Plagiarism – Academic Dishonesty

What is plagiarism?

It is extremely important that you understand what plagiarism is and take steps to avoid it:

Plagiarism is taking another person’s words or ideas and using them as if they were your own. 

While plagiarism most commonly occurs in written essays or dissertations, it can happen in any form of assessed work. Plagiarism is taken very seriously at Higher Education. In more serious cases, you as student can be expelled from the university. 

Plagiarism has always gone on, but the growth of internet has made it much easier, with a massive expansion of the amount of information available to students. There can be a temptation to “cut and paste” sentences or paragraphs from websites and to insert them into your own essay. This is not acceptable. As well as being dishonest, plagiarism is ultimately self-defeating as you will not learn by copying. Essays and assignments are as important to your development and eventual success as exams. Nor does plagiarism necessarily mean better marks. But perhaps the most convincing argument that can be made against plagiarism is that there is a high chance that you will get caught. Just as the internet has made plagiarism more tempting, it has also made it much easier to detect.

Avoiding plagiarism

It is impossible to study at university without using other people’s ideas – otherwise how would you learn? So, how do you overcome this problem – the need to avoid plagiarism while using and referring to other people’s ideas? The answer is that you can include other people’s ideas in your work as long as you do not just repeat what you have read. 

Instead, you need to: translate these ideas into your own words, add you own thoughts and analysis (“commentary”) about what you have included. In other words, it is acceptable to use other people’s ideas in your work but it is essential that you build on these ideas (adding your thoughts) and in so doing create your own, original work. However, in order to avoid plagiarism, there is a second important thing you must do when you use other people’s ideas in your work: you must acknowledge what you have done. The way you do this is by including references in your text (citing/citations) and a bibliography at the end of your work.