How to avoid plagiarism

When you use the work of others, whether published, unpublished or posted on web sites, attributed or anonymous, you must include proper acknowledgment.

In its most simple form plagiarism is any attempt to present someone else’s ideas, words, code, art, intellectual property as your own. It involves any activity where you fail to give credit for the ideas of others either intentionally or unintentionally.

In the Murdoch University Handbook, plagiarism is defined as follows:

Plagiarism constitutes using the work of another without indicating by referencing (and by quotations marks when exact phrases or passages are borrowed) that the ideas expressed are not one’s own. (2009, p. 33)

Plagiarism takes many forms. Some common types of plagiarism include:

  • Copying and Pasting (copying and pasting portions of text from online journal articles or websites without proper citation)
  • Downloading or buying research papers (Downloading a free paper from a web site or paying to download a paper and submitting it as your own work)
  • Copying or submitting someone else's work (copying a paper/lab report/formula/design/computer code/music/choreography/assignment etc. and submitting it as your own work)
  • Submitting a paper that had been submitted previously
    (Harris, 2002, p. 13)

The Murdoch University Handbook adds the following information:

Your work must include some of your own intellectual contribution. You can use the ideas and information from other authors, but this must be acknowledged. It is however, not acceptable for you to submit an assignment that is simply linking quotes together and or a paraphrasing of extracts from other authors.

Plagiarism - "Plagiarism is passing off someone else's work, whether intentionally or unintentionally, as your own for your own benefit" (Carroll, 2002, p. 9). It is important to understand that plagiarism even if it is unintentional is unacceptable and is not excused.

Collusion – In this form of plagiarism, students submit work that is so alike in content that similarity goes beyond coincidence. When submitting an assessment task students sign a declaration on the coversheet they submit with assignments. This declaration reads as follows:

Except where I have indicated [through referencing], the work I am submitting in this assignment is my own work and has not previously been submitted for assessment in another unit

Ghost writing – In this form of plagiarism, an assignment has been written by a third party for a fee and represented by a student as his or her own work. This form of plagiarism is understood by the University to be intentional.

Purloining – In this form of plagiarism, a student takes without the consent or knowledge the work of another student and submitted it as his or her own. This form of plagiarism is understood by the university to be intentional.

In addition to the above, Plagiarism.org cite the following as forms of plagiarism: Sources Cited (But Still Plagiarised)

  • "The Forgotten Footnote"
 - The writer mentions an author's name for a source, but neglects to include specific information on the location of the material referenced. This often masks other forms of plagiarism by obscuring source locations.
  • "The Misinformer"
 - The writer provides inaccurate information regarding the sources, making it impossible to find them.
  • "The Too-Perfect Paraphrase"
 - The writer properly cites a source, but neglects to put in quotation marks, text that has been copied word-for-word, or close to it. Although attributing the basic ideas to the source, the writer is falsely claiming original presentation and interpretation of the information.
  • "The Resourceful Citer"
 - The writer properly cites all sources, paraphrasing and using quotations appropriately. The catch? The paper contains almost no original work! It is sometimes difficult to spot this form of plagiarism because it looks like any other well-researched document.
  • "The Perfect Crime"
 - Well, we all know it doesn't exist. In this case, the writer properly quotes and cites sources in some places, but goes on to paraphrase other arguments from those sources without citation. This way, the writer tries to pass off the paraphrased material as his or her own analysis of the cited material.

(Sourced from: http://www.plagiarism.org/plag_article_types_of_plagiarism.html

Why plagiarism happens

There are many reasons why you might consider plagiarising something. Factors that may lead you to consider plagiarising in your work could include:

  • Poor time management - over committed with work or social activities
  • English Comprehension difficulties - low English language test (IELTS or TOEFL) score
  • Cultural differences - referencing sources was not required in previous educational institutions
  • A belief in not getting caught.

It is important to understand that none of these is an acceptable justification for an act of plagiarism. If you are experiencing difficulty with your studies, then you should seek assistance from your tutors, lecturers, and / or the dedicated and helpful staff at the Student Learning Centre.

Generally, most plagiarism is unintended. A significant portion of plagiarism results from poor study habits or from a combination of:

  • Carelessness
  • Submitting first drafts
  • Mistakes with citations
  • Information that has been copied but not cited and referenced
  • Inappropriate and poor paraphrasing
  • Reference list incorrectly formatted or not attached
  • Inadequate English language skills and understanding

Linking quotes, cutting and pasting from websites or other publications without citing the source is also a commonly encountered problem in students’ work. Reasons for this occurring are also varied and complex; however, for many students it is more than just poor study skills, poor planning, and poor drafting. English language skills are also cited by many students as a contributing factor leading to them plagiarising. Students often report that they linked quotes and/or cut and pasted because they didn’t fully understand the concepts or the language.

It is important to understand that it is perfectly acceptable to directly quote from any document. However, it is not acceptable to simply ‘cut and past’ irrespective of the reason. It is also your responsibility to develop your academic English language. Help is available from the staff of the Student Learning Centre. Attend a workshop to learn how to avoid these types of problems.

References:
Carroll, J. (2002). A handbook for deterring plagiarism in higher education. Oxford, UK: Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development.
Greetham. B. (2001). How to write better essays. New York: Palgrave Study Guides
Harris, R. A. (2002). The plagiarism handbook: Strategies for preventing, detecting, and dealing with plagiarism. Los Angeles: Pyrczak Publishing.

top