As a freelancer, it’s important to produce original and high-quality work to build a successful career. However, in this digital age, it’s becoming increasingly easy to copy and paste content from the internet, leading to the rise of plagiarism. Plagiarism not only violates ethical principles but can also have serious consequences for freelancers, including:
- Loss of reputation
- Legal action
- Damage to career prospects
I don’t know any freelance who would commit plagiarism knowingly…but, unintentional plagiarism, it’s a whole new story. And now, with ChatGPT, plagiarism issues are beyond a whole new story—we’re at an out-of-this-world level.
ChatGPT is designed to provide informative and helpful responses to various queries. However, it’s important to understand the ethical principles involved in using the information provided by ChatGPT, especially when it comes to plagiarism.
So, today in FWJ’s ChatGPT section, we explore the question of ChatGPT and plagiarism, define plagiarism, examine the risks it poses to freelancers, and discuss the solutions they can adopt to avoid it.
Ready to dive in?
What Is Plagiarism?
Let’s go back to the basics first and make sure we are on the same page.
Plagiarism is the act of presenting someone else’s work or ideas as your own without giving proper credit to the original source. This includes:
- Copying and pasting text
- Using ideas from someone else’s work without giving credit
- Paraphrasing someone else’s work without properly citing it
- Purchasing a pre-written essay or paper and submitting it as one’s own work
Plagiarism can occur in various forms, including essays, academic research papers, creative writing, and even speeches. Oh, and web content, copy, and pretty much everything we do in our line of work.
The Risks of Plagiarism
Do I really need to go through this? Maybe not, but just in case someone (even just one) needs to be reminded of the risks of plagiarism (not to mention just how unethical it is)…
👎🏾 Plagiarism is considered unethical because it involves taking credit for someone else’s work.
👎🏾 It violates the intellectual property rights of the original author and undermines the values of honesty, integrity, and academic excellence.
👎🏾 Plagiarism undermines the educational process and devalues the efforts of those who put in the time and effort to create original content.
It can also have serious consequences, such as legal action and loss of reputation, which can affect your freelance career. Additionally, plagiarism can have negative effects on society in general, such as limiting the development of new ideas and hindering progress. Therefore, it’s crucial for individuals to understand the importance of citing sources and creating original content to maintain the integrity of the work they produce.
It’s all about integrity, not…
ChatGPT and Plagiarism
So, let’s address the elephant in the room—ChatGPT. Many have raised (valid!) concerns about the technology and the risk of plagiarism. The thing is, we have to understand that ChatGPT is so advanced that it can generate new text (much like what we human writers do) from existing information. It’s not like bots of old which simply copy-pasted text.
Is ChatGPT plagiarism?
The million-dollar question, folks. And one that I would really love to hear what you think of.
Is ChatGPT plagiarism?
It depends on who you ask.
I asked ChatGPT, and it said:
No, ChatGPT is not plagiarism. ChatGPT is a language model that generates responses based on patterns and relationships it has learned from a large dataset of text. It does not have the ability to intentionally copy someone else’s work or ideas without attribution. However, it’s important to use the information provided by ChatGPT ethically, and to properly cite and attribute any sources that were used in the creation of one’s work. ChatGPT can be a useful tool for research, but it’s important to always use it responsibly and ethically.
See the part I bolded? I can say the same of myself…
Aaron Leong of DigitalTrends examines the use of ChatGPT in academia and clearly takes the stance that it is plagiarism. I have to agree in this context—when students use the platform to write their papers. It may not be outright copying someone else’s work, but using AI instead of writing your own ideas defeats the purpose of learning! Instead of being able to develop critical thinking and writing skills, students who use ChatGPT for their papers rely on someone else to do the thinking.
This brings me to what we’ve talked about before—using ChatGPT to improve your writing, research, and assistance, not to replace us, writers.
So, tell me, do you think ChatGPT is plagiarism?
Is ChatGPT plagiarism-free?
Here’s another question that is often asked…if you do use the platform to generate new content, how can you be sure it’s plagiarism-free? I asked ChatGPT.
ChatGPT itself is plagiarism-free, as it generates responses based on patterns and relationships learned from a large dataset of text, rather than copying from specific sources. However, it’s important to use the information provided by ChatGPT ethically and properly cite any sources that were used in the creation of one’s work. While ChatGPT can provide helpful suggestions and ideas, it’s ultimately up to the individual to ensure that their work is original and properly attributed. Therefore, it’s crucial for freelancers and anyone else using ChatGPT to understand the risks associated with plagiarism and the importance of creating original content.
Again, it circles back to the human writer—it’s up to us to ensure that we use the information ethically and cite any sources.
