Plagiarism & Academic Integrity

Get support

There are a number of people and sources across campus you can get in touch with to hone your referencing skills or to clarify any policy with. Your module leader or personal development tutor is a great place to start. You can also contact studyskills@marjon.ac.uk with any referencing or plagiarism queries. 

Academic Integrity

What do we mean by academic integrity?

integrity, n. \in-ˈte-grə-tē\

  1. “the quality of being honest and fair”

This definition lends itself well to the concept of academic integrity, as it means being honest and fair in all your academic work and conduct. However, you shouldn’t just do something because you are told to or you fear the consequences. Academic integrity should underpin your conduct as a student, guide you as you navigate your course, prepare you for life past university, and allow you achieve with integrity.

(Extract adapted from The University of Auckland, 2019)


The principles of academic integrity

According to the International Center for Academic Integrity (2012) the following values are associated with academic integrity:

  • Honesty – Being truthful, open and honest to advance knowledge and learning environments
  • Respect – Valuing the diversity in ideas, thoughts and opinions and facilitating cooperative learning 
  • Trust – Mutual trust that encourages the free exchange of ideas to enhance academic inquiry 
  • Fairness – Clear and fair expectations, guidelines and regulations that are followed and support fairness of interactions 
  • Responsibility – Upholding personal accountability for actions, following guidelines and leading by example
  • Courage – The courage to translate these values into action, and standing up and speaking out in the face of adversity

What is plagiarism?

There are several forms of academic misconduct, including plagiarism: 

Plagiarism – Plagiarism is a form of academic dishonesty, whereby an individual claims ownership of another person’s work, ideas, words or intellectual property. Plagiarism can be intentional (deliberately claiming another’s work to be your own), or unintentional, through poor or no use of referencing in academic work. In higher education sources must be properly acknowledged and the content accompanied by a critical commentary. This includes visual information, inventions, ideas and words, passed off as your own. It also includes failure to provide citations for paraphrases. 

Self-plagiarism – Self-plagiarism is when an individual submits work or part of work that has been previously submitted in fulfillment of another assessment. But, where’s the harm in this? Each piece of work you submit at University must be original and adhere to the requisite module guidance. Therefore, each piece of work you submit must be original and specific to the given assignment brief. 

Third party ‘authors’ – This refers to work that has been authored in part or in totality by someone other than yourself, for example, an assignment that has been authored by an essay-writing company. This includes sharing work with another student, even if it isn’t for financial gain. This is also known as ‘ghosting’ or ‘contract cheating’. 

Making false claims – Fabricating or falsifying figures, results, numbers or data, or manipulation of data in order to obtain an unfair academic advantage. This also applies when a person claims to have undertaken work, for example, a research project, but has not.

Unauthorised collusion – Students working together to produce one piece of work, unless explicitly stated as a group project by the module leader. Make sure you are crystal clear with your lecturers on this type of work, as a group project might require an individual report.

Cheating – Bringing unauthorised material into an exam setting, especially materials that would enable access to information relating to the exam. This also includes failure to observe exam regulations and accessing information during any authorised breaks.

Impersonation – When a student allows another person to fraudulently take their place in their exam. 

Unethical conduct – Failure to gain ethical approval for a research project, engaging in bribery or coercion with participants, failing to obtain participant consent, failing to maintain confidentiality principles or other breaches of ethical guidelines.

 

Why do students plagiarise?

A lot of research has been conducted into the reasons behind student plagiarism and academic misconduct. There are several reasons why: 

Consequences of plagiarism 

  • Occupational incompetence – Those who engage in academic misconduct might find themselves in a job one day where the skills and knowledge of the discipline needs to be applied to a situation. If they haven’t undertaken the work in the first place, they won’t have the knowledge to apply to the task. 
  • Corrupted morals – Cheating academically leads to cheating in life, and what’s more, it can lead to individual’s justifying their dishonest behaviour so that it leads to an outlook that is only focused on results; not processes or progress. 
  • Academic advancement – Universities, including Marjon, have rigid guidelines to deal with academic misconduct. It is likely that this behaviour will result in zero scores and academic misconduct procedures. Academic records can be requested for applicants, so future positions at other academic institutions might be jeopardised. 
  • Personal trust – Trust forms the foundation of any relationship, and as plagiarism is a form of cheating, this might affect other aspects of life, for example relationships with others. 
  • The innocent – Witnessing continued successful academic misconduct can cause those who act with academic integrity to become jaded. They might question why they continue to put in so much effort, when others are able to behave unethically and not get caught. 
  • Reputation – Both personal and professional may become irreparably tarnished. 

(Taken from Cascio, 2019)

How do I avoid plagiarism?

Adopt good academic writing practice

Referencing

  • Giving credit for another person’s idea, opinion, or theory; any facts, statistics, graphs, drawings; things that are not common knowledge when used in the context of your own work, through an in-text citation and a reference list entry 

See more: Marjon APA Guides

Quoting

  • Repeat or copy out words from an original source exactly as they appear
  • Using quotation marks (or indenting lengthy quotations in your text) to distinguish between the actual words of the writer and your own words. You would cite all sources and present full details of these in your list of references. 
  • Use direct quotes sparingly, and only in instances when you need to use the exact wording. 

