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Referencing & Plagiarism

Failure to acknowledge your source is considered Plagiarism which is an offence under the University regulations. See the University plagiarism webpage for full details. 

Plagiarism applies to words and ideas. Simply changing someone else’s words is not enough. It is still their idea – acknowledge it. Plagiarism is defined as ‘using someone else’s words or ideas without properly acknowledging them or, put another way, presenting someone else’s words as your own’ (Pears & Shields, 2005, p.1).

Ignorance is no defence. Accidental plagiarism due to poor referencing is still an offence. If you do not know where something comes from do not use it.  It is your responsibility to make sure you do not take material from a source without proper acknowledgement. When you are taking notes while reading make sure that you indicate where they come from e.g. list full details of the publication and record the page number(s) for the information you noted.

Pears, Richard & Shields, Graham (2005) Cite them right: referencing made easy. Newcastle: Northumbria University Press Trading Services.

Check out this useful infographic available on Turnitin's website

Infographic on types of plagiarism

Students may plagiarise for a number of reasons, often accidentally. Knowing the types of plagiarism can help you avoid unintentional plagiarism. Remember all types are an academic offense and it is your responsibility to make sure that you know how to use other sources correctly. 

Deliberate Plagiarism 

This is when someone knowingly tries to pass other people's work off as their own.

This could include:

  • copying and pasting
  • including other people's words/ideas without referencing 
  • submitting someone else's work (this could be another student's or by a professional essay writer)


Unintentional Plagiarism

A common form of plagiarism is unintentional or accidental.

This could include:

  • forgetting to include the citation or list the reference in your reference list/bibliography
  • incorrect references
  • copying content with minor alternations (even if this is referenced, by not summarising in your own words or using quotes marks to show this is a quote you are presenting this as your own understanding/ analysis).

Time management

One reason for plagiarism is poor time management. You need to plan your time effectively to allow time to research, plan, write and review your assignments. 

Effective Notes

Another reason for poor referencing is poor note taking skills. You need to develop a system of recording where you find information and also differentiating between direct quotes and your own summary. You can find helpful advice on Palgrave Study Skill website 

Improve your academic writing skills

If you struggle with any aspects of writing your assignments think about using the Writing Cafe (located on the 4th floor of Babbage open 1-4pm weekdays term time) or the help guides developed by Learning Development. 

Reference Management Systems

Reference Management Systems are really useful at helping you to organise and store your research - by using the cite whilst you write feature you can also ensure that all your in text citations are included in your reference list. 

TurnItIn is an originality checking software that allows matches to be made between your work and other sources including webpages, journal articles and other student essays. It is important to remember that TurnItIn does not detect plagiarism but is a tool that your lecturers can use to see if you have referenced correctly. 

 There is a help guide on using Turnitin available on the DLE including a section on how to interpret your originality report.