Wick Communications

Plagiarism ain’t worth it

In Writing on August 7, 2014 at 4:15 pm

220px-John_Walsh,_official_portrait,_113th_Congress

In case you are wondering, plagiarism is a bad idea. It’s morally wrong, you will be caught eventually and, if you are a writer, it will likely render you unemployable.

Despite the obvious nature of all that, as USA Today columnist Rem Rieder noted recently, we are in the midst of a golden age of cheaters. There have been high-profile cases involving the website BuzzFeed, the New York Times and even a U.S. senator. (You might have seen that Montana Democrat John Walsh announced on Thursday that he was bowing out of his run for re-election after being caught cheating on an academic paper years earlier.)

It’s hard to understand why anyone would copy and paste the work of another. There should be no ambiguity. While some who are caught try to tell us that it was a simple mistake, the plagiarist meant to add attribution or whatever, invariably we find out that virtually no one steals the words of others only the one time. It’s almost always becomes the modus operandi.

As Rieder points out, if you steal words you will almost certainly get caught some day. Now that our stories go out worldwide over the Internet, it’s exceedingly easy to copy a block of your text, run it through the Google machine and see if the phraseology is original thought. In case you are wondering, yes, I’ve caught people working for Wick (more often than not volunteer community columnists) who had simply stolen the work of others and presented it as their own. Recently, I spoke with a Wick editor who had suspicions about one of that newspaper’s columnists. …

Do me a favor – no, do yourself a favor: Don’t do that. It’s just not worth it. Like the story you might steal from the Internet, news of your plagiarism will follow you for a long, long time and you will regret it mightily.

Clay

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