An Urgent Issue We All Need to Address: Plagiarism

Plagiarism

You might have already seen the discussion around this in the Facebook community or read a little about it in my recent newsletter, but it’s such an important issue I felt it warranted a longer blog post.

It recently came to my attention that a set of phrases and wording is being used across multiple immigration therapy websites and professional profiles – and it’s a problem.

I wanted to take some time to speak to you about why this needs highlighting and how we can all do our bit to elevate our professional community away from this problematic behavior.

Plagiarism; What’s Happening?

Plagiarism isn’t a new thing; we all know that.

We’ve all been to grad school and had it drummed into us about the consequences of plagiarizing the work of others in our research or academic writing.

But for some reason, in the digital spheres of our websites, blog posts, and professional profiles – we seem to think the same rules don’t apply?

It recently came to my attention that there was an issue in our community when a simple Google search for immigration evaluation clinicians brought up the exact text repeatedly across several different websites.

Why This Is An Issue

It might not seem like a ‘big deal,’ but it definitely needs addressing.

When we copy each other and use the exact words and phrasing to describe our professional services, we do a massive disservice to ourselves and our clients.

For Us

I’ve been working with many of you for some time now. While we might offer similar services, I can tell you that we are all unique in how we work with our clients, the values and priorities we choose to highlight, and the reasons why we decided to get involved with immigration evaluations in the first place.

When we simply cut and paste phrasing that might do well in describing what we do, do you think it really gets to the heart of who we are?

The services we offer might be the same, but the person offering them isn’t – and this is what we need to focus on when writing about and promoting the work we deliver.

For Our Clients

Our clients don’t just choose to work with us as a means to an end. The work we do is sensitive, and our clients want to feel safe, supported, and valued as people while going through this process.

Imagine you are a client, and you Google ‘immigration evaluation therapists’ in your area. The search results present you with a few pages of listings, but the ‘about’ and ‘services’ pages are all carbon copies of each other. How would this make you feel? Would you feel comfortable reaching out to any of these people?

Or would you start to feel like you might be treated like simply another number rather than a human being with complex needs?

I know how it would make me feel – and it isn’t good.

How to Proactively Tackle It In Your Own Work

I don’t want to judge or criticize anyone; that’s not why I’m writing this.

In truth, I get it. I completely understand why this is happening because I’ve been there. We are therapists, mental health professionals, and clinicians. Our skillsets are robust and extensive, but if you’re anything like me, it probably doesn’t include copywriting, content marketing, and selling yourself!

Because that’s what this type of writing aims to do, it makes sense that when attempting to put together your website, you’d look at what others have written, think, “that sounds great!” and not consider the consequences of simply copying what someone else has done.

It’s easy to get sucked into thinking that anything you might write just won’t be as good. But it’s this thinking we need to try and avoid.

Here are a few tips to help avoid this situation in your work:

Hire a copywriter to work with you.

It might seem like a bit of a no-brainer, but this is the easiest way to avoid plagiarism and get some quality copy for your website. Copy and content writers are specialized in working with you to amplify your voice, brand, and the services you offer.

If you really feel stuck with how to write about your services online, working with someone who’s made it their career will definitely help.

Inject your own story into your copy.

You might not be in the position yet to hire a writer to work with you, and that’s okay. Instead, when you’re looking to develop your copy for a website or professional profile, think about how you can make it your own.

Even if you see some copy that sounds good, consider how it applies to you. What is unique about you that would engage and invite a client to work with you? What’s your story, and why does it matter?

Don’t be afraid of showing some personality – this is how you differentiate yourself and your work.

Credit the original author (where appropriate).

If you get stumped and can’t think of a better way to say something you’ve seen written elsewhere, then simply credit them.

For example:

  1. “For a definition of immigration evaluations, I can’t put it better than my fellow professional XYZ when they wrote *insert copy and link back to where you found it*. “
  2. “My colleague, XYZ, once wrote *insert copy and linked back to where you found it* and I agree with this summary/description of the work we do.”

Using your own words and phrasing where you can is great, but if you can’t, be respectful and demonstrate integrity. There’s no shame in acknowledging when someone’s done a great job with something that speaks to you.

Use a plagiarism checker.

Many online writing resources, such as Grammarly, also offer a plagiarism check. These checks scan your work and compare it with content and writing across the internet. It then provides a percentage score and highlights any text found industry.

With the percentage score, anything under 7% is usually completely fine. Over this score, you should check what’s showing up elsewhere and ensure there is no large copied text. There will always be some crossovers and similar wording, especially within the same industry, but you don’t want to be an exact copy of someone else.

Take Some Time Today

Whether you’re writing some new copy or content for your professional digital spaces or you haven’t revisited them for some time, now’s a great time to double-check what you’ve written and make sure it speaks to who you uniquely are.

When we focus on being authentic and genuine, we inevitably offer something more of value to our clients than straightforward immigration evaluation services.

We show them who we are as humans, and I can guarantee that’s the kind of person they want to work with.

Cecilia Racine: Immigration Evaluation Therapist

I’m Cecilia Racine, and I teach therapists how to help immigrants through my online courses. As a bilingual immigrant myself, I know the unique perspective that these clients are experiencing. I’ve conducted over 500 evaluations and work with dozens of lawyers in various states. Immigrants are my passion, I believe they add to the fabric of our country.

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