What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is when the words, ideas, diagrams or data of another are passed off as your own without the original source being cited or referenced. If this is done knowingly, the University considers it as Dishonest Plagiarism and Academic Misconduct.

This definition of plagiarism applies regardless of the medium in which the original material is published. The definition includes any material copied from: hard copy publications (books, journals, theses etc.); soft copy publications (available on the internet, as email attachments, copies on disk, e-journals etc.); other digital formats (e.g. audio visual, MP3s); or live presentations (e.g. lectures, speeches). Copying unpublished material (e.g. work of other students, friends) without acknowledgement is also considered as plagiarism.

It is considered plagiarism if you have:

  • 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;
  • re-used material from old essays or assignments, even if they are your own, without acknowledging where it came from;
  • paid someone else to write the essay for you;
  • copied from another student’s work without indicating that that’s what you have done;
  • mentioned the source in your bibliography but not referenced it properly in the text of the assignment, so that the assessor cannot know which words are your own;
  • changed the order of words taken from somewhere else but retained the original idea or concept, without referencing;
  • quoted from a speech or lecture without acknowledging the speaker; or
  • quoted from a secondary source without acknowledging the primary source.

In general, plagiarism can occur when you are unable to demonstrate to your lecturers, the University or to yourself that you know and understand what you have written and submitted. The University or your faculty may suffer a loss of reputation if you plagiarise, but you will also suffer as you fail to learn from the work and experiences of others and fall behind your fellow students. It is stressful to plagiarise because you will always be afraid of being caught and because you won’t have learned anything from the assessment task. If in any doubt at all, always provide references for what you have written.

The University distinguishes between negligent and dishonest plagiarism.
Negligent plagiarism may be said to have occurred in a situation where a student has innocently, recklessly or carelessly presented another person’s work as their own without appropriate acknowledgement of the source.
Dishonest plagiarism may be said to have occurred where a student has knowingly presented another person’s work as their own without appropriate acknowledgement of the source.

It is not considered plagiarism if:

  • the ideas or words are in common usage and/or there is no other or better way to express them;
  • the assignment has been written without you reading any texts or other published or unpublished material;
  • you have made the discovery yourself through experimentation or analysis; or
  • you have synthesised the readings and ideas of others to reach your own conclusions, having acknowledged these readings in the body of your essay.