Academic Honesty in Student Coursework

University policy on academic honesty

Academic honesty is a core value of the University of Sydney. The University is committed to the basic academic right that students receive due credit for work submitted for assessment. This requires that all work you submit for assessment represents your own research and your own writing. It is clearly unfair for students to submit work for assessment that dishonestly represents the work of others as their own. Such activity is called plagiarism and is a form of fraud.

All students must be familiar with:

The majority of work will be submitted via Turnitin (unless advised otherwise) When submitting via Turnitin you will be prompted, for EACH piece of work, to complete the Academic Honesty Declaration. This will take the form of four questions certifying that you have read the University policy on plagiarism and that the submitted work is your own. There may be instances when you will be instructed to hand in your work to your course coordinator at this time you must complete the Plagiarism Declaration Form found on this page. All students are bound by the Code of Conduct for Students. There are extremely severe penalties for plagiarism, including expulsion from the University. All cases of plagiarism must be reported to the University Registrar and remain permanently on a student’s record.


Plagiarism is broadly defined as presenting another person's ideas, findings or written work as one's own by copying or reproducing them without due acknowledgment of the source. Plagiarism includes: copying or paraphrasing the work of another student; using a published author's text or argument without giving a reference; and copying material verbatim from a text or website (whether or not you provide a reference). Plagiarism also includes co-writing an assignment with another student rather than as an individual.

The University Student Affairs website states that "it is considered plagiarism if you have:

  1. cut-and-pasted ideas, phrases, paragraphs, diagrams or images from the internet without properly referencing the source (citing where it came from) through the use of quotation marks or some other acceptable referencing technique;
  2. paid someone else to write the essay for you;
  3. copied from another student’s work without indicating that that’s what you have done;
  4. mentioned the source in the Bibliography* but not referenced it properly in the text of the assignment, so that the assessor cannot know which words are your own;
  5. changed the order of words taken from somewhere else but retained the original idea or concept, without referencing;
  6. quoted from a speech or lecture without acknowledging the speaker;
  7. copied answers from another student during an exam;
  8. cheated in other ways during an exam, for example, used concealed notes, sms messages;
  9. quoted from a secondary source without acknowledging the primary source...”

*In scientific writing you should instead use a Reference List, which contains only works cited in your document

Avoiding plagiarism

Most cases of plagiarism can be avoided by learning the correct procedures for referencing your work. The Intermediate Skills ManualAdobe pdf document gives directions on how to reference your work correctly.

The University sites below also give useful advice on how to avoid plagiarism. Please seek advice from University staff if you do not understand these procedures.

University of Sydney Student Affairs Site:

Detecting plagiarism

The Biological Sciences uses sophisticated software for detecting plagiarism in student work. These programs can be customised to:

  • Compare all submitted work in a single year
  • Compare the current year’s work to work presented in previous years
  • Identify sentences and paragraphs that are identical within two pieces of work.
  • Pick up sentences where some words have been changed to equivalent meanings
  • Compare student work to internet-sourced articles.

Our goal

The aim of all staff in the School is to provide students with the resources and skills to allow them to observe the rules of honest scholarship and to become competent and ethical scientific practitioners.