Studying Effectively

Avoiding plagiarism

Plagiarism means to pass off someone else’s work, intentionally or unintentionally, as your own.

This might be by copying or paraphrasing someone's published or unpublished work without proper acknowledgment, or representing someone's artistic or technical work or creation as your own. 

The University's policy on plagiarism

An act of Academic Misconduct is, generally speaking, any action in which may give a student an unpermitted academic advantage; as such, it is not acceptable in a scholarly community The most common examples of acts of Academic Misconduct are plagiarism, cheating in exams, collusion, and fabricating results or data. It can be, however, anything that gives you an unfair advantage in an assessment. 

Incidences of plagiarism will first be addressed within the School, and they may apply penalties such as giving you a mark of zero for the piece of work concerned. The University's Academic Misconduct Committee has the power to apply a range of penalties for serious or repeated cases, including terminating your course.

Tips for avoiding plagiarism

  • Don't just copy

    In your writing, describe other people's ideas or results (using references) and their importance to your argument, rather than simply copying what you've read.  Avoid using cut and paste options in electronic material as this encourages you to simply copy what you've read word for word.

  • Use a range of sources

    Don't just limit yourself to using one source when writing your assignments.  Discussing ideas from a range of sources shows that you have read widely and that you are able to formulate your own views based on your reading.  Remember, important sources can be available in print and electronic format.

  • Develop your own style

    You should develop your own style of writing during your time at University.  Try to be concise and clear.  Using the words of another author will stand out from the rest of your work and may alert lecturers to possible plagiarism.

  • Keep good quality notes

    If you are making notes from your sources, remember to put direct quotations in quotation marks and always keep a note of your sources. This will help to ensure that you do not accidentally plagiarise.  It also makes collating your references much easier when writing your assignments.  You can keep track of your references using a tool such as Endnote Web.

  • Use quotation marks

    If you do want to quote a short extract from another author's words exactly, make sure you enclose these words in quotation marks to indicate that it is a direct quote.  Direct quotes should be used sparingly and shouldn't include large amounts of text. They should be used where you are identifying an key idea or highlighting the place where you found the particular idea you are using. Don't forget if you are using someone else's ideas in your work you need to show this by referencing it.

Remember in all cases, you must reference your sources correctly. More on Referencing and citing.

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Further reading

Studying at university


Reading and interpreting sources and data

University regulations

Guidance for students

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