Studying Effectively

The importance of plagiarism and citation


Why do students plagiarise?

The JISC advisory service (Plagiarism Detection and Prevention 2001) has provided a list of possible reasons why students plagiarise, which is summarised below). The list does not distinguish between plagiarism from external sources (like journals and the web) and peer-plagiarism (or collusion with other students).

  • Bad time management skills
  • Unable to cope with the work load
  • "The tutor doesn't care, why should I?"
  • External pressure to succeed
  • Lack of understanding
  • "I can't do this!"
  • "I want to see if I can get away with it"
  • "I don't need to learn this, I only need to pass it"
  • "But you said work together!"
  • "But that would insult the experts in the field"

Why cite sources of information?

Citing your sources allows you to:

  • acknowledge your dependence on another person's ideas or words, and to distinguish clearly your own work from that of your sources
  • receive credit for the research you have done on a project, whether or not you directly quote or borrow from your sources
  • establish the credibility and authority of your knowledge and ideas
  • place your own ideas in context, locating your work in the larger intellectual conversation about your topic
  • permit your reader to pursue your topic further by reading more about it
  • permit your reader to check on your use of the source material.

It's reasonable for you to be expected to:

  • identify, analyse and interpret sources
  • cite and reference your sources
  • learn citation and referencing conventions
  • ask a lecturer to clarify when uncertain.

It's reasonable for you to expect from your lecturer:

  • clear indicators about where to learn the correct and appropriate citation conventions associated with the field of studies you are engaged in, usually in course or programme handbooks.
  • feedback indicating problems (warnings when you have not adhered to codes)
  • topics that are clear and researchable
  • requests to see documented evidence of writing process.
  • a clear warning that you have not adhered to the written conventions of citation and referencing required by your lecturer or school.

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