When Plagiarism Can Be Useful

pexels-photo-large Plagiarism is a going concern in many areas. People steal ideas, parts of text, research works, songs and poems, and use the borrowed information as their own achievements. When plagiarism facts become known to the public, offenders may bear serious punishment. The punishment for plagiarism may include termination of the work contract, expel from university or college, deprivation of rank or title, financial claims or political consequences. However, sometimes it is difficult if not impossible to determine whether the material is plagiarized. Besides, there is a chance of coincidence. And, in such cases, so-called “plagiarism” is not an offence. So, when plagiarism has a right for survival, and how can people use borrowed ideas, but avoid plagiarism?

Plagiarism is not always a crime. In fact, our life has a cyclic nature. As the time passes by, people tend to repeat some activities, actions, ideas, methods, and research options. We may observe such repetitions of the lifespans in fashion, literature, architecture, drama, arts and other areas. The same can happen in writing. People may use the ideas that have been previously offered by other academics or writers unknowingly. They may have come to the similar conclusions based on their own observations, experience and research rather than by using the material of predecessors. Thus, they may plagiarize unknowingly. In such cases, careful investigation may reveal authenticity of the intellectual property right and exculpate the person. What is more, particular type of plagiarism may be treated as a positive issue at societal level. Are you surprised? Are the questions “Why?” and “How?” settling in your mind?

The explanation is very simple. If the same idea is developed by two or more unconnected minds, this idea is worth thriving! Thus, due to the repetitious nature of our life, people may develop the similar ideas independently. For example, the Internet technology was studied and developed independently in the United States and United Kingdom. Despite the fact that the scholars of the two countries worked in the same area, their achievements cannot be treated as plagiarism. Moreover, the technical advancement has been so prominent, that it changed the lifestyle of the entire humanity.

Another case, where plagiarism facts may be excused, is a sort of self-plagiarism. P. Samuelson, the scholar in the field of Law and Information Management who works in the area of intellectual property right, offered the reasons that justify self-plagiarism in exceptional cases. The researcher argues that self-plagiarism is allowed when the author needs to restate his previous achievements that form the basis for the ongoing work. Thus, the original text serves as a ground lane for the following research. Another option, when self-plagiarism is not a crime, is when the previous text should be restated in order to add valuable facts, data or amendments. Another example when the self-plagiarism is allowed is the necessity to present the idea to the entirely new audience in difference place. The new audience here is the different community in terms of discipline (like economics and sociology community). The last excuse for self-plagiarism is when the author considers the original text perfect and impossible to be paraphrased. This type of self-plagiarism is especially relevant for poetry or creative writing, where the form makes more sense that the logic and ideas.

In any case, professional writers should avoid plagiarism is order to follow the ethical values and principles of professional writing. How to do this? Here you can find some tips on how to avoid plagiarism by paraphrasing and proper citations:

  • If you have found a perfect idea for your work, do not copy-paste. Read the text carefully, think it over, develop your own response and write down your thoughts. Check with the original and make sure you do not use more than two borrowed words in a row.

  • Cite the works you use by placing the author and date of the publication in brackets after the borrowed text.

  • Use quotations if you want to include the copy of one’s sentence. However, do not go too far. Most educational institutions do not allow more than 40 consecutive words of quoted text. That is why, try to paraphrase effectively.

  • Provide the reference page at the end of your work with the complete list of used sources. Do not worry if your list is too long. It is better to have a long list than to be accused of plagiarism!

By using these simple tips, you will always manage to avoid plagiarism and keep your reputation clear from unnecessary allegations. However, you may still use self-plagiarism when your current research is based on your previous achievements.