I did some good ol’ fashioned googling using this question as a search term, and the general consensus seems to be that ChatGPT is plagiarism-free.
Let’s do our own testing. I asked ChatGPT a specific question about court systems. Let’s use the results as the content of a paper or article.
Now, I ran the text through Chegg’s CitationMachine Plagiarism Checker (a paid service). I got a 12% score, which IS acceptable but not ideal. However, if you look at the identified matches, most of them are generic enough that I personally wouldn’t flag them as plagiarized.
I tried Grammarly’s free Plagiarism Checker, and I got an even better result: No plagiarism found. (Though it did find some issues with the writing 😅)
Results will vary depending on the plagiarism check tool that you use, but I think it’s safe to say that ChatGPT is plagiarism-free.
Do We Have to Rethink Plagiarism Because of AI?
This is proving to be a tough article to write. As a freelance writer (and because of personal values), I denounce plagiarism. I still remember one of the most shocking moments in my college life—when I discovered that my History professor had plagiarized her seminal paper published years before. She was a tough cookie and I admired her. But then the news came out, and I just couldn’t understand why. I’ll probably never understand, but I look at that incident as a cornerstone in my stance against plagiarism.
With AI now so advanced that it can write unique content, however, the question of whether we need to revisit the core concept of plagiarism has been raised. (See the Dataconomy article I cited above.)
My opinion: The core definition of plagiarism doesn’t have to—and should not be—changed. Plagiarism is plagiarism.
The issue here is how we integrate AI into our lives. No matter how we look at it, AI is here to stay. We might as well be informed and find the best ways to deal with it.
We can now generate and manipulate text, images, and other types of media with greater accuracy and speed than ever before.
Some AI programs can create articles or papers that appear to be written by humans (ChatGPT, I’m looking at you 👀). This means that students, writers, and researchers can use these programs to generate plagiarized content more easily. Educators, editors, etc. need to be aware of these tools and their limitations.
To combat the potential for AI-assisted plagiarism (this is quickly becoming a buzzword, which I predict will be interestingly controversial), it is essential to establish clear guidelines and ethical standards for using AI technology in academic research and writing in general. This may include educating students and researchers about the importance of original work (more like refreshing their memory), providing clear guidelines for using AI tools, and using plagiarism checkers designed to detect AI-generated content. At the end of the day, we need to adapt to these technological advancements and ensure that our ethical and legal frameworks keep pace with them.
Again, I would love to hear your thoughts!
How to Avoid Plagiarism With ChatGPT
Avoiding plagiarism with ChatGPT is straightforward. When using ChatGPT to generate text or ideas, make sure that any content you create is original and cite your sources. Specifically:
- Use ChatGPT as a tool to generate ideas, not as a replacement for your own thinking or writing. ChatGPT can provide inspiration or help you to frame your ideas, but it’s essential to ensure that the content you create is your own.
- Properly attribute any information or ideas that you use from ChatGPT. If you use ChatGPT to generate a sentence or paragraph, be sure to cite the source and give credit where it is due. This includes any text or ideas generated by ChatGPT that you incorporate into your work.
- Use plagiarism detection tools to scan your work for potential instances of plagiarism. Check out our list of online plagiarism checkers for writers.
For more tips on avoiding plagiarism, especially unintentional, read: Tips to Avoid Plagiarism in Freelance Writing.
ChatGPT and Plagiarism FAQ
Full disclosure: The content in this section was generated by ChatGPT
Can ChatGPT be used to plagiarize?
Yes, ChatGPT can be used to generate content that is plagiarized if it is not properly attributed to its sources. It’s essential to ensure that any content generated by ChatGPT is original and properly cited.
Can ChatGPT help detect plagiarism?
Yes, ChatGPT can be used to detect potential instances of plagiarism. By comparing text generated by ChatGPT with existing content, it may be possible to identify similarities or instances of potential plagiarism.
Is using ChatGPT to generate content considered plagiarism?
No, using ChatGPT to generate content is not considered plagiarism, as long as the content is original and properly cited. ChatGPT can be a useful tool for generating ideas and inspiration, but it’s essential to ensure that any content created is original and properly attributed to its sources.
How can I use ChatGPT responsibly and avoid plagiarism?
To use ChatGPT responsibly and avoid plagiarism, it’s essential to ensure that any content generated is original and properly attributed to its sources. This includes properly citing any information or ideas generated by ChatGPT and using plagiarism detection tools to scan your work for potential instances of plagiarism. By following these guidelines, you can use ChatGPT effectively and ethically while avoiding any issues with plagiarism.
I know many of you have strong feelings about ChatGPT. Let’s discuss!