What is plagiarism?
Put simply, plagiarism is stealing work or ideas and passing them off as your own. Plagiarism comes in several forms and types: there is intentional and unintentional plagiarism, self-plagiarism and collusion. Ultimately, they are all wrong and considered unlawful at University level and will lead to severe consequences irrespective of whether or not you planned to plagiarise. Submitting the an assignment twice is considered as cheating and is called “self-plagiarism”, and collaborating with a peer and then submitting an assignment as if it was your own is called “collusion”.
What are the consequences of plagiarism?
As it is unlawful, action will be taken. Every institution will have a policy and guidelines on how plagiarism is dealt with, and often the actual consequences depend on individual cases. Is it a first offence? Is it a minor or major case of plagiarism? Is it collusion? Depending on the individual case the consequences may be a warning, being excluded from a module, being removed from a course, being expelled from a University or even being banned from practicing in your profession, for example within medicine or law. Universities and academia do not consider plagiarism a trivial offence and so you should not either.
How can you avoid plagiarism?
The short and simple answer to this is: “give credit where credit is due”. If you are using ideas and thoughts then attribute them to the authors accordingly. If you are quoting from a publication directly, ensure that you use quotation marks and commonly used citation. When you are presenting ensure your audience knows who made the slides or whose photos you are using. Make sure you acquaint yourself with relevant referencing and bibliography standards and adhere to them as strictly as possible.
How is plagiarism detected?
Academics have got a very good feel for students’ works and can often detect plagiarism as and when it happens. However, nowadays many if not all assignments are submitted via online platforms that are connected to software that detects similarities. These similarity reports get sent to tutors and module leaders and any assignments with high levels of similarity will be investigated more closely. Using a wide range of sources to copy from, does not mean that plagiarism remains undetected. No matter how intricate a student’s intentional plagiarism is, the software really is better.