Plagiarism & related forms of cheating
What is plagiarism? The Oxford English Dictionary defines plagiarism as "the action or practice of taking someone else's work, idea, etc., and passing it off as one's own; literary theft".
Avoiding plagiarism when submitting assignments
The College treats plagiarism as a serious academic offence. This section offers guidance and advice on avoiding plagiarism when submitting assessments and being examined.
Allegations of plagiarism & penalties
In order to avoid plagiarism, students should be careful when preparing their work that all source material is correctly referenced. You can include quotes and ideas from others, as long as they are correctly attributed to the original source by referencing. Direct quotation should be indicated by the use of quotation marks; if not, even with an accompanying reference, it may constitute passing off someone else’s work as your own.
Incorrect or missing references can be construed as plagiarism, even if unintentional. Credit can only be given once for a particular piece of assessed work. Submitting the same piece of work (or a significant part thereof) twice for assessment will be regarded as cheating. This practice is known as 'self plagiarism'.
Unacknowledged collaboration or use of material prepared by several persons working together may result in a charge of plagiarism or in a charge of collusion.
Plagiarism detection (Turnitin)
All allegations of plagiarism will be investigated and may result in action being taken under the College’s Misconduct Regulations. A substantiated charge of plagiarism will result in a penalty being imposed: this may range from a mark of zero for the assessed work to expulsion from the College.
Turnitin is a plagiarism detection and avoidance tool. When used in the correct way it can help you avoid plagiarism. It also assists tutors in identifying work that has been plagiarised.
Turnitin creates a plagiarism report when work is submitted, giving you and markers an overall percentage (your Originality Score), and also a detailed report showing where it has identified matches between your submission and a variety of sources.
It is important to remember:
- Your plagiarism score will never be 0% and you should not aim for this. There will always be coincidental matches between your work and other submissions, and also 'false' readings on quotations, footnotes etc. Scores approaching 20% are common, but higher scores should indicate a need to check through your work. The scores you receive may depend partly on the settings used by the department for the assignment.
- There is not a set percentage above which your work is considered 'plagiarised'. Turnitin is an additional tool used by tutors to help them identify cases of plagiarism, and will always be used in conjunction with their own knowledge and experience.
- Use the material provided by the College to help you follow good academic practice.
- The library's webpages contain further information on Turnitin and on citing references. There is also a section which you can use to practice submitting a Turnitin assignment.
For further information please see the following pages on the Policy Zone website: Misconduct Regulations and the College's Guidelines on Academic Honesty & Integrity (pdf).
Library Services has developed a self-enrol module on KEATS where you can develop your referencing skills, take self-test quizzes and practice submitting a Turnitin assignment. We recommend that you should work your way through the Practice Turnitin Assignment Learning Modules covering the issue of plagiarism, how you can avoid it and the importance of citing references correctly in academic work.
The Faculty handbook contains information on the referencing systems used in each department and links to specific department guidelines.
If you would like to seek further help and support on referencing and academic writing please see the Library Services website.