Hamilton Mountain Writers’ Guild
Plagiarism Policy 2022 -1
Contributors: Group 5, Ron Henry, Communications Committee: Bob, Margaret, Neil
Approved by the HMWG Board of Directors – November 4th, 2021
As writers, we want to create and present work that is original to avoid plagiarism, in doing so, we take pride in our craft. Plagiarism is a serious matter for writers. Whether intentional or otherwise it can tarnish a person’s reputation and take away from others’ perception of the seriousness of their writing. When part of a writing guild, an author that plagiarises affects the status of the guild as a whole and the members by their association.
This policy reaches the heart of the HMWG mission, by fostering, promoting the development of, and being supportive of our writers.
We foster, encourage, and promote the development of writers in Hamilton, Ontario. Each writer belongs, irrespective of their writing skill. Our programs take the form of workshops peer-review, and opportunities for publishing within a supportive environment. We partner with community organizations to expand the experience of writing.
Literal Plagiarism is copying the work of another writer and representing it as one’s own.
It can be copying the whole work or copying as little as a few sentences.
Structural plagiarism. When your work is substantially the same as the one you are inspired by, even if you have changed names and details.
Titles can be used freely. So can base ideas. Many writers can write stories using the base idea “a pizza comes to life and starts killing people” and produce very different pieces. Similarly, using tropes that we share is not plagiarism. However, it is plagiarism if the work that inspires you is substantially the same, even if you have changed names and details.
Four types of plagiarism in the Hamilton Mountain Writers’ Guild:
The first is a plagiarist piece handed in at the writing group level. Although all plagiarism is serious, this would have the least impact on the Guild as it is internal and could be handled so. The writing coordinator will have correspondence with their team member about the piece. Identifying why the piece is plagiarized and what can be done to rectify the work.
The second is a personal piece that is posted on a personal website. Though the Guild has less control over these incidents, it’s in the Guild’s best interests to speak to the writer and help them better understand plagiarism. The writer would be asked to remove the piece of plagiarism that is connected to the Guild or simply remove the connection to the Guild.
The third is information written or spoken that is tied to the Guild. For example, this includes a personal story that is posted to the Guild’s Facebook page or linked to the Guild’s website. Also included in this are submissions to the Guild’s anthologies. This infraction would have a negative impact on the Guild, the board, and by association, all members of the Guild.
The fourth is content written on behalf of the Guild or about the Guild and posted on our website, Facebook page, or for media release. For example, this includes official guild writing resources, blog posts, or articles about the Guild. This would have a serious impact on the Guild, the board, and by association, all members of the Guild.
Note that plagiarism can and often is also a copyright infringement. This opens up the guilty person not only to further consequences from the Guild. but legal action from the original writer.
Why would one plagiarize?
One reason could be that the person simply did not realize or understand the implications of plagiarism. This could be because of pre-existing practices where copying from the internet for an assignment was acceptable.
Feeling inferior to other writers. Hence there is a need to copy others’ work to maintain a higher standard. A need to be noticed. This could easily tie into the previous point but takes the act of plagiarism to another level.
Personal gain or lack of clear deterrent. This level of plagiarism is done for the person to gain somehow by their actions, either by recognition, influence, or financial gain.
How will the Hamilton Mountain Writers’ Guild deal with plagiarism?
The Guild will ensure all members are aware of the plagiarism policy and make it clear that plagiarism will not be tolerated. The Guild will define strict protocols to deal with offenders.
Methods to assist all Guild members:
- A brochure will be available explaining plagiarism and the Guild’s intolerance of it. The brochure will be made available to all new members and posted on our website. Appendix 1
- A presentation to be made about plagiarism at a Guild meeting for all members, a brochure provided.
- Guidelines for correcting plagiarism are provided in Appendix 2.
- Within writing teams – Plagiarism could be handled by the team coordinator. The coordinator will document the corrective measures taken with the member. If the plagiarism issue is serious, the Board would then be notified. Recommendations from the Board will be provided to the team coordinator and person committing the plagiarism via phone call and follow-up email. Repeat offenders would be removed from the writing team.
- Outside the writing teams – for example; story entries, emails, Facebook posts, website entries, anything involving the Guild, the offender will be given a warning by the Board Chair or Secretary with an explanation of the seriousness of their actions, via phone call and follow-up email. Any subsequent offense would result in expulsion from the Guild
Plagiarism is a serious matter and should be taken seriously by the entire Guild.
Appendix 2: Avoiding plagiarism in the Guild presented by R Henry.
Giving credit for any borrowings is required. In a scholarly work, it is done in precise detail so that anyone can go and check the accuracy (and context).
How it is to be done in the Guild Anthologies, website or other HMWG platforms is the matter we tackle here through a series of questions and answers.
Question one. How much detail is required? The correct amount of detail to adhere to sourcing materials, but not so much that the reader is turned off from the work.
Question two. Where do we put these details?
(a) In an “Acknowledgements” section (usually in the Roman numeral pages right after the Preface) is one method. It could be a general statement. Joe Smith thanks the Hamilton Public Library for the materials studied. Or it could list the particular articles (giving page numbers) examined in gaining the information. The Acknowledgements would gather the credits for the whole book, and it would be up to the reader whether to even glance at those pages.
(b) A second method is brackets and/or italics. It could be a general “Thanks to the library” right under the title. Or details (name, page, etc.) could be inserted in brackets after every (or the occasional) quote. Readers find that this disruptive.
(c) A third idea is footnotes. Again, it could be the general “Thanks to the library” at footnote one in the title. Or it could be detailed throughout, numbered in the body, and the information at the bottom of the page. The quote is apt to go on one page with the footnote on the next. Footnotes, unlike bracketed inserts, have the advantage for the reader of being there if wanted, but being unobtrusive if not wanted.
(d) Endnotes are a little easier to format. The numeration is as with footnotes, but the total of the actual notes is saved to the end of the article. Again, their presence is unobtrusive. but there if needed. This would need to be noted in the publication with a star or something to see the endnotes for clarification.
Question three In the case of footnotes or endnotes, how do we distinguish the notes from the body? Books usually have two ways;
(a) The first is reduced print size. If the body is 12 point, the notes may be in 10 point.
(b) Other separations commonly used between body and notes are a hard line (short or across the page); indents right and left, or italics.
Question four How important is this matter?
The Guild must demonstrate due diligence in preventing plagiarism or be liable. The Guild would want to avoid being sued for using work that is not original. All members are responsible for creating original work.