• Antoinette Minor

Avoiding Plagiarism in the Workplace

Just when I thought this episode of punked that the Presidential Election is playing on us was over, last night at the RNC, Melania Trump stole pieces of Michelle Obama's 2008 DNC Speech.  The speech wasn't just similar to Michelle's, it had actual word-for-word pieces of the speech.  Ya'll, the woman we could possibly be calling our First Lady of the United States publicly plagiarized.  What is this world coming to?  

Plagiarism isn't something to be taken lightly especially in the workplace but happens all of the time.  Advertisements have been duplicated, product models are often stolen and creative ideas can be taken as their own.  This is why we have protection in the form of copyrights, patents, etc.  In order to keep yourself safe from the shame of plagiarizing in your professional career, here are some tips to follow.

1. Seek Permission and Approval

If you would like to use a coworker's idea, work or plan you MUST seek permission from them.  Ask your coworker if it would be okay to include their 2016 reports into your PowerPoint.  Even something as small as an idea that never came to fruition is plagiarism so ask for permission to carry out the plan or to revamp idea.  Once your project is complete it would even be wise to seek approval of the completed project from the originator as well.  The last thing you want is for that coworker to say you twisted their words or thoughts which could lead to rough waters for the both of you.  Ask to use and then have them approve!

2. Give Credit

This is pretty old school and a technique that is learned throughout grade school.  Give credit where credit is due.  Not only is it the right thing to do but its a respectable thing to do.  You're coworker will appreciate the shout out and it will also show that you are a team player.  What if Melania Trump had said, "in the words of Michelle Obama," or, "Michelle Obama said," the possible future First Lady may have avoided public humiliation for herself and her husband.  Public Speaking 101 recommends the use of quotes especially when the quoted person is of high regards.

3. Proper Brain Storming

It's very easy to plagiarize without even knowing.  Musicians fall to it all the time when creating a song.  For example, Beyonce's, "Hold Up," on her new album Lemonade has 15 credits.  The song credits for lyrics directly pulled from Soulja Boy's hit song, "Turn My Swag On," and other credits for songs or lyrics that might even sound similar to avoid plagiarism. Your brain has a way of doing that to you.  Giving yourself enough time to complete a project before the deadline and using proper brainstorming techniques will decrease the chances of purposefully and unintentionally plagiarizing.

Don't be Melania Trump.  Keep these tips in mind throughout your professional career.  Plagiarism is a serious offense and can do more damage than you think.  Lawsuits and a decrease in credibility can seriously hurt your professional brand.  It's a stain that will be hard to remove so think twice before plagiarizing!

See you at the top,

The Young Professionalist  


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