Many times a tool that is designed for one purpose has an unintentional second use. Nowhere is that more evident than the fight against plagiarism. For example, Google was designed to find information online, not other copies of a work already available. Nonetheless, it now reigns as the greatest and easiest way to find plagiarized copies of your work.
However, there’s a new entrant to the list of unintentional plagiarism fighters, Scrapbook, the powerful Firefox Extension to allow saving and browsing of sites offline, is also one of the best ways to organize and record your fight against plagiarism.
In fact, if you’re someone that handles several cases of plagiarism at once, the extension is practically a must-have.
What Scrapbook Does
Scrapbook lets you save Web pages, entire sites or portions of a page to your hard drive for viewing offline. It also lets you organize your collection into folders, add notes to entries, highlight key passages and reference the original source.
Originally, I downloaded the extension in order to organize references for Plagiarism Today. However, lately, I’ve been using its “Capture Page” feature to cache and organize sites that plagiarize my work. It’s proved to be an invaluable tool and incredible time saver.
In fact, it’s already replaced my previous database system, Microsoft Access, as a better, faster and easier way of keeping track of plagiarism cases.
How It Helps
One of the great challenges in dealing with many different plagiarism cases is keeping track of the incidents and following up on them. Generally, once you start to handle over about five or six cases, it’s important to find some way to organize everything that you’re doing and ensure that nothing fell through the cracks.
Scrapbook lets you do exactly that but both more effectively and more efficiently than any other method. With one click you archive the page and place it into a folder. You can then add notes to the page, highlight key passages, search the pages that you’ve saved and even omit portions that you don’t need. All of this can be done instantly and within the confines of your browser.
Compare this with using a database or jotting notes down on paper. Either system requires you to leave your browser, write down a large volume of information and hope that things don’t get too disorganized.
Best of all though, with Scrapbook, you not only have a record of plagiarists and your actions against them, but you have a saved copy of the infringement on your hard drive. Thus, if the work is taken down or altered, you still have proof of what happened and, should you need to go back over your records, something to remind you of the incident.
In the end, if you use a Webmail system such as GMail, Hotmail or Yahoo!, you’ll never have to leave your browser over the course of your fight and you can keep the information conveniently displayed in the sidebar.
However, while it’s time saving capabilities are best targeted at Webmasters with a great deal of plagiarism to handle, even those who have only encountered a few instances will benefit from its record-keeping ability.
Still, even though it’s a very powerful tool for both general use and plagiarism fighting, it does have a few limitations that should be noted.
First, though the ability to edit pages once they have been saved is a great feature most of the time, it limits the programs usefulness for storing evidence in any kind of court case. One should never count on anything archived on their hard drive in such matters, but that goes double for anything saved with Scrapbook. For that kind of evidence, one would be better off turning to the Web Archive rather than anything on their own computer.
Second, Scrapbook will not necessarily save all of the information that you need to pursue a case. If the information is not the page that you’re saving, it might not be saved at all. You can always save additional pages (and place them within their own folder if needed) or input the information into the notes. But the lack of custom fields might frustrate database users who are interested in powerful searches.
Finally, Scrapbook’s filing system can get very big. If you handle a large volume of cases, both the file tree and the archives can get very large and it might be necessary to purge out old cases after a certain period of time or at least trim all of the fat from them.
Of course, in the end, these are all minor complaints. Scrapbook is the best organizational system I’ve found for handling plagiarism cases and it’s an amazing fine considering that such a use was probably the farthest thing from its creators’ minds.
It’s a powerful program that almost no one can do without, especially those protecting their copyrights.
It’s just the fastest and easiest way to keep track and record everything surrounding your plagiarism fight and, when combined with a Webmail solution, can help create an all-in-one package that will be very difficult to beat.
[tags]Plagiarms, Scrapbook, Firefox, Copyright Infringement, Copyright, Extensions, Firefox Extensions[/tags]