What is plagiarism?

Many students find the idea of plagiarism difficult to understand. However, it is worth taking the time to understand how to avoid it, because this will improve your work in a number of ways:

  • learning how to avoid plagiarism now will help you write better assignments in the future
  • it will help you develop your critical thinking skills and improve your general study skills
  • academic work relies on the effective use of sources and avoidance of plagiarism
  • plagiarism stops you from learning because the more you do it, the less you understand
  • the penalties for plagiarism are serious, even if you do it by accident
It's a crime!

Some types of plagiarism are obvious, some not so much. Here are some definitions to help:

  • copying work from a book, journal or internet site without referencing it (also known as copy and paste)
  • copying your friend's essay but changing a few words
  • collaborating with a friend on the write-up of a report (also known as collusion). Collusion differs to group work - some assessments will involve students working together on a particular project. Such assignments may require:
    • you to share ideas, research and have joint responsibility for the development of a project
    • you to work together and produce a joint piece of work for assessment
    • you to work together but then produce an independently written piece of work
    • Check with your lecturer so that you are sure of what is required of you!
  • submitting an essay that you wrote for another module. This can also be called self-plagiarism.
  • buying an essay and submitting it as your own work (also known as ghost writing)

Watch the individual chapters of the Life on Campus movie and think about the point each chapter is making.

As you will be teaching students and supervising post graduate theses you need to have an understanding of plagiarism from both your point of view and that of a student.

Creative Commons License
Smile: Plagiarism is adapted from by Don't Cheat Yourself, University of Leicester and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at