poetri

United States

the color of the ocean

Message to Readers

Be sure to check out Writers of the World's updates and take on this (and other) important wtw situations here!
https://bit.ly/2MkoUZR

Plagiarism, Citations, and Other Fun Things You May Have Forgotten in English Class

June 24, 2020

FREE WRITING

68
While I'm not typically one to get involved with conflict, every so often something comes around that, while it may be deemed controversial or conflict-inducing, is important enough to say that I don't care. I do usually try to avoid this kind of thing, though, especially online I just find it nerve-wracking and 90% of the time unnecessary. However, In the past few months I have noticed quite a bit of plagiarism here on wtw. While I have tried to politely call out those that I found, I've been made aware there has been much, much more than the little bit I've seen. Plagiarism is against Write the World's policy and even if it wasn't, as young writers it should be against our own. Every single writer on here works hard on their pieces and for someone to plagiarize it is not acceptable behavior. In fact, it's gotten adults arrested and students kicked out of schools and colleges. Definitely not a minor thing that we can try to blur the lines on.
    That all said, the lines might seem a little blurry, especially to our younger half who may not have learned about it in school yet (or parts of the older half that forgot!) Allow me to explain.

Plagiarism, as defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary is, "to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own use (another's production) without crediting the source; to commit literary theft : present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source" 
    So to put it simply, plagiarism is the act of stealing either someone's writing or their ideas, and many times it can easily be prevented by doing two things: asking the original writer or owner's permission to use their ideas or republish their words, and then properly citing the original piece as your source (which we'll get to later.)
    After that, it gets complicated. I can see you scratching your heads, wondering "Well what about fanfiction?" or "How about paraphrasing? Those are valid questions and I'll do my best to explain them (and any others you have. Ask away in the comments, I make sure to respond to every single question!)

Fanfics are NOT plagiarism. Usually.
(I've only seen this been mistakenly called out once, but I did want to include just because I used to wonder and thought you might, too. Besides, it's good to know.) I can hear it now..."But Riley, fanfics use characters from another writer's work, right? So why isn't it plagiarism?" 
    And while it's true fanfics do use someone else's original characters, they have their own original plots. They aren't being sneaky or coming up with things like "Parry Hotter and the Philosopher's Rock" to try and put authors out of business. In fact, they're almost constantly referencing the original source! Also, fanfics are typically posted on sites like wtw, prose, tumblr, and wattpad where they can be read for free, therefore not infringing on any profit the author would make on her book series. They do not interfere with sales of the actual work (in fact, they may heighten it) and so long as it stays that way, it's all legal and everyone is fine and dandy.
    However, to publish a fanfic in print and then try to sell it at a bookstore or online is not legal. (This is where it kind of gets a little confusing.) To make money off your fanfic would infringe on the copyright on the actual author's books and characters. While the plot may be your own, to use someone else's characters or settings you'd need to get their explicit permission to sell and earn profit off of it. The original author would need to legally write and sign to you some of the rights on their characters or franchise.

Paraphrasing is NOT plagiarism. 
Let's get something straight about paraphrasing. It is NOT changing one or two words. Doing that would be plagiarizing. To paraphrase is to completely change the sentence/paragraph/whatever to say what you need it to say with the material it said before. So if I wanted to write about, say, Lemony Snicket, I'd have to change the material I found from this Wikipedia article...

"Lemony Snicket is the pen name of American novelist Daniel Handler (born February 28, 1970). Handler has published several children's books under the name, most notably A Series of Unfortunate Events, which has sold over 60 million copies and spawned a 2004 film and TV series from 2017 to 2019."

to this...

Lemony Snicket is a pseudonym of author Daniel Handler, most widely known for the "A Series of Unfortunate Events" books, the inspred movie, and television show that came after.

While I changed the wording, however, I'd still need to cite my source because it's where I got the information.

