Copying Someone Else's Work
With the invent of Internet programs like Copyscape, a publisher can now check the content that they plan to display on a web site for plagiarism. Well, that is how a service like this is hyped. In reality what the program checks is writing patterns. It will look at a variety of words within the content to be tested and search its records for anything that may be remotely considered duplicate content. It is hard to say what the actual threshold of these types of programs are, but they will generally be able to sniff out copied work with relative ease based on patterns.
Here is an example. The nursery rhyme for Humpty Dumpty returns quite a few results for plagiarism if run through Copyscape. As well it should because that rhyme if repeated in the content of a web page would probably never be altered and be displayed in its original format.
Now, if the name Humpty Dumpty is replaced with a generic name like George and references to the King are replaced with references to George's Father, guess what happens when this is run through Copyscape? It fails just like the original rhyme. The reason is that even though the text has changed, the pattern has not. This is where some content writers get into trouble. You cannot just change a few random pieces of text within content and call it your own work. Even simple programs like Copyscape will recognize errors like that. If you are researching content and you are going to write about it, your new content can convey the same message but it has to be in your own language.
Plagium is another intuitive tool you can use to check for plagiarism. Simply copy, then paste any excerpt of text into the field and click the track plagiarism button. Plagium displays the duplicate content in a graph so you can track the plagiarized content by date and reoccurrence.
The Plagium Timeline tracks the usage of text over time. This can be a useful tool for a quick glance at how often a text block in question is reused and propagated to different web publications. Each detected occurrence of the text under investigation is indicated by a "bubble" along the timeline. The larger the bubble, the more the retrieved web page matches the text. Note: some dates may be inaccurate because our system only detects the date of the web page containing the text, not necessarily the date the text was created.
To sum up, you have to remember that as a content writer, you are assembling content based off of a set of instructions given to you from a client. In researching the material to use for the content of the project, you must create unique text as well as text that does not make bold claims under any circumstances. Frankly a publisher can add those claims to the material you produce after it has been completed. Further, you must also ensure that the text you use within the content is not directly copied. You must avoid plagiarizing others as well as yourself. If you manage to follow those simple rules when writing content, it is very likely that your writing will be accepted by clients without question.
Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He's one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don't even want to know what he calls pancakes.