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.