Not taking the entire article is still plagiarism.
"But I didn't use the whole piece!"
    Yeah, well think of it as a meal plan. You have your grandma's old recipe cards for turkey, green beans, and mashed potatoes. You let your neighbor see them for a potluck she's going to and she only decides to make the mashed potatoes. She may not be using the whole meal, but would that make it okay for her to pass the one dish off as her own? No way! You'd want credit where credit was due, and it works the same way with books and articles. Authors deserve credit for what they've worked hard to do. It's easy to give it, too, and that perfectly leads us into our next section...

Citiations are easy!
(By the way, these are just the citations I have learned. If you know of other ways to do it, feel free to shout them out down below!) 

How to cite a book:
Author's last name, Author's first name, "Book Title." Publication City, Publisher, Publishing Date

How to cite a site (see what I did there...ahaha, yeah, I'm not funny):
Author's last name, Author's first name, "Article Title." Website Title, Publisher, Publication date, Medium, Date Accessed.

When writing papers for school, your teacher will typically ask that you compile your citations on a bibliography page, or, for direct quotes in the text, in the footnotes of the page they are found on. Here on wtw, they should be put in the footnotes section down below. If any of the required information is not stated anywhere in the article or site, it is acceptable to cite without it.

Thank you guys so much for reading this. I know it was long but it's important to know, especially as a writer. Everyone on here has so much talent and plagiarism is never necessary to gain attention. Always make sure your writing is your own work, and remember it's totally okay (and actually very flattering) to ask someone if you can write a piece based on, quoting, or continuing one of theirs.
    Lastly, I'm not trying to to come for anyone or offend anyone here, I just wanted to help. If you find anything said in this piece in any way offensive, tell me and I'll edit it out. Have an amazing day, write free, and let's continue being the awesome community I know we are.
Sources:
1. "Plagiarize (definition)" merriamwebster.com/dictionary, Merriam Webster. Website. Accessed May 30, 2020.
2. Litte, Jane. "Fan Fiction, Plagiarism, and Copyright." dearauthor.com, Dear Author Media Network, 2012. Website. Accessed May 30, 2020.
3. "Lemony Snicket." wikipedia.com, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, 2020. Website. Accessed May 30, 2020.

Print

See History
  • June 24, 2020 - 8:36am (Now Viewing)

Login or Signup to provide a comment.

34 Comments
  • luluwrites111

    Also easybib.com is good for automatically creating citations! I use it all the time


    3 months ago
  • outoftheblue

    hey, I noticed that you had deleted your comment on my free reviews piece. was that by mistake? because if so I'd be happy to review any of your pieces, but if not that's okay too!


    4 months ago
  • fatpanda

    replying: reading the piece, i understand some of the references, but i don't think i'd be able to review it properly simply because of the disparity in our experiences. i assume that you would have several references to whatever is going on in america rn, but since i know only what the media tells me, i don't think i will be able to pick up on them. could you perhaps give me another piece to review? apologies for the headache lol


    4 months ago
  • fatpanda

    hey, i'll start reviewing your piece 'american unproud' soon, but before i start do you think there's some material i should read to make me understand the piece better?


    4 months ago
  • Anne Blackwood

    Replying: Lots of smiling (and teary eyes) going on over here. Thank you. <3


    4 months ago
  • løne wølf

    This needed to be said! Thank you!


    4 months ago
  • ~wildflower~

    Replying: Thanks so much for your comment on my price and follow!! It was so uplifting and encouraging, especially coming from a knowledgeable and really good writer like you! XD This piece is so helpful, by the way. Thanks again :)


    5 months ago
  • Cressida

    This is probably the most-liked piece I've seen on WtW (in my shabby one month here), and I can see why it has 60+ likes. Plagiarism is a thing NO ONE should do, and you write so elegantly about it while educating others on this important issue. More people definitely need to see this post!