Paraphrasing

  • The expression of a meaning using different words especially to achieve greater clarity. 
  • Including a citation to signal to your reader that the idea or thoughts underpinning the words are not your own 
  • Using this technique for the majority of evidence you use in your academic assignments

See more: Quoting, Paraphrasing & Summarising 

 


Manage your time 

Giving yourself plenty of time to prepare and complete your assignments can be a helpful tool in avoiding plagiarism. You can make use of planning methods and time management techniques to ensure that all of your sources are recorded and easy to find. 

See more: Time Management


Study with your peers

A good way of staying motivated and keeping on track is studying with others on your course. You might find that being around others in the same position as you motivates you to work harder. 

See more: Group study


Mendeley

Mendeley is a reference management system, that is free to download. It can be used to track sources, include in-text citations in your academic work, and automate reference lists for you. The University’s AIM scheme runs sessions on setting up and using Mendeley. 

See more: Mendeley

Plagiarism FAQs

Here are some of the frequently asked questions about plagiarism. If you have a query which is not answered here, please contact studyskills@marjon.ac.uk . Please note that these FAQs will be updated when new queries are received. 

Q. Do I need to cite something if I have taken it from another essay I wrote?

Absolutely. If you don’t, this is self-plagiarism. You should consult your module leader on what to do when you have previous work that you would like to cite, as this might not be permitted in your discipline. 

Q. What if I cite something incorrectly? Is this still regarded as plagiarism?

It can be. If you copy exact language from a source (usually more than three words) and fail to use quotation marks, this IS plagiarism, even if you add the citation. If you use someone else’s ideas throughout your paper, and you simply list that person as a source at the end of your paper, this IS plagiarism. However, if you only list the line numbers for a Shakespeare quotation, and not the act and the scene, that is sloppy, but it isn’t plagiarism.

Q. Can I use a dictionary definition without referencing it?

No, you must include a citation. Find out how to cite a dictionary definition in APA here

Q. What if I can’t find the author for the work I’m using?

You need to indicate in your in-text citation and reference list entry that no author information is available. Failure to do so means that your referencing is inaccurate and could be classed as plagiarism. You can find out how to do this in the APA FAQs

Q. Do I have to reference something that is common knowledge?

Typically, you don’t have to reference something that is common knowledge. However, you do have to determine whether something is common knowledge for your particular audience. To do this, ask yourself:

  1. Who is my audience?
  2. What can I assume they already know?
  3. Will I be asked about where I obtained my information? 

(Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2019)

If you have any doubts about your use of something as ‘common knowledge’ then act with caution and include the citation. 

See more: Shared Language

Q. Can I use external agencies to correct my work?

No, as this is ‘ghosting’ or ‘contract cheating’. Any amendments to your own work should be made by you, and you alone. Often, external agencies masquerade as ‘proofreading services’ but are actually offering writing and editing services. If you take these up, then the work is no longer your own. However, making use of suggestions in a Study Skills session, or advice from Studiosity is reliant on your decision to take advice and suggestions on board, and apply them to your own work. 

Q. Should I study alone to avoid plagiarism?

Absolutely not, especially if you enjoy studying with others and find it productive! Studying with others can be motivating, it encourages the sharing of resources and ideas and is a natural precursor to collective research. However, you will need to be careful that sharing doesn’t become accidental collusion or cheating. For example, if you and your friend are on the same course and you read each other’s first draft, when you continue to write, there is a chance that you might accidentally use wording or arguments from one another’s work. If you want peer feedback, then try having someone from a different course read your work, or, submit your work to Studiosity for quick feedback. 

Q. I can use as much material from a text, as long as I cite it, right?

No. This is because it depends how much content you take from the cited source. For example if you quote whole paragraphs and/or a substantial sections of a source text you are negating the extent to which you can receive marks from demonstrating your own critical thinking. If you haven’t provided any other author to contrast the idea or advanced any individual analysis or comment, this still constitutes an example of plagiarism. In other words, ensuring that your work is critically balanced will allow you to avoid plagiarism too. 

Useful sources on avoiding plagiarism

Marjon Documents

Student Regulation Framework – 14. Academic misconduct 

Marjon Guidance on APA < < this is the guidance you should follow!

Online 

UEfAP – Academic Writing – Avoiding Plagiarism 

University of East Anglia – Referencing and Plagiarism Awareness

Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Academic Integrity – Includes an excellent guide to writing to avoid plagiarism 

Turnitin – really good resources explaining a number of plagiarism avoidance techniques

Plagiarism.org –  really useful blog answering a number of student queries

APA Blog how to cite absolutely anything in the APA style

Enago Academy – perspective of researchers on avoiding plagiarism

Grammarly Blog – interesting look at some of the forms of plagiarism

Resources for Teaching Academic Integrity/Avoiding Plagiarism 

Marjon Study Skills slides on Avoiding Plagiarism (approx. 45 minutes)

Is it Plagiarism? – Online quiz of scenarios, created by Marjon Study Skills to facilitate discussion around academic integrity, misconduct and avoiding plagiarism. Students can identify: Is this academic misconduct? What about it is wrong? How could they have avoided misconduct? (Click here for teaching notes to facilitate discussion.)