providing attribution

4 Ways to Catch and to Prevent Plagiarism

catch and prevent plagiarismNobody wants plagiarism on their blog or online publication, but it can be tough to prevent and harder to catch. It's tempting for some to plagiarize with the ease and wealth of information out there, and a misunderstand of what plagiarism is can mean false positives (and false negatives) upon your editorial review. To make this process as painless as possible, here are four ways to catch and to prevent plagiarism.

Use Google Instead

Instead of relying on those services that not only cost money to use extensively, but aren't as reliable as we need, use Google and search engines instead. Not only is it free every single time (and it probably searches more sites than those services), but it's also a lot easier to check for attribution, to check if the text even needs attribution, or to see if the text should remain as is (such as a direct quote or a definition). It's also easier to check for those other forms of plagiarism, such as taking another's idea and passing it as one's own.

Encourage Writers to Create Original Stories

If  all your publication is doing is rehashing the news and stories of others, then you risk more plagiarism then you may think. As we said our introduction to plagiarism article, just because the text doesn't match anywhere else online doesn't mean that it's not plagiarism. If you're writing about a hot topic, and simply reciting the analysis of others, that is plagiarism unless the ideas are properly cited. To avoid this problem (and to avoid looking like you need to piggyback on everyone else's news stories to build an audience), encourage your writers to find their own news stories, or to come up with their own angles and analysis to current news. It may feel like you need to content out there as soon as possible, but doing that doesn't mean anything if it's just the reinvention of someone else's content and ideas in the first place.

Trust Your Writers

If you make it known that your going to screen every article that comes through, only to send it back because one sentence happens to match another somewhere online (or it includes a phone number or a book title, both of which these services will catch and mark as plagiarism), then you risk scaring away good writers who do good work but are afraid of being accused of plagiarism. You will then be stuck with the writers who will game the plagiarism-catching services to make sure the content passes, or you will get writers who write so poorly that it's not anywhere online (it's so bad that no one else would take their work)  Also understand how easy it is to game the plagiarism software. All one needs to do is change every third or fourth word and it passes. If you trust your writers to do the right thing, then you'll get the writers that are worth trusting. Of course, if you suspect something, use Google.

Also understand that having a sentence or two in one article match another's content somewhere out there isn't going to hurt your search engine rankings and isn't going to get you blacklisted. Your site isn't going to make anyone mad by doing that. Relax, and worry about providing awesome content to your readers instead of pleasing the search engines. Search engines don't read your articles or buy your products anyway.

Set a Policy and Make Your Writers Aware of It

It doesn't help if only you know what plagiarism is and your writer's don't. This will only lead to misunderstandings. If you don't yet have a policy on plagiarism, set one and let your writer's know what this policy is and what counts as plagiarism. If you do have one, then make sure this is something everyone understands and is held accountable for when they join the team. Not holding people to the policy is just as bad, if not worse, then not having one at all.

How to Use Pictures with Your Blog or Online Publication

using stock photos You can make the web pages of your blog or online publication fascinating and inviting to your visitors with high quality pictures. Besides good content, visitors like the feel images and graphics bring to their reading experience. The impression simulates the experience of an exceptional restaurant, where people go for the cuisine and to take in the aesthetics, ambiance, and layout. The same concept applies to a blog or online publication, as images also provide the following benefits:

  • Make the blog or content more memorable to the reader.
  • Strengthen the author’s statements, arguments, or opinions.
  • Hold attention as the person peruses the text.

Here are some considerations and tips for applying pictures on your web property:

Finding Images

All photographs, graphics, videos, or other images, on the Internet or offline, fall under the protection of copyright laws. The rules require you to obtain the owner’s permission to use the work in any manner. In most cases, you must also give the author the appropriate credit for the work.

Some websites like Flickr’s Creative Commons offer free images, but the user has an obligation to follow the owners’ guidelines for the use and attribution. Wikimedia Commons provides another option for finding free images.

Large commercial companies use image stock houses as their primary source of photos and other images for their web properties and publications. These works can be expensive for the average person, but many stock photo websites, such as FreeDigitalPhotos, Stock.XCHNG, Dreamstime, and Veer, offer thousands of free stock photos.

With the proliferation of inexpensive camera phones and digital cameras available, many people snap their own photos to use in their blog. If you take this route, use only relevant, good quality images. Consider opening an account on Flickr to share your images with other bloggers and website owners.

Editing or Altering Images

It is illegal to edit or to alter an original work in any manner without receiving the written permission from the original owner.  Even if you have the owner’s permission to make alterations to the work, you must still give the original creator of the work the attribution, even if you edit it.

Give Credit to the Original Author

Once you download a free image or receive permission to use a photograph from the owner, you must give the creator the proper credit. Display the attribution in a prominent place near the image. Make sure the name links back to the web address or source of the photograph when possible.  In addition, make the font size you use for the credit the same size as the caption.

Understanding Creative Common Licenses

Flickr offers six types of Creative Common licenses. If you intend to use work from this huge inventory of photographs, make sure you understand the requirements.

Any image you select from the Flickr site will have one of the following licenses:

1.      Attribution: You can copy, publish, distribute, create a derivative or alter the work and use it for commercial purposes it.

2.      Attribution – No Derivs: This license carries all the rights of the Attribution License with one exception: you cannot alter the original image in any manner, which includes cropping, adding text, and Photoshop.

3.      Attribution – Non Commercial: You cannot – directly or indirectly-- use the work for business purposes or personal gain. Other than the expressed exception mentioned above, this license as all the rights listed under license number 1.

4.      Attribution – Non Commercial –Noderiv: You cannot use this work for commercial purposes and the image must remain in its original form.

5.      Attribution – Share Alike: Use works under this license in any manner you choose-- similar to any Wikimedia content or images. You still have an obligation to give credit to the author.  If your creation results in a new image, it must have the same license.

6.      Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike: The same stipulations as outlined above, but you cannot use it for a commercial venture.

The first two categories of Flickr’s Creative Commons provide a source of over 100 million photographs and images. Make sure you understand the license limitations when selecting pictures and assure you avoid any problems with copyright violations.

Optimize Your Images

If you have Photoshop, GIM, or comparable photo-editing software, consider optimizing your pictures. The process simply entails making the file size smaller by reducing the quality level. Be careful not to degrade the image by making it too small. Optimizing your images becomes significant if you have a lot of images on your blog, which slow down the loading time for your web pages. This annoyance may cause visitors to become impatient and abandon your site.