Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle: The Problem of Self-Plagiarism

When people think “plagiarism”, they invariably think of the process of ripping off someone else’s words without attribution to that person. Easy enough to grasp in concept, but not always easy to assess in practice, absent an exact, word-for-word quote. But there is more to the concept of plagiarism than ripping someone else off. How about ripping yourself off? That too would constitute unethical plagiarism  – and the proper term for such repurposing is “self-plagiarism.”

Self-plagiarism, also known as “recycling fraud”, is a problem often found in academic circles. It arises when an author republishes an entire work, or reuses significant portions in a new work, without referencing the earlier work. It is more insidious because most people wouldn’t consider taking from oneself to be stealing. Nonetheless, self-plagiarism is an issue, particularly for publishers with interests in the original work. Additionally, to the extent it is passed off as new material, the self-plagiarism purports to be something it is not – virgin territory.

Traditional concepts of plagiarism do not easily encompass self-plagiarism. For example, the definition of plagiarism from the 1995 Random House Compact Unabridged Dictionary provides:

use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work 

My emphasis. And, from the Oxford English Dictionary:

the wrongful appropriation or purloining and publication as one’s own, of the ideas, or the expression of the ideas … of another

Again, my emphasis. Self-plagiarism, however, does not benefit from such solid agreement in definition – misuse of another’s work. Self-plagiarism involves re-use of identical or nearly identical portions of an author’s own writings, without acknowledging that the author is copying from his or her prior work and without citing the prior work. Thus, it differs significantly from the definition of plagiarism tied to the concept of intellectual theft from another, making self-plagiarism susceptible to significant dispute. Unlike plagiarism, there is nothing illegal about self-plagiarism, although it could subject one to civil liability to a copyright holder. And it certainly smacks of unethical behavior.

To the extent you are interested in learning more about self-plagiarism and its pitfalls, the fine folks at Paradigms LLC, the makers of iThenticate Software, have prepared a white paper explaining its intricacies. You can download the white paper here.

Practicing attorneys are encouraged to “self plagiarize” in creating legal documents – why reinvent the wheel when you already filed a brief on the same legal points last month or draft a contract without reference to language you employed in the standard terms in your prior contracts?  However, lawyers who moonlight as authors of legal treatises, periodicals, handbooks or other more commercially viable publications should at least confront the concept and understand the consequences. If you really find yourself troubled by the possibilities, you can always look into the iThenticate  software product – it compares manuscripts against more than 14 billion web pages, more than 30 million published research articles from 150 leading science, technical and medical publishers, and over 80,000 major newspapers, magazines and scholarly journals.

So, next time you want to use that gem you previously employed in a prior work, make sure you cite the source – you. Remember the four R’s: reduce; re-use; recycle; and, re-attribute.

 

Website Builder Central.ly Looks Great, Costs Nothing

What do you want for nothing? Shiny, slick and functional? You got it with Central.ly. Central.ly reminds me a lot of personal web page builders Flavors.me, About.me and Dooid, but it is really designed to promote a business rather than a person. Central.ly offers an incredibly simple website building tool – you simply add the business name, description, logo, and widgets you want to use, a background image, and color scheme and, Presto!, instant gorgeous web page. The single page links to other web sources for added info, such as Yelp reviews, Google Maps for directions, a blog hosted elsewhere, Facebook page, Twitter stream. You can set up a Contact page and integrate your MailChimp account as well. Use a central.ly/yourbusinesnamehere.com URL, or configure your own domain to work with Central.ly.

If you are starting up your business and don’t have a lot of time or money to invest in a web page, then Central.ly seems to have you nicely covered. Check out their demo video below to see how easy building your own website can be.

Make Hashtags Really Work with Joint

I leave the state for a couple of days and something new comes to town. New tool, Joint, brings a novel perspective on Twitter hashtags and conversations around topics, events or other subjects of common interest. Brought to you by the very fine folk who brought you Lazyfeed and Lazyscope, Ethan Gahng seems to have another winner here. Joint essentially takes Twitter hashtags and creates chat rooms around the tag – giving those interested in the tag a place to actively converse with others interested in the same topic. It also shows the Twitter stream of users tweeting the hashtag – you can tweet directly with the hashtag from the interface, invite the tweeters into the chat, engage in the chat, neither or both. In the left column, there is a list of all of the hashtags you have visited – also known as channels. Once you visit, they stay in that column for later perusal. This column will also show you when there is a new tweet on a hashtag or people in the chatroom for that hashtag. Chat stays inside the application. When you join a channel, Joint prompts you to tweet about it in order to encourage others to join in – there is a link to the chat in the tweet. Check out a sample window (of Ethan’s view) from the “How Joint Works” button.

