You know, this plot about a stolen rain boot has the same general solution as Agatha Christie's plot about a stolen gill of shrimps..."

    I can't see how a plagiarism checker could possibly have any function for the author of a work, as opposed to someone (a teacher or editor or publisher) who is accepting the work.
     
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  12. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    I tried the free version of Grammarly awhile back on several of my house blog posts and on a little of my fiction. It said it was all plagiarized.

    BS.

    I think it was a ploy to get me into enough of a paranoid panic to buy the full version. Again I say, BS. It was my work and I'm standing by it.
     
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  13. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    The most common example is when students use someone's idea but forget to cite the source. This happens a lot in academia. In a lot of cases, it's a complete accident (e.g., the student didn't think it necessary to cite the source), but it's still considered plagiarism.

    You're right that a plagiarism checker isn't going to help in certain situations. I was merely responding to Steerpike's claim about accidental plagiarism.
     
  14. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    The reason accidental lifting of other works or ideas is a problem in academia, at least when I was there, is that no one can really determine whether it was accidental. If you could just say it was accidental, anyone could get away with it. It's more a policy question, but it doesn't change the definition of plagiarism.
     
  15. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    None of the definitions I've come across explicitly mention intent.
     
  16. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I feel that we're talking about two different kinds of plagiarism. Plagiarism in the sense of re-using someone's writing word for word is all but impossible to commit without intent. Plagiarism in the sense of being guided by someone else's idea, without realizing that the idea didn't originate with oneself, would be quite possible without intent. However, I don't think that the second kind is much of an issue in fiction writing--you might be criticized for lack of originality, but I don't think that it's a legal or professional offense.
     
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  17. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Yes, I can agree that copying ideas doesn't apply for fiction, but the OP was talking about writers in general. He also mentioned he's a freelance writer, which I take to mean he writes articles and other such nonfiction. In that case, taking someone's idea and not crediting him/her for it is certainly a possibility.
     
  18. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    All of the ones I pulled up require an actual taking or passing off as opposed to independently arriving at the same idea. The idea that the latter is plagiarism doesn't make a lot of sense in my view.
     
  19. Bryan Romer
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    In the field of fiction, unless the work is perilously close to fan fiction, I find it hard to believe that anyone can accidentally commit plagiarism. Basically there has to be some degree of deliberate imitation to bring the work so close to an existing work that it could be challenged on that basis.

    For instance, if I took Moby Dick, changed the names and moved the whole thing into space, it is unlikely to be called plagiarism, unless large blocks of the actual text were duplicated.

    However, in academic writing, the risk is much greater, since the very concepts at the base of the article may be the result of research and investigation.
     
  20. ChickenFreak
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    I didn't think that borrowing an idea was actionable, outside an academic situation. Ideas not copyrightable, and all that.
     
  21. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    No, I do not use a plagiarism checker, and it is not a "necessity".

    An algorithm cannot understand human thought. It can detect texts that look similar, not texts that mean similar things. If the goal is to avoid similar-looking text, then maybe an algorithm can help. But I cannot imagine why I would have that goal. I stand by what I write. If I discover something else that appears similar, then that changes nothing. What I wrote is what I wanted to write.

    And even if I do write a sentence and then discover I am actually subconsciously repeating something I once read... so what? What do I do, put it in quotation marks and insert a citation in case anyone actually cares who deserves credit for that one sentence? Reword it? (Again, I stand by what I write.)
     
  22. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    If a student "didn't think to cite the source", it wasn't an accident. Either, he thought he could get away with passing it off as his own, or he hadn't been taught the rules about citing.
     

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