When I began editing, the last thing in the world I expected to encounter was plagiarism. I prefer to think the best of people until they give me reason not to, and maybe I’m stupid for holding on to my naïveté, but never mind that. I still believe it’s a much better way to exist than the alternative.
Before I go on, everyone who puts pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard or touchscreen, needs to understand that there are a plethora of online plagiarism checkers. These are just a few of them—Grammarly.com, Plagiarisma.net, and PaperRater.com. And in reality, plagiarism checkers aren’t even really necessary anymore as any search engine can be used to identify pilfered content. Given these widely available tools, who in her right mind is going to risk plagiarizing today?
Sadly, it would seem that too many are still willing to take the risk. You can find an Unplag.com article about some 2015 scandals here and there’s a recent example from Korea here. Or better yet, just search “plagiarism scandals” yourself and see what pops up. You’ll probably be surprised (at least I hope you are because, like me, you would never dream of plagiarizing).
As I mentioned, I didn’t expect plagiarized material to darken my editor’s screen, but it has—twice. And if that alone wasn’t alarming enough, it came from two people who beyond a shadow of a doubt knew better. I was working via other services when these abominations intruded into my life, hence, the acceptable responses from me were extremely circumscribed. I wasn’t able to call the authors out as such. The best I could do was steer them in a more honest direction. However, I can tell you that one was publishing a book in advance of a PhD thesis (yes, a PhD thesis!), and the other was a … sit down now … a lawyer! Not only that, after my work for the lawyer was done—citing and/or eradicating the plagiarism—I was presented with something referred to as an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) that was in fact a non-disclosure-non-compete-I-own-all-your-previous-and-future-work-forevermore-with-no-financial-compensation-to-you-contract that I categorically refused to sign. I think I’m still reeling from that one.
So what am I saying? I’m saying that I, as the OCD Editor, will not deal with plagiarized material. I’m saying plagiarizing is not only bad, it’s unconscionable and a discredit to everyone’s work and art. I’m saying anyone who respects herself will not plagiarize. I’m saying anyone who respects the work of others will not plagiarize. I’m saying plagiarizing is nasty, dirty, and easy—until you’re found out and humiliated. I’m saying anyone who’s arrogant enough to plagiarize material in the Information Age deserves whatever is coming down the pike to wipe out her credibility.
Plagiarism is the lazy way to produce work and it simply is not worth it. Your work, your art, your dreams made manifest on the page—or wherever—deserve so, so, so much more than engagement in this nefarious practice. You owe it to yourself to produce as much original material and original work as you possibly can, and when you borrow an idea or a phrase or whatever, the right thing to do is credit the creator. You would expect the same from others, wouldn’t you?
Please, please, please respect yourself and others enough not to be tempted by the P word. After all, isn’t it better to revel in the glory of your own hard work than to live in fear of being discovered as a plagiarizing fraud?
I leave you with a quote from Nikos Kazantzakis that always works to remind me why doing things the proper, i.e., the “hard,” way, is worth it:
Which of the two eternal roads shall I choose? … I choose the ascending path. Why? For no intelligible reason, without any certainty; I know how ineffectual the mind and all the small certainties of man can be … I choose the ascending path because my heart drives me toward it. “Upward! Upward! Upward!” my heart shouts, and I follow it trustingly.