The reasons plagiarism happens: The reasons plagiarism happens:

  • Deliberate cheating for a variety of reasons 
  • Poor time management – running out of time to do assignments properly
  • Poor note-taking practice – forgetting to record where you found information 
  • Not understanding how and when to use references 
  • Not understanding how to present paraphrase and direct quotation clearly 
  • Not feeling confident in your academic writing style 
  • Not knowing how to read critically and include your own ‘voice' 
  • Not understanding the difference between searching and researching 
  • Not knowing what constitutes ‘common knowledge' or other people's work 
  • Lack of attention to detail when referencing or checking your work

The things you need to avoid: The things you need to avoid:

  • Copying work in whole or in part from another student whether in your year or at your university or not 
  • Reproducing without acknowledgement, your own previously submitted work (this is regarded as self-plagiarism)
  • Downloading or buying essays from the internet 
  • Patchwork writing - cutting and pasting different sources together 
  • Plagiphrasing' – poor paraphrase, when not enough of the original is changed for it to be truly your own words 
  • Hidden quotation – not making it clear with quotation marks when you are using the exact words of the original 
  • Bad note-taking, which does not distinguish what you have summarised and what you have copied exactly from sources, and not noting the details of the source including page number 
  • Non attribution - not referencing the ideas or research of others if you paraphrase a source
  • Incomplete referencing or mixed referencing systems 
  • Inventing references 
  • Borrowing' well-expressed sentences due to feeling you can't express them as well in your own words, without quotation marks or a reference

Although not plagiarism, you should also avoid: Although not plagiarism, you should also avoid:

  • Frequently and needlessly using direct quotation when a paraphrase would be better 
  • Not including your own original ‘voice', ideas, critical comment on your sources 
  • Quotation and paraphrase ‘collages' correctly referenced and indicated, but with little original input from you

The skills you need: The skills you need:

  • How to use a referencing system correctly (how) 
  • How to use a referencing system appropriately (when) 
  • How to paraphrase 
  • How to select, integrate and use quotation productively 
  • How to use other peoples' work to inform and strengthen your own argument 
  • How to synthesise and comment critically on a body of scholarship 
  • How to manage your time 
  • How to take notes accurately and clearly 
  • How to write well in an appropriate academic style 
  • How to research effectively, to check that your ideas have not been published before by someone else 
  • How to check your work carefully

When to use a reference: When to use a reference:

Generally, any time you use someone else's work in your writing (whether that be the exact words, or the ideas, data, theories, findings or research that resulted from someone else's work). This includes:

  • When quoting directly (i.e. using the exact words) from another source 
  • When reporting in your own words an idea, theory, research or findings from another source (paraphrase) 
  • All material taken from all sources, published or unpublished, written or pictorial, printed or online etc. 
  • When you include a table, diagram or image taken from another source 
  • When you re-work data taken from another source into a diagram etc. 
  • To give authority, justification or evidence to a statement which might be contentious 
  • To show the breadth of your reading, and how well informed your opinions are

When to use a direct quotation: When to use a direct quotation:

Quotations are used sparingly in good writing, and only when there is good reason to reproduce the exact wording of the original. Quotations should not stand alone in your text; rather you should do something with them, such as comment on, analyse, explain their significance or why you have included them, etc. Reasons for using quotation include:

  • To demonstrate a writer's unique term, for example, a characteristic or new terminology or definition, where paraphrase would lose the exact meaning 
  • To give the exact source so that a reader can check your interpretation of it easily 
  • To provide an example you want to discuss or analyse in more detail 
  • To give added emphasis to a point made in another source

When to use paraphrase: When to use paraphrase:

  • When you could communicate ideas more succinctly in your own words 
  • When the exact wording is not crucial to your analysis of a source 
  • When you want to summarise several authors (agreeing or disagreeing) on a single issue 
  • To show you have understood the source to a high level 
  • To put a badly expressed or convoluted source in a simpler, more comprehensible form 
  • To shorten a source, especially leaving out detail unnecessary to your point