Plagiarism is the “wrongful appropriation” and “stealing and publication” of another author’s “language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions” and the representation of them as one’s own original work.
The paragraph above is itself an example of plagiarism because it is a sentence that has been copied and pasted directly from Wikipedia, without appearing inside quotation marks or being correctly attributed (until now). In many professional circles, but especially academia, journalism and the arts, plagiarism is considered a serious offence.
For any students reading this, the important things to remember is if you’re caught stealing other people’s work at university, the consequences can last for the rest of your life. To ensure you aren’t accused of plagiarism at university (or anywhere else), it’s important first to understand exactly what plagiarism is and then to take all possible steps to avoid it.
There are two basic kinds you need to look out for: intentional and unintentional plagiarism. Most universities will treat all forms or plagiarism seriously, and intentional (or reckless) plagiarism as a disciplinary offence.
This is, of course, the easiest kind of plagiarising to avoid. Examples of deliberate plagiarising include stealing a fellow student’s ideas, copying information from a book or off the internet or paying somebody else to write your essay for you (yes, it counts as plagiarism even if you have the author’s consent).
The simple advice is: never do it. Better to hand an essay in late, or even not at all, than to submit a piece of work that you have knowingly stolen from someone else.
Where the subject of plagiarism becomes a little more complicated is when you are building an argument for an essay or dissertation that incorporates ideas you have come across elsewhere. It is perfectly acceptable for you to do this. It is essential, however, that you acknowledge the original source and scrupulously avoid creating the impression that you have come up with the argument yourself.
One way you can do this is by quoting the text , making sure you signal it as a quote using quotation marks or indentation and fully reference the source. A slightly better approach is to paraphrase the author’s argument in your own words, while making it absolutely clear that this is what you are doing.
To make doubly sure you are not guilty of accidental plagiarism, there are also various online tools you can use that will check your text against billions of web pages and flag up any similarities.
Interested in gaining valuable work experience while you’re at university? Then why not check out our internship opportunities today.