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How to avoid plagiarism

How to avoid plagiarism



Plagiarism is not always a matter of deliberate theft; it can happen inadvertently through misunderstanding academic conventions of referencing and attribution, or through inappropriate collaboration ...

Plagiarism is not always a matter of deliberate theft; it can happen inadvertently through misunderstanding academic conventions of referencing and attribution, or through inappropriate collaboration with other students on your course. This session is designed to explain guidelines on plagiarism, to look at some real-life case studies, and to give you information and strategies to help you avoid it.



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  • Step 1.Front page of a downloaded journal article – authorship is clearly indicated, and it even gives you a format in which to cite the article, for your bibliography.It has clear authorship because this is really the ‘currency’ of academic – how you progress/succeed/get promoted. No wonder it’s taken so seriously if you use unfair means.

How to avoid plagiarism How to avoid plagiarism Presentation Transcript

  • Cambridge University LibraryHow to avoid plagiarismDr. Emma CoonanResearch Skills Librarian, Cambridge University Library
  • What is plagiarism? How many ways can you think of to commit plagiarism?
  • Examples of plagiarism• quoting verbatim another person‟s work without due acknowledgement of the source• paraphrasing another person‟s work by changing some of the words, or the order of the words, without due acknowledgement of the source• using ideas taken from someone else without reference to the originator• cutting and pasting from the Internet to make a pastiche of online sources• submitting someone else‟s work as part of a candidate‟s own without identifying clearly who did the work• colluding with another person• autoplagiarism (University of Cambridge, 2011)
  • Varsity survey Varsity, 31 October 2008
  • What is it? “ … submitting as one‟s own work, irrespective of intent to deceive, that which derives in part or in its entirety from the work of others without due acknowledgement. ” (University of Cambridge 2011, emphasis mine)www.admin.cam.ac.uk/univ/plagiarism/students/statement.html
  • What is it? “ … passing off someone else‟s work as your own, whether intentionally or unintentionally, for your own benefit. ” (Carroll 2002, p.40)
  • The (ethical) bottom lineEnsuring that your readers can distinguish betweenyour own and others‟ thinking means that you:• Give credit for the work you have built on• Get credit for the work you have done yourself
  • Case study 1 • Student lost track of time and could not locate scholarly resources close to deadline • Searched the internet (avoiding essay banks) • Cut-and-pasted information for own reference from open web sources • Made a „patchwork‟ of paraphrased arguments from websites – didn‟t cite them
  • What caused it?1. Non-scholarly information – not well „signposted‟2. Poor citation practice
  • Solutions1. Know where to find scholarly resources for your subject2. Always have two ends to your reference!
  • Scholarly material has clear authorship
  • Double-entry citationIn-text citation Reference list entryLovitts argues that Lovitts, Barbara E. (2005)“Creative intelligence is „Being a good course-taker isthe ability to formulate not enough: a theoreticalgood problems” (2005, perspective on the transitionp.143). to independent research‟, Studies in Higher EducationA short „pointer‟ to the full 30(2), pp.137-54entry at the point in your textwhere you quote or All the details needed for a readerparaphrase to follow up your source
  • Citation stylesYour school or department will probably have a preferred orcitation style. It might even be mandatory to use a particularstyle. Do you know which one you should use? www.admin.cam.ac.uk/univ/plagiarism/students/depts.html
  • www.admin.cam.ac.uk/univ/plagiarism/students/depts.html
  • Case study 2 • Tutor noticed change of voice/phrasing mid-essay, just after a quotation • This unattributed material was taken almost directly from the same source as the quote • Student had failed to recognise the full quotation in his notes - thought it was his own work
  • What caused it?1. Bad notemaking2. Failure to understand how to paraphrase?
  • Solutions1. Practise active notemaking2. Recognise that paraphrases must be cited3. Appreciate when to paraphrase and when to quote (it’s not that obvious!)
  • Active notemakingMake sure you can identify:• Which parts of your notes are quotations (including single significant words)• Which parts are paraphrases of the author‟s points• Which parts of your own writing are a response to the argument or directly inspired by ideas in the textWill you be able to tell the difference in a month‟s time?
  • Notemaking strategy
  • Paraphrasing vs. quotationRephrasing someone else‟s argument in your own words:• shows you have read and assimilated the required reading• strengthens your argument• lets you analyse and compare contrasting points of view• allows you to maintain your „flow‟ of writing and own voice Still needs to be cited!
