Categories: Plagiarism

by Sherice Jacob


A artificial intelligence robots observing the importance of proper attribution in avoiding plagiarism

As a professional writer, blogger, content creator, or website owner, you want to avoid plagiarism wherever possible. But given that there are so many different ways to plagiarize, including plagiarizing yourself, how can you possibly keep track of them all? Attribution is the answer.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how attribution works for content professionals and why it’s so important both online and off. Whether you’re a solo content creator or you work as part of a team, it’s important that you and everyone involved in creating content for your given project fully understand how to reference others’ ideas, quotes, and material so that you sidestep any potential for plagiarism as you continue to publish and share information.

Ensuring Proper Attribution

When I say “proper attribution”, you probably had a momentary flashback to your university days where specific standards guided how you cited different experts. Depending on your field of study, a different organization was responsible for ensuring that the details you cited were handled properly, but once you leave those hallowed halls of knowledge, the ability to properly give credit to authors or designers suddenly becomes more confusing. How do you properly attribute a creation, concept, or idea to someone else?

Citation vs. Attribution

On that note, what’s the difference between citation and attribution anyway? Citation is referencing the original author, such as in the footnotes of a document or otherwise linking back or sharing your source. It’s something that’s more commonly done with scholarly research, essays, and other types of academic papers. 

Attribution, on the other hand, is not quite as involved yet still links back to the original author, designer, or creator of a given idea or creation. Attribution is all about giving someone credit for their work and is important for content creators, writers, and website owners as a whole. Not only does it acknowledge the other person’s contribution, but it also gives people a direct link where they can learn more or see other works by the same author or artist. 

Attribution Done Right

When attributing content to its creator, you don’t have to go through a long, lengthy footnote. You can simply mention the author with a link back to their website, such as “Sherice Jacob, plagiarism specialist at Originality.AI, helps content creators and website owners ensure their content is authentic and credible through the use of sophisticated machine learning methods that detect AI-written posts and articles.’ 

Giving the author a link back not only helps their backlink profile within the search engines, but it’s also the right thing to do from a standpoint of taking steps to avoid plagiarism. If you want to quote their words exactly, it’s a good idea to do so sparingly, since a lot of quotes scattered throughout your content can make it cumbersome to read and hard to follow. 

What About Fair Use?

When using other peoples’ content for your own work, such as giving your own opinion or instructing your team using someone else’s statistics or statements, it may fall under fair use which, according to, “[may include]  certain types of uses—such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research”.  If you’re unsure as to whether or not using something could fall under Fair Use, reach out to the author or copyright owner and ask for their permission. 

This also applies to images and photos, even those given away for free on other websites. There may be a small fee involved or a request for a link back. Much of this boils down to the desire of the individual creator as different artists and authors may request different attribution in exchange for using their creations. 

What About Creative Commons or the Public Domain?

Information that’s freely available from open access spaces like Creative Commons may have its own specific licensing requests like “CC-BY-SA” which lets users “distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, so long as attribution is given to the creator. The license allows for commercial use. If you remix, adapt, or build upon the material, you must license the modified material under identical terms.” 

For works that are in the public domain, you’re free to do with them as you wish, however, it’s still a good idea to cite the original source as the foundation for your own work. 

Be Careful Not to Plagiarize Yourself! 

In making sure you have proper attribution in place, you may also inadvertently forget that it’s possible to plagiarize yourself! This happens when you intentionally use your own previous work (content, images, and so on). When you create a work for hire, this means that you also usually assign the copyright to the publisher or owner. But then, if you turn around and use large chunks of that work in another work for hire, you’ve committed self-plagiarism.

Getting the Most Out of Your Content

As you can see, proper attribution in avoiding plagiarism is as simple as referencing the original creator and giving them a link back according to their request. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it also helps add greater credibility, authenticity, and professionalism to your own work, further cultivating your own status as a thought leader in your respective niche or industry. 

For this reason, it’s more important than ever to ensure that the content you receive is free from the tell-tale signs of having been AI-crafted. Originality.AI makes it easy and fast to check your content directly online using the sophistication of machine learning coupled with a deep understanding of content creation by humans versus machines. 

As the artificial intelligence draws upon more and more sources and refines its “human-ness”, you can count on Originality.AI to take steps to keep human-generated content at the top of the list, not just for its improved readability, but also for its factual background, expert insights, and experienced stories – things that no artificial intelligence can provide.

About the Author: 

Sherice Jacob

Plagiarism Expert

Sherice Jacob brings over 20 years of experience to digital marketing as a copywriter and content creator. With a finger on the pulse of AI and its developments, she works extensively with Originality.AI to help businesses and publishers get the best returns from their Content.

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