Referencing and Plagiarism: What is Plagiarism?

What is Plagiarism?


The practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own.

(From The Oxford Dictionary of English)


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 students’ 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).

 Plagiarism may be:

  • Deliberate (eg. buying an essay and submitting it as your own work)
  • Accidental (eg. incorrectly referencing the work of others because of carelessness or lack of academic skills)

 The consequences for plagiarism apply even for unintentional plagiarism.

Read the VU Academic Integrity and Preventing Plagiarism Policy for more details.

Plagiarism and how to avoid it video transcript

So, you have to write a paper and your instructor has lectured you about not plagiarising.

Do you know how to do it?

Welcome to Plagiarism: How not to do it.

Plagiarism is simply using other people’s writing or ideas without giving them credit for it. It is taking the credit yourself.

If you copy the entire text from someone else, say from a website or a book, and put it in your paper as your own writing; that clearly is cheating. You didn’t write the words, someone else did. It is plagiarism of the worst kind. And if you do this, you know you’re cheating. But sometimes people plagiarise without intending to.

When you take sections of other people’s work and include it in your paper, you must let the reader know which words and ideas are yours and which ones are someone else’s. One way to do this is simply to quote your source. You put quotation marks around it, or block quote longer sections, and say where the quote came from. But you also need to cite the source of materials you use in your writing even if you are not quoting word for word. For instance, let’s say you’re writing a paper about the invasion of Normandy during World War Two.  Because you read that was somewhere 130,000 and 156,000 troops in the invasion, you write that ‘There were about 150,000 Allied troops in the landing.” While you are not quoting the source where you got this information because you are writing in your own words, you still need to tell the reader where this information came from. You did not stand there counting troops on D-Day. You got the information from a source. So tell your reader.

Depending on the style required, such as APA or MLA, you cite your source in the paragraph where you used the information. The same thing applies to ideas. If you are using someone else’s idea, like “The invasion of Normandy was one of the most important battles in American history”, you should the the reader know where you got that idea. If it is your own conclusion after reading about it and studying it, then you do not need to cite a source because the source is you. It is your idea.

Sometimes papers are a combination of other sources and your own ideas. That’s okay. Just be sure to cite your sources and you won’t be plagiarising. The only time you do not need to be citing other sources is when the information is common knowledge; like “George Washington was the first U.S. President.” You do not have to find a source for this since it is common knowledge. “Who are you calling common?” For more detailed help in avoiding plagiarism, see the links below.

(Video ends)

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