How to Find Out If Someone Is Plagiarizing Your Work
by Robert Nahas
With the infiltration of Internet venues that harbor and propagate pseudo professional and fraudulent “writers” – even encouraging it by “looking the other way” – there has been a significant rise in plagiarism of the protected works of professional writers. Though hard numbers have not yet been established, this writer, after a great deal of research, estimates that it has risen by as much as 42 percent over the past five years.
This not only affects professional writers but also the people who hire these plagiarizers to write books, articles, etc. for them. So how can one protect him/herself from these covert intellectual-rights bandits of the 21st century? I’m glad you asked. Here are a few ways:
1.) Knowing what plagiarism is is the first step in protecting yourself. So let’s define plagiarism. In very simple terms, plagiarism is when someone uses another’s works without permission. When something is originated in writing, the government acknowledges this ownership, especially when the c inside the circle symbol plus the date and owner’s name are included with the piece. This says that only you have the write to publish, print, copy or change the piece. And anyone else must be granted specific permission from you to do any of these things with your work.
Now there are certain nuances that you should also know about. Things such as the fact that someone can include a certain (small) amount of your work in theirs IF they site the author and where it was quoted from. And in most cases, this is a good thing, as it helps promote your works, if the quotes are used in a good light. There are limits to just how much someone can quote. Also, just because someone rearranges the order of words or sentences does not excuse them from copyright laws. You can learn more about these things and more at the Research Design and Methods website Online Learning Center at the following link:
You will learn a great deal about plagiarism there.
2.) If you are someone who hires writers, especially for books or articles, avoid the low-cost writers and stick with the professionals. When it comes to services, to consider hiring a low-priced book writer is only asking for failure and even serious trouble. Unlike shopping for hard goods, like clothes, basketballs and sod for your backyard, you cannot seek out professional services in the same manner – whether you are looking for writing services, a good lawyer to represent you or someone to put new brakes on your car.
You might be able to find a deal on the brakes themselves, though doing so might have grave ramifications, still is it worth chancing things on shoddy or inferior craftsmanship? What about saving a few bucks on a very-low-priced lawyer, and as a result you still end up having to pay a big fine or even worse get sent to jail for something you didn’t do? Would that be a good deal? What if you were to take your lifelong dream of having a book published, but instead you end up with something that even your loving mother or grandmother couldn’t find anything nice to say about it? The answer is, it is simply NEVER the thing to do when it comes to services.
HERE IS MY POINT: The greatest instance of plagiarism comes from pseudo professional writers. And of the 42 percent estimated increase mentioned above, 40 percent comes from these very writers. I do not, in fact, even like calling them writers, as they do not in any way fit the bill. In fact, they taint an otherwise honest, hard-working and professional field. So if you sense some of my irate feelings, such feelings are justly stewing.
Case in point, I received a 350-page book from a client needing professional book editing services. He mentioned that he had paid $4,000 to a book writer to write it. After I stopped choking, I politely told him that there was no doubt in my mind that there was something wrong with his book.
I began to edit this “book” and shortly into it, I could tell there were two different voices. This suggested that there had been two different writers, which raised two red flags that things were not hopeful for my client.
To make a long article short, I investigated and found 45 percent of this book had been plagiarized word-for-word! My client was a businessman with a good reputation. And if I had not caught this, his business and reputation could have been seriously damaged. Not to mention what could have happened to his life over the legal ramifications.
But it took a professional to find this. And it takes professionals to write, edit, proofread, format, market and print books and articles of any quality. Staying clear of the low-priced writer is essential for all but guaranteeing that you will not run into plagiarism issues. What is low-priced? Well, pay attention to what someone offers you. This plagiarized book for my client, who by the way is still working with me to this very day on his ongoing books, took about 8 months to write at $4,000. If you do the math, you can see that this “writer” made about $115 per week. How can a professional, full-time writer ever live on that? That’s below poverty level. So using this system can be very helpful. If someone is offering you poverty rates to write your book or article, what does that tell you? For one thing, they are not a very good writer if they have to stoop so financially low to get work.
Also, know that a 350-page book should take at least 12 months to write if it is to be accurate, professional and of high quality. So if someone offers you such a book in 6 months, run in the other direction. Steeling others’ works is the only way to accomplish this. Also, professional book writers make between $100 and $250 per page. That is a very good rule of thumb.
3.) If you are a writer or someone who hires one and you have some works that you would like to see if anyone is using portions without permission, there is something you can do on-line. Go to plagiarismchecker.com and type in more than 6 and less than 32 words – verbatim – from a passage of your book or article and click the “Search” button. If anything is on the Internet, links will show up in the resulting webpage of the websites that contain your intellectual property. Continue to do this with different sections of your book or article. The more you include (up to 32 words) the better, as this does a more accurate job at detecting only sites that contain your specific work. There are other similar checkers on line, such as http://www.neilstoolbox.com/plagiarism-tester/ . This one lets you type up to 50 words at a time.
Though it is an extremely effective way to catch on-line bandits, it is not foolproof, as it of course does not cover offline (brick & mortar) works.
I’m going to continue to research ways to protect ourselves from fraudulent representation of written works. If you know of other ways to detect plagiarism, please feel free to share them with me and I will add them to this article and share this information – with your permission, of course – with the rest of the world, and we’ll all be a little better off for it.