The departmental guidelines on plagiarism outlined here are governed by the university’s regulation on cheating in a university, Regulation 11B. Students should read Regulation 11B carefully.
Plagiarism is passing off someone else’s academic or creative work as your own. This can be a matter of direct transcription, without acknowledgement, of passages, sentences and even phrases from someone else’s writing, whether published or not. But it also refers to the presentation as your own of material from a printed or other source with only a few changes in wording. There is of course a grey area where making use of secondary material comes close to copying it, but the problem can usually be avoided by acknowledging that a certain writer holds similar views, and by writing your essay without the book or transcription from it open before you. When you are using another person’s words you must put them in quotation marks and give a precise source. When you are using another person’s ideas you must give a footnote reference to the precise source.
All quotations from secondary sources must be acknowledged every time they occur. It is not enough to include the work from which they are taken in the bibliography at the end of the essay, and such inclusion will not be accepted as a defence should plagiarism be alleged. Whenever you write an essay that counts towards university examinations, you will be asked to sign an undertaking that the work it contains is your own.
Self-plagiarism involves the re-submission of academic or creative work which has previously been submitted by the student for assessment in another module and/or for credit at another institution. Auto-plagiarism involves a failure to acknowledge use of excerpts from your own, older work in new, original work. You should not use the same material in more than one piece of work nor write at length on the same text or topic in more than one essay. Where this rule is not observed, examiners will disregard the repeated material, and mark the essay or dissertation only on the basis of the new material. This may result in a fail mark for the essay or dissertation.
The University regards plagiarism as a serious offence.
A tutor who finds plagiarism in an essay will report the matter to the Head of Department. The Head may, after hearing the case, impose a penalty of a nil mark for the essay in question. The matter may go to a Senate disciplinary committee which has power to exact more severe penalties. If plagiarism is detected in one essay, other essays by the student concerned will be examined very carefully for evidence of the same offence.
In practice, some cases of plagiarism arise from poor scholarly practice. There is nothing wrong with using other people’s ideas. Indeed, citing other people’s work shows that you have researched your topic and have used their thinking to help formulate your own argument. The important thing is to know what is yours and what is not and to communicate this clearly to the reader. Good scholarly practice involves intellectual discipline and acknowledging one’s debt to other thinkers and practitioners.