Plagiarism is the act of taking someone else's work or idea and passing it off as your own. The consequences for plagiarism apply even for unintentional plagiarism.
Types of plagiarism
- Directly quoting other people's words from online or printed sources without acknowledgement (you also need to acknowledge using images, tables, graphs, statistics, videos, music, formulae, laboratory data).
- Paraphrasing or summarising someone else's thoughts or ideas without crediting and citing your source (even using someone else's ideas and rewriting it in your own words needs to be referenced).
- Careless or incomplete referencing of your source.
- Copying or buying an essay and handing it in as your own work.
- Falsely creating a reference that doesn't exist.
- Presenting another student's research data as your own.
- Collusion – presenting an assignment as your own independent work when it has been produced in whole or part with other people (for example another student or tutor).
The best way to avoid plagiarism is to recognise when you need to provide a reference.
- If you have quoted directly from someone else's work you must place double quotation marks around the text and provide a reference.
- If you have paraphrased someone else's work or used another persons idea or theory you must provide a reference.
- If what you are writing is common knowledge or your own thought you don't need to provide a reference.
Other strategies to avoid plagiarism include:
- Start early. Mistakes often occur when you are rushed and there are no short cuts for referencing. Remember, you may be penalised for incorrect referencing.
- Always note all the details you need for your reference list, particularly when printing from the Internet or electronic journal databases. Consult the referencing style guides for these details.
- Remember to check with your lecturer which referencing style they would prefer you to use.
- You may be asked to use a plagiarism detection software to check your assignments.
More information about why you need to reference and the importance of avoiding plagiarism is available in the Academic Integrity at VU guide.