I find it difficult to follow hashtags. I do use them occasionally, mostly for Follow Friday or when I need to get some angles on a particular topic like iPhones, iPads, or other discreet subjects that are likely to have lots of up to date tweets. But you really can’t interact effectively around them, particularly if you are not following the tweeters and/or they don’t follow you. Joint solves that communications barrier by offering two means within one window to discuss the news. Check out the main directory to find active chats / hashtags and jump right in.

Joint would be absolutely perfect for keeping on top of events (conferences, seminars, natural disasters) and actually speaking with others about and sharing around them, rather than passively watching 140 characters bites flow by.

Just as I have found with Lazyfeed and Lazyscope, Ethan is genius at taking good ideas (blogs, Twitter) and making them far more effective, while keeping it simple for the end user. Check out Joint and check back here with your thoughts.

Making Google + and +1 Better Together

Combining Google+ and +1 has always seemed like a no-brainer to me. They both have a + in their name, for Pete’s sake! But us Google+ users have seen little use for the previously released +1 button (that little box that lets you “recommend” a page to friends much like Facebook’s “like” button). Up until now.

Today, Google announced a new feature of the +1 button that directly affects, in a positive way, Google+ users – you can share directly to Google+ via the box that opens when you click on a web page’s +1 button. When you click on the “share to Google+” link in the box, you will get a link, a bit of text describing the link and an image, which will appear in your Google+ stream when you “ok” the share. No more grabbing URLs, navigating to Google+ and manually adding the link into your status box. Now there really is a reason to click on that +1 button – easy Google+ sharing.

Google is also releasing to publishers and designers the ability to edit the shared “snippet” via code for each page of a site. This gives control to the owner of the site over the content that ultimately is shared to Google+. Nice for both the user and the publisher.

Check out the announcement below. The feature will roll out over the next few days / week, but you can get an early view if you head over and sign up for the Google+ Platform Preview. Now they just need to figure out a way to catalog +1’s within Google+, so we can all keep a record of what we like.

Scan Biz Cards Into Your Phone with Google Goggles

Sure you can hire one of those fancy business card scanning services. Or you can get all that juicy, paper-bound contact info into your digital assistant with the very much free Google Goggles. Google Goggles permits searching the Web using pictures taken with your mobile phone. When describing, speaking or typing your search query just won’t cut it, simply open the app, snap a picture, and wait for your search results. You can get it on your Android phone via dedicated app or on your iPhone via the Google Search app.

But Goggles can do more. When you snap a picture of a business card (or any contact info on a page for that matter) you get the option to add it to your contact list. Goggles doesn’t just recognize the image as text, it will recognize it as a contact and open the appropriate action item on your phone. Pretty freaking cool.

Want to see how? Check out the Demo Slam video below. And start snapping.

March Of The iPhones

The rumor mill has been churning steadily as of late, gaining froth as we approach the most recently speculated release date for the latest iPhone, dubbed “5”. Normally, I don’t really like to engage in the speculation because, well, it’s just speculation. But I can’t resist an infographic, even if column 5 is pure speculation. Nice to see the continuum of changes in this iconic device, even if it is a tale of fiction in the end, albeit well researched fiction.

 

Hat tip to InfoMobile.

 

What Do You Want For Nothing? Credenza

Great tip on a legal product over at Bob Ambrogi’s LawSites (a fantastic legal tech blog if you are unfamiliar). Credenza offers practice management software to lawyers, charging $24.95 per month for the goods (Credenza Pro).  But Credenza has just come out with a slightly simpler version for free – Credenza Basic.

Credenza’s system is great for lawyers who love Outlook – the software works within Outlook, adding features that will help you organize your calendar, tasks, emails, documents, research, phone calls, notes, billable time by client matter, file or project. It will track time as you work. The process adds “files” to Outlook, which essentially operate as tags for your tasks. Organize those tags according to any system you wish and mark time spent accordingly. Check out the list of tagging and organizing functionality within Credenza Basic:


There are differences between Basic and Pro, as there should be for $24.95 per month. The big differences are multiple users and integrated billing software – you can take that time you tracked within Credenza and create a corresponding invoice to clients. But if it is simply little old you plugging away, then the free option makes tons of sense. Head on over to the site and check out the links on each of the functions listed above – there is a lot to digest. Thanks, Credenza!

