What is plagiarism

As a student you need to understand plagiarism, recognise when it happens in your own written work and know how to acknowledge the work of others correctly.

If you use another person’s work or words without full acknowledgement, you are plagiarising.

Why does plagiarism matter?

Plagiarism should not be considered a minor form of cheating, or just academic good manners, as it is a breach of academic integrity. It is fundamental for intellectual honesty that all members of the academic community do acknowledge their debt to the originators of the ideas, words, and data that form the basis for their own work.

Using another’s work as your own is not only bad practice, it also means that you have failed to complete the learning process. Intentional plagiarism is unethical and can have serious consequences for your future career. It also undermines the standards of your university and its degrees.

The University has policies and procedures to deal with allegations of different types of academic misconduct by students. Plagiarism is one type of academic misconduct.

What forms does plagiarism take?

  • Quoting word for word from another’s work without clear acknowledgement.
  • Paraphrasing the work of others by altering a few words, changing their order or closely following their structure without acknowledgement.
  • Cutting and pasting directly from the Internet.
  • Failing to acknowledge the sources you use to produce your work.
  • Inaccurate referencing/citation of another’s work.
  • Unauthorised collaborating and colluding with other students.
  • Using a professional agency in the production of your work.

How do I avoid plagiarising when I don’t really understand it?

Correct acknowledgement or referencing skills form a part of the academic writing skills that your lecturers and tutors will help you to develop. There are different standards and conventions to acknowledge or reference the work of others. Your lecturers will explain the standards that are appropriate for your area of study.

JCU lecturers use a variety of tools to detect if students have copied work from elsewhere. Plagiarism detector software SafeAssign is one example. Your lecturers may let you use SafeAssign to check your draft assignments. The software produces a report that flags any suspicious sections, so it is a good tool to minimize the chance of accidental plagiarism

If you would like more assistance about referencing, you can contact a Learning Adviser in The Learning Centre in the Cairns and Townsville libraries, or work through online tutorials about academic writing to help you to master these skills. Another great resource is the JCU Library interactive guide, InfoSkills Toolkit.

Ultimately, when you can demonstrate in your assignments that you understand plagiarism and can correctly acknowledge the work of others, you are sure to enjoy better marks.

More information

If you are unsure about how to acknowledge the work of others in your assignment, ask your lecturer for advice first. Also see: