/ A Guide to Ghostwriting & Ghost Citation Plagiarism

A Guide to Ghostwriting & Ghost Citation Plagiarism

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Manish Jindal

March 27, 2024


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A Guide to Ghostwriting & Ghost Citation Plagiarism

Key Takeaways:

  • Ghost Citation Plagiarism (GCP): This involves citing fake sources that don’t exist, undermining research and academic integrity.
  • Both GCP and ghostwriting (using an uncredited writer) misrepresent authorship and violate the core principle of original work.
  • GCP is a serious offense that can lead to penalties, expulsion, or job loss. It weakens trust in research and scholarship.
  • Proper citation practices are crucial. Always cite credible sources you’ve consulted and avoid ghost citations.

Ghost citation plagiarism, a lesser-known type among various forms of plagiarism, involves citing intangible sources.

This article explores this concept, along with Ghost Writer Plagiarism, where the real author is obscured by a ghost writer’s authorship.

We delve into how these practices defy the policies into writing, misleading readers about the original source of information.

This entire article aims to shed light on these deceptive practices and promote academic integrity.

What is Ghost Writing?

Ghostwriting is a form of writing where someone writes in the style and voice of another person whose name is attached to the work.

The ghostwriter produces the written content for the project but their own author name is never mentioned. Instead, the writing is presented as if it is coming from the person they are writing for.

Ghostwriting is defined as having work written on your behalf by another writer, but you take credit for it. The public believes that you produced the content, but it was actually made by another individual. Since ghostwriters do not receive credit for their work, they typically charge a premium.

Ghostwriting can be used for various types of content. Web pages, blog posts, whitepapers, case studies, social media content, email newsletters, songs, movie scripts, and more fall into this category.

Ghostwriters are often used by individuals who either lack sufficient skill to write a particular project or lack sufficient time to write the project. This includes CEOs, who are busy running a company and often don’t have the time to write content themselves

What Is Ghost Writer Plagiarism?

Ghost writer plagiarism refers to the act of using a ghostwriter to create work that is then credited to another person. This is the act of passing off someone else’s work as your own.

For a number of reasons, this could be seen as plagiarism:

  1. Misrepresentation of Authorship: The fundamental principle of plagiarism is the misrepresentation of authorship. In the case of ghostwriting, the person who is credited as the author is not the person who actually wrote the work. This is a clear misrepresentation of authorship.
  2. Lack of Acknowledgment: Plagiarism also involves the failure to properly acknowledge the sources of information or ideas. In ghostwriting, the ghostwriter, who is the true source of the content, is not acknowledged.
  3. Violation of Academic Integrity: In academic settings, ghostwriting is considered a serious violation of academic integrity. Students are expected to submit their own original work for grading. Using a ghostwriter is seen as an attempt to deceive the evaluators.

However, it’s important to note that ghostwriting is not always considered plagiarism.

In many cases, ghostwriters enter into agreements where they knowingly and willingly give up their claim to authorship.

This is common in industries like publishing and music. But even in these cases, ethical questions can arise about the transparency and authenticity of the credited author’s contributions.

In short, while ghostwriting is a common practice in many industries, it can be considered a form of plagiarism in certain contexts, particularly in academic settings.

It’s always important to use original work and give credit where credit is due to avoid any potential issues with plagiarism.

What is Ghost Citation Plagiarism?

Ghost citation plagiarism (or GCP) refers to the practice of citing sources that do not exist or are fictitious. This can occur when a writer invents a citation to support their argument or when they cite a source that they have not actually consulted.

This form of plagiarism is considered serious because it misrepresents the source of information, deceiving readers into believing that the information has been validated by a non-existent source. It undermines the credibility of the research process and the integrity of the academic community.

In academic writing, all sources of information must be accurately cited to give credit to the original authors and to allow readers to verify the information. Ghost citations violate these principles, making them a form of academic dishonesty.

In short, GCP is a serious form of misconduct that involves citing non-existent or fictitious sources. It’s important to always cite accurately and honestly to maintain the integrity of the academic and research community.