Zukmo Is Your Cloud-Based Filing System

Sometimes browsing the Web feels a little like a game of “catch and release.” You happen upon interesting content, you consume it, and then you release it back into the wild. Invariably, at some point in the future, you may find yourself vaguely remembering having seen something once that might pertain to something you need to know right now, but you can’t quite put your finger on it ….

If you aren’t too fond of the circular file-like cycle of information consumption on the Web, then Zukmo might be your new best friend. At it’s heart, its a bookmarking system. But it’s clever-simple interface and deep functionality make it worth a look. The key functions of Zukmo are the ability to store, access, and share content. Content is culled from various sources around the Web to be stored in Zukmo’s one, centralized location. Create your account for free, drag the bookmarklet up into your browser bar, click it when you are on a page you want to keep and you can then retrieve it at your “My Zukmo” page, either via the bookmarklet link or at their website.  A very nice feature is the ability to import bookmarks from your browser and Google and sync with Delicious and other sources so that you can keep everything centralized. A very, very nice feature is the ability to add the bookmarklet to your mobile browser on your iPhone and iPad – where I do most of my reading anyway.

But it isn’t just about your Web bookmarks. You can also bookmark and upload local documents to My Zukmo, which then become part of the search universe within Zukmo. You can pull content from your Twitter stream, from Google Docs, from YouTube and Vimeo and from Slideshare and view them within Zukmo. The search function offers full text and attribute search across all of the stored content and streams and get back highlighted results, like a Google search. You can distribute out of Zukmo to Facebook and Twitter, by email, or all three at the same time.

When you save in Zukmo, the app uses a simplification process to improve readability, showing only the key content, without the usual Web page gobbledy gook. There is also an Easy Reader button on each entry, which essentially shows the substance in a printer-friendly format. Finally, you can use Zukmo as an automatic sharing hub to Facebook and Twitter, and access your content from any device, anywhere. Check out the sample screenshot of your My Zukmo page. Nice and clean:

Zukmo really offers an incredibly amount of storage service for free. Besides considering it for your bookmarking needs, the document add feature brings Zukmo closer to a cloud backup solution for a large segment of your own personal data. Not a bad deal for the price.

Google Related

Have you heard about this new Chrome extension, Google Related? I think it is pretty cool indeed. Related works on your Google search page, adding related content in real time via a bottom bar. Search your topic, glance at the bar and see other information that pertains to your search. Peruse that related content without losing your original search result. For example, check out the image below – if you search for a restaurant, Related may show you maps and directions, reviews, other similar places or other nearby places.

There is also a built-in +1 button so that you can approve of your results. As you may know, those +1’s will show up on a tab on your Google Profile for later review. Check out this version of the page on a research topic.

You can hit this link here and get the extension yourself. You can also check out the video below for even more information. Nice add, Google!

Search & Send: It's What We Do

In case you were wondering just what exactly adult Americans spend their time doing online, you can rest easy now. Just as in 2002, we almost universally spend some of our time online sending emails and searching for stuff. Pew Internet Research conducted its annual survey on Internet usage and has just issued its report based on its findings. The results were culled from data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from April 26 to May 22, 2011, across a sample of 2,277 adults, age 18 and older. The numbers have remained fairly consistent with respect to these activities over the years: this most recent survey shows that 92% of online adults use search engines to find information on the Web, with 59% doing so on a typical day, and 92% use email, with 61% using it on a typical day. The overall number of users of both email and search engines has also grown: in January 2002, 52% of all Americans used search engines and in May, 2011 72% of all Americans used search engines. In January 2002, 55% of all Americans used email and in May, 2011, 70% of all Americans used email. And these numbers are fairly uniform across the generations. The report further breaks down results by gender, race, education, and household income. Three other uses were measured, with getting news and buying products holding steady over the 2002 to 2011 time frame. Using social networking sites didn’t register in 2002, but from 2004 to 2011, usage jumped dramatically from 11% to 65%.

Interesting results, no doubt. It is interesting to me that social sites have not put a bigger dent in both email and search as means for communicating and finding relevant information. I anticipate that social net use will eventually have that effect as communication tools and relevance-based news tools within the sites improve. Guess we will have to wait and see.