How to avoid plagiarism?

Plagiarism is one of the more common forms of academic misconduct. Students and researchers who plagiarise often say that they only plagiarised because they didn’t know how to reference correctly or because they were under time pressure. These are not good excuses - it is your responsibility to plan ahead so that you finding good research sources and using them appropriately in your work, with the proper referencing style for your discipline or subject.

What is plagiarism?

Simply put, plagiarism is using the ideas, words, images or any form of representation made by someone else (authors, critics, journalists, academics, artists, lecturers, tutors, other students, and so on) without giving them proper acknowledgement. It is presenting the words and/or ideas of others as though they were your own, whether or not that information is plagiarised intentionally or unintentionally.

You always need to:

  • provide a reference whenever you include information from other sources in your work, and
  • use the appropriate citation or referencing style for your subject or discipline

Common forms of plagiarism

The following are examples of plagiarism where appropriate acknowledgement or referencing does not occur:

  • Copying
    • Copying significant parts of a sentence, sentences or paragraphs
    • Copying ideas, concepts, research results, statistical tables, computer programs, images, photographs, computer code, graphic designs, sounds or text
    • Submitting, as one's own, all or part of another student's original work
  • Inappropriate paraphrasing
    • Paraphrasing of another writer’s work with minor changes but with the essential meaning, form and/or progression of ideas maintained
  • Inadequate referencing
    • Providing a reference but not using quote marks around a section of directly copied text
    • Cutting or pasting statements from multiple sources or piecing together work of others and representing them as original work
    • Citing sources which have not been read, without acknowledging the 'secondary' source from which knowledge of them has been obtained.
  • Self-plagiarism
    • Preparing an original and correctly referenced assignment and submitting part or all of the assignment twice for separate subjects or marks

Sometimes a student might accidentally plagiarise. This is usually the result of a lack of academic writing skills, inexperience, poor note taking, or a combination of all of these. It is important that you learn and follow the acknowledgement practices for your subject or discipline, otherwise you may be investigated for alleged academic misconduct and end up with a finding of Poor Academic Practice. This might involve a minor penalty and recording of the incident on your Faculty’s Register.

Useful resources to avoid plagiarism

The Library provides guides on referencing and citing. Make sure that you check your subject outline to see which referencing style you are required to use, as the styles used may change in different disciplines, Schools and Faculties.