  • Paraphrasing vs. quotationRephrasing someone else‟s argument in your own words:• gives less weight to the original author, more to your „voice‟ Consider whether this is appropriate• How significant is this work in your argument?• Does the author deserve greater representation?)Key concepts, phrases or even words in the argument should be placed in quotation marks if you use them
  • Double-entry citationIn-text citation Reference list entry“As Whitworth (2006) Whitworth, Andrew (2006)points out, the „Communicative competenceinstructional style can in the information age:enforce a positivist towards a critical theory ofapproach which is at information literacyodds with the education‟, Italics 5(1).interrogative nature ofthe scholarly mission.”
  • Case study 3 • Two postgraduate students decided to collaborate on an essay • Used good academic practice in every other regard
  • What caused it? Students failed to understand that they were expected to work independently and that their marks would be calculated on this basis
  • Solutions • Assess whether collaboration is appropriate for the task at hand • Get authorisation (approach your supervisor in the first instance) • Acknowledge the contribution www.admin.cam.ac.uk/univ/plagiarism/students/referencing/peers.html
  • Recap• Know where to find scholarly resources for your subject• Always have two ends to your reference!• Be aware of citation styles (and be consistent)• Practice active notemaking• Recognise when to paraphrase and when to quote• Assess whether collaboration is appropriate for the task at hand• Talk to your supervisor or librarian
  • Where do you draw the line?
  • One situationwhere you don‟tneed to reference!
  • Common knowledgeYou don‟t need to cite a source if you‟re stating a fact that:• is widely accessible - you may not know the total population of China, but you would be able to find the answer easily from numerous sources• is likely to be known by a lot of people• can be found in a general reference resource, such as a dictionary or encyclopedia www.admin.cam.ac.uk/univ/plagiarism/students/ referencing/commonknowledge.html (University of Cambridge, 2011)
  • Common knowledgeStatement: Pterosaurs were the flying reptiles of thedinosaur ageCitation: „Everyone knows this, so no citation is needed.Statement: Even the largest pterosaurs may have been ableto take off simply by spreading their wings whilst facing intoa moderate breeze.Citation: Wilkinson, M.T., Unwin, D.M. and Ellington, C.P.(2005). High lift function of the pteroid bone and forewings ofpterosaurs. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B (University of Cambridge, 2011)
  • Scenarios
  • Scenario 1 “ I copied the material straight from the web because my English is not very good, and I wanted to make sure you understood what I was trying to say. ” (Carroll 2002, p.21)
  • Scenario 2 “ I forgot to write down the page numbers, so I couldn‟t use quotes – so I just put the ideas in my own words. But I‟ve put everything in the bibliography! ”
  • Scenario 3 “ I said it was in the Times, 1999. Surely that‟s enough? ” (Carroll 2002, p.51)
  • Scenario 4 “ I had a student this week who admitted the plagiarism but said he wasn‟t to blame because the person he copied from didn‟t tell him it was plagiarised … ” (Carroll 2002, p.5)
  • Where to get information and help …• School or department referencing guidelines (essential!)• University Offices: plagarism information www.admin.cam.ac.uk/univ/plagiarism• www.cusu.cam.ac.uk/academic/studyskills• Libraries and librarians http://training.cam.ac.uk/cul and departmental library sites• Academic reading and writing sessions/writing guidelines http://training.cam.ac.uk
  • Research Skills Programme
  • Emma Coonan Research Skills Librarianresearch-skills@lib.cam.ac.uk http://training.cam.ac.uk/cul
  • BibliographyBallenger, Bruce .The Curious Researcher: a Guide to WritingResearch Papers. 7th ed. Boston: Pearson, 2012.Carroll, Jude. A Handbook for Deterring Plagiarism in HigherEducation. Oxford: Oxford Centre for Staff and LearningDevelopment, 2002.Li, Xia. Electronic Style: A Guide to Citing Electronic Information.Westport: Meckler, 1993.Lipson, Charles. Doing Honest Work in College: How to PrepareCitations, Avoid Plagiarism, and Achieve Real Academic Success.2nd ed. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2008.
  • BibliographyNeville, Colin. The Complete Guide to Referencing and AvoidingPlagiarism. 3 January 2007.http://www.myilibrary.com/Browse/open.asp?ID=112960&loc=i(accessed 30 January 2009).Pears, Richard, and Graham Shields. Cite Them Right: theEssential Referencing Guide. Rev. ed. Newcastle: Pear Tree,2008.Stothard, Michael. “„1 in 2‟ Admits to Plagiarism.” Varsity 31 Oct.2008: 1-2.Turabian, Kate L. A Manual for Writers of Research Papers,Theses, and Dissertations. 7th ed. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2007.