Category Archives: Citing Sources

What Should You Do When Your Content is Copied?

Life in the Security Experiment Room

My twelve year-old loves smoke alarms.  Some guys are crazy about football.  He knows the stats of almost every smoke detector- whether it’s a BG-12, Simplex, Wheelock, or Gentex.

After he started writing letters to companies, conversing with CMOs, creating reviews, editing videos, and playing around with You Tube, it became clear that his interest would be a gateway to acquiring valuable skills and practical lessons.

He Copied Me!

But then it happened.  A couple kids plagiarized his ideas and material.  One YouTube youngster “borrowed” most of his intro.  Grant invests hours editing these videos, so he was pretty ticked after he discovered the infringement.

“Mom, what should I do?”

I understood how he felt.  This happens to writers all the time.  It’s frustrating- especially when you’re the one who spent time or dollars on the original idea or work.

Plagiarism vs. Fair Use

Just to be clear, if you borrow an idea, quote, picture, or video you should credit your sources. If you want to be official with formatting that credit, read how to cite sources from MLA or APA. However, don’t cry “copyright infringement” if your idea was one that anyone could pick off just by living.  All people are allowed fair use of ideas for educating, discussing, and conjecture. If the idea is already swimming in public, it can be taken and altered.

What If Someone Steals Your Content or Ideas?

#1. Inform the accused what was done.  Define plagiarism for him or her because some people- especially kids, just don’t know.  Plagiarism.com says, “

ALL OF THE FOLLOWING ARE CONSIDERED PLAGIARISM:

  • turning in someone else’s work as your own
  • copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
  • failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
  • giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
  • changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
  • copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not (see our section on “fair use” rules)”

#2.  Add a © (copyright symbol) with the current year and the owner’s name to the bottoms of your websites, pictures, articles, or videos.  This symbol notifies would-be borrowers that you own the material. Most will ask for permission or provide credit to your page with links.

#3. Ask for credit if you feel that your idea or content was borrowed and be prepared to back up your claim.  But then, simmer down.  If you’re the original and most people know you’re the original, this is your moment to shine.

Look at the MKC commercials from 2014.  Lincoln’s sales soared up by 25%.  Ellen’s and SNL’s spoofs helped to catapult the original. Going viral is good for business.

“Borrowing” is flattery.  Properly documented spoofs or borrows can turn into more views for your channel.  Create brand ambassadors that will grow your channel. When someone copies your content, look at the action as flattery and opportunity. Embrace the marketing boost!

#4. If a serious offender ignores your request to receive a link and hat tip to your page, hire an attorney.  Sometimes, “borrowing” is not so innocent.  If it’s costly and the stakes are high, let your attorney do the talking.

In general, most people want to get copyright right. If you keep a positive attitude and work through the situation, you’ll probably end up with decent backlinks and some new partnerships.  Sharing and take-offs can help your SEO to soar.

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Filed under Capturing Audience, Citing Sources, Editors, Favorite Websites, Research Tips, Revising & Proofreading, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Website Linking, YouTube

6 Tips for Proper Linking in Blog Posts

My Web Writers

Linking to other blogs builds relationships and gets you noticed in the content marketing world. When content generators see they are receiving links from you, they are more apt to visit your site, and possibly link back to it.  But, be advised that linking for linking’s sake is not recommended. Search engines have made it clear that content needs to offer readers value and not a plethora of junky links.link

Consider these six tips to building community by connecting to others when the connections fit your content:

1)     Link to those in your network: Regardless of your industry, you’ll likely have peers worthy of referrals.  Providing a positive endorsement or a link to a colleague or vendor builds community and ultimately drives traffic to your site.

2)      Link to fans: If you have an active readership, linking to their blog or other social media account is an effective way to foster engagement. Plus, it never hurts to thank readers for their loyalty.

3)     Link to supplemental/complementary information: In general, anything relevant to your blog topic is worthy of link consideration. Driving readers to other links can provide context and supplemental information on the topic to your readers. In time, readers will come to view you as an expert in your respective field.  As a word of advice, limit these types of links to five per post.  It’s possible to overwhelm readers with too much content.

4)      Provide link explanations. A good way to encourage visitors to click on external links is to provide a brief description about the content. Readers will be more apt to click than if the link lacks an explanation. No one wants to click on a link to find it’s really a virus or not what they expected. You could lose credibility or trust. And that translates into less traffic, and perhaps a shrinking bottom line.

5)     Make friends. If you’ve found a compelling blog post, why not contact the blog owner and inquire about exchanging links, or even guest posts? If your site is a source for relevant, high-quality information many will be willing to reciprocate to reap the rewards. Another scenario: Link to the other blog, then email the blogger to introduce yourself, mention the link, and ask them to consider linking to you.

6)      Another pro tip: Set your links to open in a new window. This keeps visitors on your site longer, and helps maintain fluidity in reading. For example, if you’re linking to a story about analytics, they might be interested, but want to keep reading your post. Opening the story in a new window allows them to browse to that tab or window–on their own time.

In short, linking is one of the many activities you can do to help better your SEO. The links should literally stand out and entice readers to click them. Make sure the links are relevant to the rest of your content and not too cluttered on the page.  Finally, familiarize yourself with the Penguin update, if you haven’t already, to ensure that you avoid exact match anchor text. When you properly link in your blog, you offer the reader other avenues to explore your topic more deeply.

~Lauren

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Filed under Blog Writing Tips, Citing Sources, Content, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Website Linking

Follow this Basic Style Guide for Writing in APA

by My Web Writers

Image Courtesy of the American Psychological Association- APAstyle.org

APA style is used broadly among academics, students, and researchers working in the social sciences and allows for the proper citation of the findings of others in a recognizable format. APA style breaks papers into manageable sections that help writers to effectively organize their thoughts and allow readers to more easily navigate material. Here are the basics to get you started.

APA papers should…

–          Be typed with 12-point font.

–          Use 8.5 x 11 inch paper with one-inch margins.

–          Contain a running header. The header should include the title of the paper flushed left and the paper number flushed right. The title page should be numbered page 1.

–          Contain four sections: Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.

Title Page

–          The title page should contain the running head. Note that the title should be in all capital letters.

–          The following—title, authors first, last name, and middle initial if applicable, and institution affiliation—should be centered at the upper half of the paper and should appear on separate lines.

–          The title page should be double spaced.

Running Head: TITLE OF YOUR PAPER                                             1

Title

Betty Ann Sue

University of the North Pole

Abstract

–          An abstract should be between 150 – 200 words.

–          It should include a summary of the paper’s main research points.

–          Do not indent the abstract.

–          List key words at the bottom of the text by indenting, writing keywords in italics and then listing them.

 Main Body

–          The paper should begin with the title centered below the header.

–          Use headings for each section of the paper.

–          Double space.

In-Text Citations

In-text citations include the author’s last name, year of publication and page number. The year of publication is specifically important to the social science field because it helps readers to quickly identify whether or not research is current. Here are a few samples.

According to Patterson (2001), “The subjects exhibited nervous behavior in unfamiliar environments” (p. 56).

Patterson (2001) found that “the subjects exhibited nervous behavior in unfamiliar environments” (p. 56); this is different from his earlier studies.

He stated, “The subjects exhibited nervous behavior in unfamiliar environments” (Patterson, 2001, p. 56); this is different from his earlier studies.

Reference List

–          The reference list appears on a separate sheet at the end of the paper.

–          The title should be centered and plain text.

–          Citations should be double-spaced with no extra spaces between citations.

–          Entries should be alphabetized by the last name of the first author listed for each resource.

–          Make sure you have an entry for each resource cited in your text.

–          For entries that are more than one line, all the subsequent lines should be indented one-half inch.

–          EasyBib is a free site that generates reference pages in a variety of writing styles. Using this resource may save time when compiling a reference list.

Check out the basic web and book formats below.

The format for citing a web resource is:

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of article. Title of Online Periodical, volume number (issue number if available). Retrieved from http://www.includeaddresswithfullurl

The format for citing a book is:

Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle. Location: Publisher.

~Lindsey

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Filed under Citing Sources, Expository Writing, Persuasive Essay, Research Tips, Revising & Proofreading, Technical Writing, The Writing Process, White Papers

The Basics of Writing in MLA Style

by My Web Writers

Image Courtesy of the Modern Language Association- MLA.org

Formatting is an important component of any researched-based writing from high school essays to college term papers to published, academic work. For those who aren’t familiar with them, formatting styles can cause quite a headache, especially when left to the last minute. The best way to avoid the rush is to format before you begin writing and to follow the guidelines as you write.

In the humanities, MLA is the standard writing style for scholarly work. Students and professionals working in literature, cultural studies, media, and many commercial publications will need to understand and apply this style. Check out these tips to help you along the way.

MLA papers should…

–          be typed with 12-point font

–          use 8.5 x 11 inch paper with one-inch margins.

–          be double-spaced, with no spaces between paragraphs.

–          contain paragraphs with the first line indented one-half inch.

–          Page numbers should appear in the upper right hand corner. The author’s last name should appear before the page number.

First Page Formatting

–          List your name, the instructor’s name, the class and the date on separate lines. Like the body of the paper, the heading should be double spaced.

–          Include a centered title.

–          There should be one space between the title and the first line of text.

Betty Sue                                                                                            Sue 1

Mr. Howard

English 101

3 April 2012

Title

The first line of text should appear here. It should be followed by a second line of text. Notice that the first paragraph is indented.

In-text Citations

Generally, MLA uses author-page in-text citations. Citations allow the writer to give credit for ideas, paraphrases, and direct quotes that are not his or her own. Citations also allow readers to identify the sources for specific information in the paper and to correlate to the works cited page. In-text citations occur either directly after the quote or paraphrase or at the end of the sentence in which the quote or paraphrase is contained.  Notice that the end punctuation always appears after the last parenthesis. See the examples below.

“I sure hate flying airplanes” (Rider 16).

The girl says, “I sure hate flying airplanes,” even though she doesn’t mean it (Rider 16).

According to Rider, the girl “sure hates[s] flying airplanes” (16).

Works Cited Page

–           The works cited page appears on a separate sheet at the end of the paper.

–          The title should be centered and plain text.

–          Citations should be double-spaced with no extra spaces between citations.

–          All entries should identify the medium of publication (i.e. Print, CD, and Web).

–          EasyBib is a free site that generates reference pages in a variety of writing styles. Using this resource may save time when compiling a work cited page.

Basic book and web citations are shown below.

The format for citing a book is:

Author Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Publisher, Year Published. Publication type.

The format for citing a web resource is:

Name of Author or Editor. Website Name. Version Number. Publisher or sponsor of site, date resource was created. Medium. Date material accessed. <URL> (If providing the URL is required.)

Additional Information

Most colleges and universities now have online writing labs with style guides that explain formatting in-depth. A few useful sites are listed below. MLA also prints style guides. Be sure to check out their website for any annual updates.

Modern Languages Association 

Purdue University Online Writing Lab 

Texas A&M University Writing Lab 

Utah Valley University Online Writing Lab 

~Lindsey

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Filed under Citing Sources, Queries & Articles, Research Tips, Revising & Proofreading, Technical Writing, The Writing Process