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Plagiarism means taking someone else’s work and passing it off as your own.

It is easy to copy and paste information into assignments, and when you are under pressure and facing intensive deadlines it can be very tempting to do so. However, such methods are intrinsically dishonest, and as such the penalties for plagiarism at the University are severe.

You must also be careful to avoid plagiarizing unintentionally. This can happen if you are unaware of the rules for academic writing. Three basic skills essential for avoiding plagiarism are:

  • Quotation, paraphrasing, and summarizing: If you use the words of someone else directly, you must indicate this through proper use of quotation. Directly quoted text should be used sparingly. It is almost always better to paraphrase (i.e. put into your own words) the ideas of others. Apart from being more interesting to read, properly paraphrased ideas show your reader that you have mastered the material. Another important skill is the ability to summarize lengthy texts into a few sentences. Again, such summaries should be in your own words.
  • Citing sources: When quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing, you need to consistently follow the rules of a particular citation style. There are many different styles, so check with your teacher if you are not sure which style to use for a particular assignment.
  • Note taking: It is vital to be systematic and through when conducting research. Your notes need to clearly indicate from where you have found ideas, so that you can properly cite them when writing up your assignment. Software like Mendeley can help keep you organized.

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Last updated: 21 April 2020