Have a read through the following scenarios. What do you think? Do you agree with Jessica, Nathan and Krupa that what they're doing is OK?
Jessica found a useful quote for her essay from a book that she read last week, but she forgot to write down the title or author. However, she’s put it in “quotation marks” in her essay, so she thinks it’s OK to use it.
Nathan has been chatting to a friend who recently graduated from a similar course at another university. Nathan said that he was struggling with an essay that is due soon. His friend did an essay on the same topic and he’s emailed it to Nathan, inviting him to copy bits of his. Nathan thinks this is OK because his friend who wrote the essay has given him permission to do this.
Krupa is looking for a definition of “predictive modelling” for her Business essay. She finds a great one on Wikipedia, which she copies and pastes directly, word-for-word, into her essay introduction – she thinks that because it’s freely available online, she can just use it and doesn’t need to state where it came from.
If you're thinking that none of this sounds right, then you're correct.
Jessica may have used quotation marks, but she hasn't given any indication of where she found this quote, and who the words belong to. It's therefore not clear that these words are not Jessica's own.
Nathan's friend may be happy for him to copy bits of his essay, but if Nathan does this then he is passing off someone else's work as being his own.
And Krupa is also passing off someone else's words as being her own. It doesn't matter where the definition came from - if she didn't write it herself then she needs to make this clear (she also probably shouldn't be using Wikipedia for this - see the "Can you use this in your coursework" section for more information on using different types of resources in your assignment).
All three of these scenarios are examples of plagiarism.
What is plagiarism?
The University takes academic misconduct, including plagiarism, very seriously. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are not committing plagiarism in your assignments.
How do I avoid committing plagiarism?
The good news is that it's very easy to avoid committing plagiarism!
The first thing to do is to ensure that you take good, careful notes as you read.
Where did you find this?
Is it your words or someone else's?
You'll also save yourself time too if you write everything down when you find it, rather than having to go back over your reading to chase up details later. You might think that you'll remember where you found things, but the reality is that a week or two later, you won't!
It's also very important to be referencing correctly. Referencing is a system by which you attribute the ideas that you use in your work, both in the text, and in a reference list at the end of your assignment. The referencing guide explains more about what referencing is, how to do it, and the different schemes which exist.