What is Incremental Plagiarism and How Can You Avoid It?

Incremental Plagiarism

When it comes to plagiarism, most people aren’t aware of incremental plagiarism, even though it occurs a lot. This is because this form relates to plagiarism which occurs in the speech of a person. We’re not talking about adding just a word or a phrase.

What Is Incremental Plagiarism?

When someone has to make a speech and they plagiarize quotes, phrases or even whole parts of their speech from other speeches, they’re indulging in incremental plagiarism. As compared to other forms of plagiarism, this one is probably the least understood and often the most complicated to correct. Also, it is difficult to identify this kind of plagiarism.

However, correcting incremental plagiarism is a necessity because it can ruin the credibility of the person and also bring them public backlash. So, why is it overlooked so often? Because people don’t realize that it’s plagiarism!

So, before we take a closer look at incremental plagiarism, we’re going to look at the different types of plagiarisms.

1. Exact Copy

This is the kind of plagiarism that most people are aware of. Surprisingly, this is a rare form of plagiarism but it does garner more attention because it is so obvious to see. It’s also similar to outright stealing something from someone and is often punishable by law.

Copyright laws and rules are designed specifically to avoid this from happening and people can face heavy fines or even jail time in sued by the real owner of the content.

2. Recycling Old Work

This largely happens in schools and universities where students will try to pass off work done previously. Even if they are submitting their own work, it’s self-plagiarism and isn’t encouraged. It can cause a lot of complications and an unnecessary mess which could have been easily avoided.

The only time where you can get away with it is if you are citing your own research paper or an article that you worked on previously.

3. No Citations

Not adding citations when you’re paraphrasing something can also be considered to be plagiarism. It is also the most common type or form of plagiarism. Fortunately, it can be picked up quite easily by most plagiarism checkers. This means that there is a higher chance that it will be detected.

Keep in mind that paraphrasing the work might change the sentence structure but you are always supposed to mention the source, at the end of the sentence or the article, paper, etc.  

4. Quotes with No Citations

Similar to no citation plagiarism, this relates to when you add a quote or saying but without citing any source for them. It is necessary to always attribute quotes, statements, and other content that are not derived from you.

Unless you have said the quote, you shouldn’t be using it without any citations in your work. This is the area where most people often face problems because they’re often unsure of how to add citations to their speeches.

Not surprisingly, many people struggle in this department and often end up unintentionally plagiarizing the work of different people.

Plagiarism in speech occurs on a public level and can have a lot of consequences for the person

Major Examples of Incremental Plagiarism in the Public Eye

While in the past, there were loopholes and people could get away with a bit of plagiarizing; today, they don’t have the same anonymity. There are too many ways for people to check for instances of plagiarism.

Plus, this is no longer an issue limited to students only. Many famous people have also ended up in hot water because of incremental plagiarism in their speeches. The following are the most prominent examples:

a. Melania Trump

Melania Trump made headlines when she gave a speech at the Republican National Convention in 2016. A journalist, namely Jarret Hill, noticed that Trump’s speech sounded very familiar and did some research. What came to light was a huge case of incremental plagiarism.

It was clear that parts of Melania’s speech were plagiarized. In fact, most parts were lifted directly from a speech that was made by Michelle Obama in 2008 at the Democratic National Convention. To really put the similarities to the test, Melania’s speech was run through a plagiarism checker.

It showed a result of 47% similarity which meant that almost half of the speech was plagiarized. While many expressed disappointment, Trump’s team made the backlash worse by denying that the speech was plagiarized.

This ended up drawing heavy criticism from the masses and to this day, Melania’s speeches are scrutinized for plagiarism.

b. Manny V. Pangilinan

In 2010, Manny V. Pangilinan, a famed tycoon in the Philippines, delivered a great graduation speech at Ateneo de Manila University, which ranked among the best in the country. Shortly afterward, fans of the speech noted that there were many different areas of the speech which were plagiarized.

A closer look at the proof showed that there were portions which were lifted from speeches made by other celebrities, namely Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling, Conan O’Brien, and Barrack Obama.

Once he was called out, Pangilinan made a public apology, especially when the news of his plagiarism spilled outside the topic of just graduation. The ire and backlash he faced forced him to offer to resign from his position in the board of trustees at Ateneo.

Unlike the Trump incident, Pangilinan was able to recover from the backlash because he accepted sole responsibility for it and atoned appropriately. He was able to minimize the damage of the controversy and was able to encourage a dialogue about incremental plagiarism too.

Avoiding incremental plagiarism in your speech is not an impossible task and can be done easily

How Can You Avoid It?

Avoiding plagiarism is actually possible but it does take some time and careful planning. Unfortunately, when people are pressed for time, they are most likely to make mistakes and take shortcuts. In this case, you can follow the tips mentioned below to make sure that your speech is 100% original.

Be Honest

Most people face incremental plagiarism because they’re not honest about their sources or they don’t know when, where, or how to mention that they’re quoting someone else. It’s not like writing where you just include the source in parentheses at the end of the sentence. However, there’s still no reason for completely hiding the phrases either.

What Does Honesty Accomplish?

The most credible speakers are the ones who are open and honest about the sources and their material with their audience. They’re also planning the speech out like a small thesis. This might seem silly but it is a manner which encourages honesty:

  • The reason why they’re giving the speech – Thesis statement
  • What is going to be addressed in the speech – Summary
  • The main body of the speech – Thesis body
  • Someone once said/As stated by someone – Source citations

Planning the layout in this manner makes it easier to know where to add the oral citations and how you can be more honest in your speech. So, if you’re going to include something in your speech like a statistic or words from a famed personality, make sure you mention them.

Check for the Accuracy of the Sources

Before you start citing your sources, you want to make sure that you have the right ones. This means that you have to check up on all the facts that you are going to be quoting or stating. There are many quotes which are misattributed.

Sometimes, even the facts are made up. So make sure what you say is true and never underestimate the smartness of your listeners.

Use citations only from credible sources and spend a few hours finding all these sources. Never leave this to the last minute because, in the end, you’re the one who stated a certain fact and you will face backlash for a false fact.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s speeches are a huge example of this. He’s known for not checking his sources, citing stats that are made up or don’t exist and generally not checking to see what’s true. This has drawn a lot of backlashes, ridicule, and even damage to his credibility.

What to Cite and What to Skip

Now, another area where you need to pay attention to is what to cite in your work and what not to. As a general rule, anything which is common knowledge should not be cited because it is known by everyone. For example, stating a fact like the sun is a star doesn’t need to be confirmed with a source.

However, if you are mentioning something obscure, a study, statistics or anything which is not general knowledge, you will have to cite it. In fact, it is a rule that almost all facts and statements which can be classified as non-general knowledge need to be cited properly.

Again, Donald Trump is an example of someone who doesn’t bother to cite his work properly. In fact, he often makes non-general statements that have no citations to support them.

Remember, incremental plagiarism can pose a serious threat to your credibility. Keep the factors discussed above in mind to not only identify but also remove incremental plagiarism from your work!