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Study Skills

Wolfson College Academic Skills: Plagiarism

Help with finding, managing and using information from the Wolfson Library Team.

Plagiarism is using ideas or the work of another person and presenting it as your own work. This guide provides some information to help you find out more about what it is and how to avoid it. However, definitive guidance will come from your department and the University. Always check this if you are in any doubt about what constitutes plagiarism.

Top tips

  1. Plagiarism is using ideas or the work of another person and presenting it as your own work. It can take a number of forms:
    • Copying - cutting and pasting work
    • Colluding - where two or more people work together to produce a piece of work but where all or part of the work is submitted as their own work
  2. It applies to all types of sources and media: text, illustrations, photographs, musical quotations, mathematical derivations, computer code, material downloaded from websites, drawn from manuscripts, published and unpublished material including lecture handouts and other students' work.
  3. To help you distinguish between your thoughts and that of another, it is important to keep clear notes that easily define your contribution versus the words of the author.

  4. Find out how correctly give credit to authors by finding your department on the Cambridge Libraries Reference Management Guide. This takes you to discipline-specific information about references. The are other great tools such as Cite Them Right and Zoterobib to help you automatically generate a citation in your departmental style.
  5. Even if you give details of your sources, you must remember to construct your argument from your own words and only use sources to support that. You need to demonstrate that you have understood the existing scholarship rather stringing together their words for the majority of your text. The aim of an essay is to provide evidence of critical evaluation and independent thought, rather than reporting on the views of others.

These two short presentations give an overview of what plagiarism is and how to avoid it. The second video focuses on referencing as one way to ensure that you give appropriate credit to authors that you have used to inform and develop your argument.

How to

Try it out

Reading the information above, do you think the following statements are TRUE or FALSE. Click on the statement to reveal the answer

FALSE. Mixing a few words of an article with your own is often throught of as paraphrasing, but this is not the way to paraphrase in your work. Look at the paraphrasing section for more information on how to paraphrase well.

FALSE. If you are submitting the work as your own, you should be the only person writing it. If you are submitting group with more than one contributor, make sure all the contributions are acknolwedged

FALSE. Information and content that is not your own work needs to be referenced regardless of where it is located. Referencing acknowledges another persons' work and is good academic practice. See our section on referencing for more information.

TRUE. All information, including statistics, images, diagrams and tables where the work is not your own need to be referenced. Look at the referencing section for more information.

FALSE. Information and content that is not your own work needs to be referenced regardless of whether it is published or not. This includes your own work as well. Referencing acknowledges the original work and is good academic practice. See our section on referencing for more information.

 

This quiz is taken from Cambridge University Libraries LibGuide on Good Academic Practice and Plagiarism

Find out more

Find out how correctly give credit to authors by reading our Referencing tab.

There are some examples of the subtleties of plagiarism on Bowdoin College's plagiarism web pages.

Northern Illinois University also provides from textual examples of the different types of plagiarism.

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Unless otherwise stated, this work is licenced under a CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 licence by Wolfson College Cambridge.

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