As a current or aspiring content creator, website buyer, or agency, the answer as to what percentage of plagiarism is allowed is always zero.
At the same time, some sources will tell you that anywhere from 10-15% is “acceptable”. This often comes from various schools and universities that have more or less set that standard, while others are adamant that the percentage is zero. It differs from institution to institution, and there is no one right answer.
However, if you have to ask, it’s likely because there’s a gap in what you know, and you’re looking to reinforce your statement with credible quotes or statistics from experts. Contrary to what you might think, doing this doesn’t weaken your own statements or make you any less worth listening to. Some people mistakenly think, “If I pull material from this expert or that author, it will make my own work stronger and make me look like a thought leader too.”
Unfortunately, those are exactly the grounds for plagiarism and with so much advancement in the field of AI and plagiarism detectors, it’s not a matter of if you’ll be caught, but when.
Fortunately, you can lend credence to your content, improve your rank in the search engines, add authority to your own statements, and further present yourself as a thought leader in the space by properly citing the person (or people) whose ideas, findings, or statistics you’re quoting.
There are two main ways to do this, and neither of them is considered plagiarism:
Cite the Original Author When Quoting Them Directly
Obviously, this is the simplest and fastest way to avoid plagiarism. With online content like blogs or articles, this is often done with a simple link back and acknowledgment of the author’s contribution. For example:
In trying to understand how many words in a row are considered plagiarism, Originality.AI creator Jonathan Gillham notes…” and the quote continues here”.
This tells the reader that not only are you citing an expert in that particular field, but you’re expanding on their answer with your own thoughts, findings, or other relevant details. Essentially you’re using their findings as a springboard or a launchpad.
Paraphrase in Your Own Words but Cite the Original
Some people mistakenly believe that if you take the original author’s findings or ideas, but put them in your own words, it’s not considered plagiarism. And although this is a much blurrier line than simply copying their text outright, it’s still considered plagiarism if you fail to cite the original creator. For example:
In helping content and marketing agencies stem the tide of the onslaught of AI-created work submitted as original, Originality.AI creator Jonathan Gillham illustrates several examples of famous people who got caught pilfering and profiting from the work of others.
As you can see, we’ve linked to a previous work without using any of the content directly.
How Can I Make My Own Writing Stand Out?
This is a conundrum that writers and content marketers often face, as they read someone else’s work and think to themselves, “There’s no way I can possibly illustrate that point better than they did.” That may be true, but don’t discount your own experiences!
Remember that we all see life through the lens of our own experiences and life story, and no two people are exactly alike. At the same time, ask yourself how you want your writing to be perceived by others. In my case, I want people to come away from reading what I write feeling like they learned something new and valuable. I enjoy being able to distill complex topics into actionable steps that have real-world applications. I’d hope that this “flavor” comes out in my writing.
Everyone has their own unique style and technique, and just like with any exercise, the more you do it, the better you get at it. Content creation and writing are no different.
Does Using AI Count as Plagiarism?
If you have to rely entirely on an AI program to do your writing for you, then it is considered plagiarism, no matter how “original” the content claims to be. Remember that AI writing tools are just that – tools. They’re not meant to replace seasoned writers and content experts but rather help those same people break out of writer’s block and see things from a different perspective or through a different lens.
At this point, no matter how “authentic” the kind of content they create seems, it’s also quite dry and uninspiring. The machine’s output is only as good as its input, and it draws from across the web and many different styles of writing. The end result might sound good, and it might look human, but it might also be factually incorrect and a structural mish-mash of ideas pulled from different places.
Is that really how you want your agency or your content to be seen?
Resist the urge to use AI as a crutch to churn out gobs of content in record time and instead use it to help you formulate strategy, outline your explanations or give greater clarity to your ideas before you set about writing. Then let your own experience and expertise come to the forefront, in a style that only you can create.
Always Check for Originality
Take steps now to make sure your content is original and natural, and that it ranks on its own merits. Cite your sources and throw them a backlink. It takes just seconds to do and demonstrates that you value their thoughts and appreciate the work they’ve done. Who knows, they may even return the favor.
These days, the best way to curb the glut of low-effort content churned out by AI is to turn it back into the tool it was meant to be; not as a replacement for experts or content creators. Make sure every piece of content on your site is well-researched, properly cited, and designed to be visually digestible. Only then will you discover that it’s truly brimming with Originality.