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Plagiarism

Plagiarism

The University defines plagiarism as ‘reproducing one’s own work or the work of another person or persons without proper acknowledgement’ (Regulation 11 - see below for links to this and other sources).

Note that this definition includes self-plagiarism. You may not reproduce work that you have already presented for a summative piece or dissertation in another piece of work; formative work, as long as it is your own, does not fall under this category.

This definition applies to all assessed work, including but not limited to essay plans, essays, exams, podcasts, blogs and other digital formats.

The reproduction of work includes the following:

  • copying, ie. repeating phrases or sentences word-for-word
  • modifying, ie. closely paraphrasing another's work by simply changing a few words or altering the order of presentation
  • borrowing, ie. presenting another person’s ideas or concepts as your own, even if you do so in your own words

Improper acknowledgement includes the failure to:

  • put quote-marks around text that has been quoted verbatim from another source, even if you have cited the source in a footnote or in the bibliography
  • cite the source of quoted text, even if you have put the text in quote-marks
  • cite the source of text that you have closely paraphrased from another source
  • cite the source of ideas or concepts that you have borrowed from another source

Examples of proper and improper acknowledgement in History essays can be found here:

Examples to avoid plagiarism

Cheating vs Poor Academic Practice

The University distinguishes between two kinds of plagiarism, cheating and poor academic practice. The difference between the two lies in the intent of the plagiariser:

A distinction should be made between poor academic practice and cheating. Poor academic practice typically (but not exclusively) occurs when the referencing is inadequate, but not in a way which suggests an attempt to deceive the marker. For example, a reference is given to identify the source of a passage; the passage is in fact directly quoted but no quotation marks are used (Guidelines, paragraph 8.1)

In other words, plagiarism counts as cheating when it is ‘an attempt to benefit oneself or another, by deceit or fraud’ (Regulation 11).

Note however that ignorance of the rules is not an excuse for plagiarism. If you are accused of cheating, ‘it is not a good enough defence to say that you have not seen the regulation or that you did not understand that what you were doing constituted plagiarism’ (PlagiarWISe module on Moodle, by the Warwick Library).

Note also that the example given in the quote above – another person’s words are used with a reference but without quote-marks – is an illustration only. A History essay that contains a considerable number of such passages may well be an example of cheating.

Penalties for cheating depend on the severity of the offence and can include the following:

  • reduced or zero mark for the piece of work in which the plagiarism occurred
  • re-submission of the work, for a reduced or capped mark
  • a zero mark for the module in which the work was submitted
  • revocation of an academic award or honour to which the work contributed

In the History Department, the great majority of cases of cheating are dealt with in one of the first two ways.

The penalty for poor academic practice is normally that the piece of work in question receives lower marks in line with the marking and classification criteria. There is no fixed number of marks that are deducted for poor academic practice; these marks are simply not earned under the marking criteria.

Procedure in case of suspected plagiarism

Cases of suspected plagiarism are identified by markers in the first instance, usually with the help of the Turnitin software (see below). The marker may judge that a piece of work counts as poor academic practice, in which case they will mark the work as usual, taking the poor practice into account in their mark and/or feedback. The marker may instead judge that the case is more serious, in which case they will refer the case to the Academic Conduct Panel, which is made up of staff from the department. The Panel looks closely at the case and decides whether it is mild, serious, or whether there is no case to answer. Serious cases are then referred to the Deputy Head of Department (or a staff member standing in for the Deputy Head), who reaches a final decision after discussion with the student.

See here for a flow-chart showing the details of this procedure.

Turnitin software

The History department uses third-party software called 'Turnitin' to detect plagiarism in student essays. All summative essays submitted on Tabula are run through this software. The software compares each essay to a database of other essays submitted at Warwick and at other universities in the UK and around the world. It also compares the essay to a range of other sources, from scholarly articles to blog posts. Essays that receive a high score on Turnitin are then scrutinised by the marker to check whether plagiarism has indeed taken place. Markers can also identity cases of plagiarism in essays that receive a relatively low Turnitin score. In sum, Turnitin is a tool that markers use in conjunction with their own judgment.

Other Forms of Cheating

Cheating can take other forms aside from plagiarism:

  • Contract Cheating. You may not purchase or ask another person to complete assessed work or sit an exam in your place. Always acknowledge any third party assistance (beyond that of your tutor), for example with proof reading or providing references. If you are unclear whether any third party assistance is acceptable please discuss with your academic or personal tutor in advance of submitting the piece of work.
  • Collusion. If you allow another student to copy some or all of your work, even if you consider this is helping them, you may be considered to have cheated alongside the student who copied the work. Whilst the Department encourages students to work together and read each other’s work, all work submitted should be the student’s own.
  • Deliberate attempts to mask plagiarism. The Department may ask for work to be presented in other formats if it suspects students are deliberately trying to mask one of the forms of plagiarism identified above.

Further Reading

All students taking History modules are strongly encouraged to read the plagiarism examples mentioned above, as well as the pages on Presentation and Referencing:

Examples to avoid plagiarism

Presentation and Referencing

Students in History will also receive information about plagiarism in workshops and/or lectures in their first year. The University has a range of other resources relating to plagiarism and cheating that are listed below.

The Warwick Library has created a Moodle module called PlagiarWISe that explains what plagiarism is, what the consequences are, and how students can avoid it.

PlagiarWISe Moodle

The University’s regulations on plagiarism and cheating are contained in University Regulation 11B, Procedure to be Adopted in the Event of Suspected Cheating:

University Regulation 11B

The University’s Guidelines and Procedure for Suspected Cheating in a University Test give a more detailed account of what constitutes plagiarism and cheating, and of the procedure to be followed in the case of suspected plagiarism, as well as information for students on formative assignments and the use of source-matching software (Turnitin):

Guidelines for Suspected Cheating Procedure for Suspected Cheating

The University has a Proofreading Policy that sets out what the University considers to be appropriate in regards to proofreading and what checks should be in place when proofreading is undertaken.

Proofreading Policy