We take study and plagiarism very seriously and you need to know what you can and cannot do with regards to using previous research as part of your own study.

What is plagiarism?

Failure to acknowledge your sources of ideas, quotes or illustrations, etc is likely to lead to a suspicion of plagiarism.

Plagiarism is taking and using another person’s thoughts, ideas, arguments, writings or creations and passing them off as your own. In the case of copyright material (e.g. web content) plagiarism is illegal. Plagiarism is theft of another person’s intellectual property and in the academic environment it is taken very seriously.  All assignments and essays are checked for plagiarism and it can lead to you being failed from your course.

It is very easy to avoid being suspected of plagiarism – simply cite and reference correctly!

What are the causes of plagiarism?

  • Students who are fully aware that their actions constitute plagiarism (for example, copying published information into a paper without source attribution for the purpose of claiming the information as their own, or turning in material written by another student) are guilty of academic misconduct. Refer to academic rules for penalties.

  • Students may fear failure or fear taking risks in their own work.

  • Students may have poor time-management skills or they may plan poorly for the time and effort required for research-based writing, and believe they have no choice but to plagiarize.

  • Students may view the course, the assignment, the conventions of academic documentation, or the consequences of cheating as unimportant.

  • Students are not guilty of plagiarism when they try in good faith to acknowledge others’ work but fail to do so accurately or fully. These failures are largely the result of failures in prior teaching and learning: students lack the knowledge of and/or the ability to use the conventions of authorial attribution. The following conditions and practices may result in texts that falsely appear to represent plagiarism as it has been defined:

  • Students may not know how to integrate the ideas of others and document the sources of those ideas appropriately in their texts.

  • Students may not know how to take careful and fully documented notes during their re­search.

  • Tutors may define plagiarism differently or more stringently than have instructors or administrators in students’ earlier education or in other writing situations.

  • In some settings, using other people’s words or ideas as their own is an acceptable practice for writers of certain kinds of texts (for example, organizational documents), making the concepts of plagiarism and documentation less clear cut than academics often acknowledge and thereby confusing students who have not learned that the conventions of source attribution vary in different contexts.

How can you avoid plagiarism?

To avoid plagiarism, you must give credit whenever you use

  • another person’s idea, opinion, or theory;

  • any facts, statistics, graphs, drawings (in fact any pieces of information) that are not common knowledge;

  • quotations of another person’s actual spoken or written words; or

  • paraphrase of another person’s spoken or written words.

Strategies for avoiding plagiarism

  1. Put in quotations everything that comes directly from the text especially when taking notes.

  2. Paraphrase, but be sure you are not just rearranging or replacing a few words.

  3. Check your paraphrase against the original text to be sure you have not accidentally used the same phrases or words, and that the information is accurate.

  4. Always acknowledge facts, diagrams and original thought

Additional reading

UHI plagiarism resources