    5 months ago
  • Samina

    Omg! Poetri congratulations! This piece is touching new records. You deserve all of this. Your very supportive and helpful. May God bless you!!!!! <3


    5 months ago
  • Deleted User

    Thank you for writing this :)


    5 months ago
  • happy butterfly

    Thanks for publishing this;)


    5 months ago
  • sunny.v

    i came back here and it seems like this really is becoming a wtw foundational document! well deserved, honestly. happy pride to you too! (a lot of us have matching rainbow icons hehe and it makes the dash just so satisfying for me to look at)


    5 months ago
  • Writers of the World

    Here are some helpful sites to make your links shorter (so they can fit in your 'Message' box):
    https://bitly.com/
    https://tinyurl.com/

    Feel free to use (or not)!


    5 months ago
  • the contrarian

    Nice work. We need more educational pieces like this on Write the World.


    5 months ago
  • SunV

    Replying: Yes, I think I messed up the songs. I wanted to include both, being a Fanderwaal myself, but I had quite a lot of songs, and I tried to do one from each Artist. Either ways, both 'City Song' and 'So Much More Than This' are amazing. Just think of it as a two in one :)


    5 months ago
  • Emi

    This is really helpful and I'm glad you remind everyone to do this! Especially for informative work, we need to remember to properly cite things, rather than just providing the link. It only takes a few more minutes of time and is very helpful.


    5 months ago
  • Anha

    i do believe this is approaching the milestone of one of the most liked pieces on wtw in the extended history of the site - well done! i love the tone you manage to convey; you are frank and open without losing any of your informative structure. thank you for making yourself heard - we all know why.


    5 months ago
  • cherryn

    This was so helpful! If you ever see anything of mine that goes against WTW's guidelines, please let me know, and I'll fix it right away.


    5 months ago
  • lianhabanana!

    Thanks so much for posting this! It's an important reminder for all of us. I don't plagiarize on purpose but if anyone notices that one of my pieces are similar to anyone else's please, please, please let me know. :)


    5 months ago
  • Halopoet

    Whoooo thanks for posting this amazing and helpful piece. Its so good to see many people working to help others. This is how a community should work


    5 months ago
  • outoftheblue

    This is super informative, so thanks a ton for posting this!


    5 months ago
  • joella

    thank you for publishing this!! plagiarism can be somewhat of a gray area, so you're definitely helping people *claps*


    5 months ago
  • A Rose

    Im your fellow English major wanna be friends so I'm allowed to snicker at Parry Hotter rather then joining the discourse, right?


    5 months ago
  • elliem

    Thank you for this. I think that it is important for young writers to learn the importance and gravity of plagiarism and the effects it can have. You seem very mature. I have never purposely plagiarized anything before; however, if anyone notices I have, please let me know because I promise it won't have been on purpose!! Thanks again for this piece and I hope you are having a nice day! :)


    5 months ago
  • V-Rose

    Thanks for posting this. I try not to plagiarize anything and most of what I write is random fiction coming from my dusty brain, but please, if you see me doing anything wrong in my writing, let me know. Again, thanks for posting this.


    5 months ago
  • the_enclave

    *claps*


    5 months ago
  • Anne Blackwood

    Bravo!! Thank you for this; it was so necessary.


    5 months ago
  • mia_:)

    Thanks so much, poetri! <3<3 Love this! Also, if I ever do any of these things unintentionally, PLEASE call me out on it! I honestly am kind of absent minded and have plagiarized on accident (which I fixed, of course)


    5 months ago
  • Writers of the World

    You're truly appreciated!


    5 months ago
  • Dmoral

    This reminds me of my Tips & Hints piece, and I love that. This link is definitely going in my message box. Amazing work--and way to cite your sources! So much has happened here on WTW, it's like I can't even recognize it.

    P.S
    Thanks for the message on prose ;)


    5 months ago
  • Ahsan Nizaam

    Thank you. It gives us "The new ones" something to actually consider. Especially the 'fun things.' Stating the truth is called as offending now! Where is the world getting to?


    5 months ago
  • Vinter Vejen

    Thank you! This must’ve taken so long, and you’ve really made a point here <33


    5 months ago
  • sunny.v

    this should be a foundational document for wtw!! thank you!!! also, that meal plan analogy was just great


    5 months ago
  • chrysanthemums&ink

    thank you for posting this!


    5 months ago