What is Plagiarism?
Plagiarism is presenting someone else’s work or ideas as your own, with or without their consent, by incorporating it into your work without full acknowledgement. All published and unpublished material, whether in manuscript, printed or electronic form, is covered under this definition. Plagiarism may be intentional or reckless, or unintentional. Under the regulations for examinations, intentional or reckless plagiarism is a disciplinary offence.
Forms of plagiarism
Verbatim (word for word) quotation without clear acknowledgement –
Quotations must always be identified as such by the use of either quotation marks or indentation, and with full referencing of the sources cited. It must always be apparent to the reader which parts are your own independent works and where you have drawn on someone else’s ideas and language.
Cutting and pasting from the Internet without clear acknowledgement –
Information derived from the Internet must be adequately referenced and included in the bibliography. It is important to evaluate carefully all material found on the Internet, as it is less likely to have been through the same process of scholarly peer review as published sources.
the work of others by altering a few words and changing their order, or by closely following the structure of their argument, is plagiarism if you do not give due acknowledgement to the author whose work you are using.
Inaccurate citation –
It is important to cite correctly, according to the conventions of your discipline. As well as listing your sources (i.e. in a bibliography), you must indicate, using a footnote or an in-text reference, where a quoted passage comes from. Additionally, you should not include anything in your references or bibliography that you have not actually consulted. If you cannot gain access to a primary source you must make it clear in your citation that your knowledge of the work has been derived from a secondary text (for example, Bradshaw, D. Title of Book, discussed in Wilson, E., Title of Book (London, 2004), p. 189).
Failure to acknowledge assistance –
You must clearly acknowledge all assistance which has contributed to the production of your work, such as advice from fellow students, laboratory technicians, and other external sources. This need not apply to the assistance provided by your tutor or supervisor, or to ordinary proofreading, but it is necessary to acknowledge other guidance which leads to substantive changes of content or approach.
Why does plagiarism matter?
Plagiarism is a breach of academic integrity. It is a principle of intellectual honesty that all members of the academic community should acknowledge their debt to the originators of the ideas, words, and data which form the basis for their own work. Passing off another’s work as your own is not only poor scholarship, but also means that you have failed to complete the learning process. Plagiarism is unethical and can have serious consequences for your future career; it also undermines the standards of your institution and of the degrees it issues.
Why should we avoid plagiarism?
There are many reasons to avoid plagiarism. We have come to university to learn to know and speak our own mind, not merely to reproduce the opinions of others – at least not without attribution. At first it may seem very difficult to develop our own views, and you will probably find yourself paraphrasing the writings of others as our attempt to understand and assimilate their arguments. However it is important that we learn to develop your own voice. We are not necessarily expected to become an original thinker, but we are expected to be an independent one – by learning to assess critically the work of others, weigh up differing arguments and draw our own conclusions. Students who plagiarize undermine the ethos of academic scholarship while avoiding an essential part of the learning process.
We should avoid plagiarism because we aspire to produce work of the highest quality. Once we have grasped the principles of source use and citation, we should find it relatively straightforward to steer clear of plagiarism. Moreover, we will reap the additional benefits of improvements to both the lucidity and quality of our writing. It is important to appreciate that mastery of the techniques of academic writing is not merely a practical skill, but one that lends both credibility and authority to our work, and demonstrates our commitment to the principle of intellectual honesty in scholarship.
Why students do plagiarism?
There are many reasons students choose to plagiarize or cheat. Reasons range from the more genuine lack of knowledge to outright dishonorable intentions. Collectively, the most frequently stated reasons students choose to plagiarize or cheat include:
- Desire to get a good grade
- Fear of failing
- Procrastination or poor time management
- Disinterest in the assignment
- Belief they will not get caught
- Confusion about what constitutes plagiarism or current university policies
None of these instances are acceptable reasons to plagiarize, cheat, or commit other acts of academic dishonesty. Students who choose to plagiarize or cheat give themselves an unfair advantage on assignments and disrespect the hard work of others in the class. It is important that students understand that while there are reasons one might choose to plagiarize or cheat, professors are interested in evaluating each student’s own, original work, not in evaluating the work done by others.
How to avoid plagiarism?
At its core, plagiarism is an ethical issue. A writer who submits plagiarized work is committing theft with the hope of benefiting from that theft. This is true whether you’re turning in a school paper to get an “A” or are a writer by trade expecting monetary compensation.
Avoiding plagiarism is paramount as a writer because it compromises your integrity. Aside from losing the respect of your mentors and peers, it could cost you valuable professional referrals and future career advancement. If you’re still in school, plagiarism may result in lost financial aid or leadership roles. Additionally, it takes credit or profit away from the original creator of the work which may mean more trouble if the source takes legal action against you.
5 ways to avoid plagiarism
Fortunately, it’s not all scary. Avoiding plagiarism is actually easy to do now that you have a foundational understanding of what it is. To help you steer clear of this taboo, here’s how to avoid plagiarism in your writing.
1. Cite your source
When alluding to an idea or wording that’s not your own, add a citation in your writing that identifies the full name of the source, the date it was published, and any other citation element that’s required by the style guide you’re adhering to.
2. Include quotations
If you insert a source’s words into your writing, verbatim, one of the most simple yet obvious ways to avoid plagiarism is by using quotation marks around the text to denote that the words aren’t your own. A direct quote should also cite the source so that readers know who the quote is from.
Paraphrasing is rewriting a source’s ideas or information into your own words, without changing its meaning. But be careful—paraphrasing can slip into plagiarism if done incorrectly. Successfully paraphrasing without plagiarizing involves a bit of a dance. Reword and format your writing in an original way, and try to avoid using too many similar words or phrases from the source. The key is to do so without altering the meaning of the idea itself. Remember, you’re still using another’s idea so you’ll need to include a citation to the source.
4. Present your own idea
Instead of parroting the source’s ideas or words, explore what you have to say about it. Ask yourself what unique perspective or point you can contribute in your writing that’s entirely your own. Keep in mind that if you’re alluding to a source’s ideas or words to frame your own point, you’ll still need to apply the guidelines above to avoid plagiarizing.
If you’re writing on the same topic for multiple assignments, it can be tempting to recycle some of your previous words—this is called “self-plagiarism”. The risk involved with self-plagiarism is just as high if the publisher or your instructor didn’t give you permission to reuse your old work.
5. Use a plagiarism checker
While conducting your research on a topic, some phrases or sentences might stick with you so well that you inadvertently include them in your writing without a citation. When in doubt, using an online plagiarism checking tool can help you catch these issues before submitting your work.
There are several plagiarism checkers online, such as the one offered by Small SEO Tools. Grammarly also offers a plagiarism checker that scans your text for borrowed content for free. These tools let you know whether or not parts of your writing are plagiarized—and some even highlight the specific words or sentences of concern and identify where the text originated from. These suggestions can be helpful in avoiding plagiarism in your work and is worth the effort. In addition to being more aware of what constitutes plagiarism, figuring out how to avoid plagiarism ultimately takes daily practice.