Many small businesses outsource content writing to freelancers. They are usually much cheaper than a content marketing agency. However, hiring people you don’t know and whose work process you cannot control poses several risks. The most serious refer to poor quality and plagiarism. Today, we will explain to you all the types of plagiarism, some of which you may unwittingly commit when you create your own content pieces.
Why Are There Several Types of Plagiarism?
Plagiarism is what it is – a bad thing. Why should you go in detail and find out what type of plagiarism it is? Here is the answer: while some types of plagiarism are intentional and done knowing exactly what it is, and that it is an unfair practice, others are unintentional.
They are the result of error and of habit – and although they are not acceptable, the person committing them did not knowingly want to trick you and take advantage of you. After evaluating the content piece and having a discussion with the freelancer, you may decide to give them a second chance, especially if you have a good working relationship with them.
Last but not least, you yourself may find that you’ve committed one of these types of plagiarism when you are writing your own blog posts and marketing materials.
Discover the Types of Plagiarism
Let us delve into the main topic of the article: ways in which a content piece may plagiarise other writers’ work.
1. Complete Plagiarism
This is one of the most dishonest types of plagiarism. It means that someone takes another person’s content piece in its entirety, without changing anything, and presents it as their own work.
Thanks to plagiarism checking tools like Copyscape, complete plagiarism becomes increasingly rare. However, this does not mean that you must not stay vigilant. If a freelancer passes someone else’s content as their own and you publish it on your website, you may be liable to pay damages to the original content creator.
2. Mosaic Plagiarism
Also known as patchwork plagiarism, this is one of the types of plagiarism that is quite difficult to detect at first glance. In this case, the plagiarist will take paragraphs from another piece of content and randomly replace words with synonyms or add extra words of their own.
Also, the plagiarist may use several sources to retrieve paragraphs, making the plagiarism even more difficult to detect. However, advanced software tools will tell you that the text is less than 100% unique and this should be a warning sign for you.
3. Accidental Plagiarism
As its name states, this type of plagiarism is not intentional. It happens when the author of the article wants to quote a person or another source, but does not cite the original source accurately.
Without the proper quotation marks and link to the original source, to a reader it appears the writer’s own idea. For this reason, proofreading any piece of content before publishing it is essential. You may catch accidental plagiarism and fix it with a few clicks.
However, please note that there is a limit to which you can quote another author’s work in your content piece. An inspirational quote or statistical data are acceptable. An entire section of their article is not.
This is probably one of the most widespread types of plagiarism that do not come from a dishonest intent. Many content writers unwittingly use the same turns of phrase, because they feel they express a specific idea in the best possible way.
Self-plagiarism becomes intentional when a freelancer looks for a content piece on the same topic, written for a different client, and makes insignificant changes to it before presenting it to you as an original work.
5. Source-Based Plagiarism
It is difficult to say whether this is one of the types of plagiarism that occurs intentionally or not. For example, an author quotes a web source, but when you want to check it, you see that it is no longer available or is behind a pay wall.
It does not mean that the source was not live online and available for free at the time when the writer created the article. However, it is now impossible to make the reference and use the backlink as proof that your text does not plagiarise another person’s work.
How to Avoid the Most Common Types of Self-Plagiarism in Your Content
Accidental plagiarism and self-plagiarism are the most likely types of plagiarism you may commit when you create your own content. This may get you in trouble with the original author of the misquoted text and/or with Google. The search engine does not like duplicate content.
So, how do you avoid these issues? Here are a few ideas:
1. Get Rid of Boilerplate Content
Boilerplate content occurs mainly in:
- Product descriptions
- Meta descriptions.
When you have similar products or web pages, it is tempting to use the same content to save time. However, this is essentially self-plagiarism. You are placing the same content piece on two different digital properties – because each page on your website is considered a unique source of information.
2. Conduct New Research for Each Topic
Do you plan on writing an article about a topic and you suddenly remember that you did a similar piece a year ago? Do not go back to the original research for that article. You may commit self-plagiarism by creating the same article structure and using the same quotes.
Apart from avoiding one of the types of plagiarism, conducting a new research will lead you to discover new developments concerning the issue. Or, you may find out that some of the initial ideas have been invalidated and you no longer have any reason to write on that topic.
3. Create a Plan for Your Content Piece before You Start Writing
Here’s a smart way to avoid several types of plagiarism, including source-based and self-plagiarism. Make a layout of your content piece before you start writing. Jot down the main ideas and the order in which you want to treat them.
This will lead you to conduct specific research and to use a unique approach of your article, which completely differs from what other authors wrote on the same topics.
Each of the types of plagiarism we talked about will damage your SEO strategy and your page rank. Also, you may be sued by the original content creators and lose both money and business reputation.
If you hire freelance copywriters to create your content, it is worthwhile investing in a tool like Copyscape to check each piece for plagiarism. And, when you write your own content, resist the temptation to look over other similar articles you’ve written as source of inspiration.