10 things to know about giving credit

By · Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

If you’re new to reporting or editing, if you’re publishing on your own, if you’re not familiar with the ins and outs of plagiarism, here is a quick review that will help you to give proper credit and avoid plagiarizing someone else’s work.

  1. The more your work builds on someone else’s original efforts, the more inclined you should be to give credit.
  2. Always attribute direct quotes when they are taken from another source of any kind — another news organization, a blog, a television report. The same applies if you paraphrase direct quotes that appeared somewhere else.
  3. Always attribute any information taken from another source even if it is not a direct quote. Merely paraphrasing information is not a defense against plagiarism if a story makes it appear you gathered the information yourself when you did not.
  4. Consider whether the information is widely available. If it can be found only in one or two places, then attribute it.
  5. Go to — and credit — the primary source. Be sparing in depending on secondary sources, and be clear about it when you do.
  6. If you did not collect the information yourself, then credit the person who did.
  7. Practice the golden rule by asking, “If I collected this information myself, would I expect to be credited for it in someone else’s story?”
  8. Err on the side of caution. When in doubt, give credit.
  9. Be careful when copying and pasting. You can end up “taking” something and not realizing it. But that’s still no excuse. Rewrite and rephrase, and give credit.
  10. Remember that giving credit protects your own good name. Credit others, where appropriate, so that their mistakes don’t become your own.

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