Why is Ghost Citation Plagiarism Bad?

GCP is considered bad for several reasons:

Misrepresentation of Research: Ghost citations misrepresent the research process. They give the false impression that the writer has done more research than they actually have, or that their arguments are more widely supported than they are.

Undermines Academic Integrity: Academic integrity is based on honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility. Ghost citations violate these principles by presenting false information and not giving proper credit to the actual sources of information.

Hampers Verification of Information: Citations allow readers to verify the information and explore the topic further. Ghost citations, being non-existent or fictitious, prevent readers from verifying the information, thereby undermining the credibility of the work.

Potential Legal Consequences: In some cases, GCP can lead to serious legal consequences, especially in academic and professional settings. It can lead to penalties, loss of reputation, and in severe cases, expulsion or job termination.

Devalues Genuine Work: Ghost citations devalue the work of genuine researchers and writers who invest time and effort in conducting thorough research and providing accurate citations.

In short, GCP is considered bad because it undermines the principles of academic integrity, hampers the verification of information, and devalues genuine work. It’s always important to cite accurately and honestly to maintain the integrity of the academic and research community.

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How to Avoid Ghost Citation Plagiarism?

Avoiding ghost citation plagiarism involves careful research and accurate citation practices. Here are some strategies to help you avoid this issue:

  • Accurate Citation: Always ensure that the sources you cite actually exist and that you have consulted them. Make sure to accurately represent the ideas and information from these sources.
  • Thorough Research: Conduct thorough research to ensure that the sources you cite are credible and relevant to your work.
  • Proper Paraphrasing and Quoting: If you use someone else’s ideas or words, make sure to properly paraphrase or quote them, and always give credit to the original author.
  • Use a Plagiarism Checker: Before submitting your work, use a plagiarism checker to ensure that you have not inadvertently included any ghost citations.
  • Keep Track of Your Sources: Maintain a detailed record of all the sources you consult during your research. This can help you ensure that all your citations are accurate and that you have not included any ghost citations.
  • Understand the Consequences: Be aware of the potential consequences of ghost citation plagiarism, including academic penalties and damage to your reputation.

By following these strategies, you can ensure that your work is original, accurately cited, and free from the said type of plagiarism.

What’s Next?

Ghost citation plagiarism, one of the many forms of plagiarism, undermines original authorship and personal integrity.

It blurs the boundary between plagiarism and original presentation, challenging the expectation of originality adopted in academia. When a writer copies without citing sources, it’s not a black-and-white issue; it’s a lack of integrity.

The basic ideas of intellectual property and author generosity are violated. Our advice to students: uphold your original ideas.

Use Bytescare Plagiarism Checker to ensure your work respects the original authorship. For more information, contact us at Bytescare.


Is ghostwriting plagiarism?

Ghostwriting can be perceived as a breach of originality, often termed ghost writer misconduct, where the ghostwriter’s contributions are falsely represented as the original efforts of the credited author.

Why is ghostwriting not always seen as plagiarism?

Ghostwriting isn’t uniformly viewed as a breach of originality because it often involves a mutual agreement where the ghostwriter willingly relinquishes their claim to authorship. The acceptability of ghostwriting can depend on various factors, including the audience’s expectations and the significance of authorship to the piece.

How is ghost citation plagiarism different from other types of plagiarism?

Unlike other forms of plagiarism that involve copying someone else’s work, ghost citation involves citing sources that do not exist.

What are the consequences of ghost citation plagiarism?

It can lead to academic penalties, loss of reputation, and in severe cases, expulsion or job termination.

Is ghost citation plagiarism a common problem?

While not as common as other forms of copying, GCP does occur and is a serious issue in academic and professional settings.

Can ghost citation plagiarism be accidental?

Yes, it can be accidental if a writer mistakenly cites a source that they believe exists but does not. However, it’s the writer’s responsibility to verify their sources.

Is using a ghostwriter the same as ghost citation plagiarism?

No, using a ghostwriter is not the same as GCP. While both involve some form of misrepresentation, they are different issues.

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