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CIPPET Study Support: How to avoid plagiarism

This guide will help you find resources, understand academic and reflective writing and help you prepare for your coursework and exams

Tips on avoiding plagiarism

Here are a few tips but if this is a matter where you are still confused or uncertain please talk to the course director or one of your module teaching staff.

When preparing an essay or dissertation, it is best to read a book or article page by page or section by section and then to write notes on it in your own words, unless you come across a particularly important passage or a phrase where the author seems to put a point in a very effective way, in which cases you may want to copy out the exact wording into your notes. You might also want to copy out sections of a primary source in case you wish to refer to it in an essay or dissertation. But make sure that you indicate to yourself, by a foolproof method that you will always remember, such as by using inverted commas or a different coloured pen, where you have copied out passages or expressions from any source. Always note the details of the source including page number where the material you have copied occurs in case you wish to cite it as a quotation in your essay or dissertation.

An essay or dissertation is expected to be in your own words entirely, save where you are using direct quotations from primary or secondary sources.

If you use material from a book or article, you must always acknowledge the source. If it is a phrase, sentence or longer passage, then it should appear as a quotation between inverted commas and there should be a footnote giving full bibliographic details. You must also reference any electronic material where you have used the Web as a source.

If you are using someone else's ideas but not their words you should employ phrases such as 'Jones argues…', again giving the source of your information.

Works quoted or cited should always appear in the bibliography, as should any other books or articles which you have used in the writing of your essay.

You should never take material from a book or article and merely change the wording a little, passing it off as your own work. Adding a reference at the end of a paragraph (particularly when this is repeated for several paragraphs) is an indication that the student has not really analysed the material fully.

Never indulge in the practice, which is sometimes tolerated at school, where you put together an essay in a kind of cut-and-paste fashion by stringing together phrases or sentences from a series of works.

Do not use lengthy quotations from other sources, and never write essays which are no more than a series of quotations strung together, even if they are acknowledged. This is just bad style and does not show your analysis.

Never employ anyone to write an essay for you. Never download essays from any website. If you use material from the Web you should acknowledge it as in the case of material drawn from books.

Finally remember the last part of the definition for plagiarism given earlier: ‘ .. the representation of them as one's own original work.’ When submitting coursework you are required to sign a declaration which, for example, may start by stating:

“I certify that this is my own work and the use of material from other sources has been properly and fully acknowledged. …”[1]

Only sign and submit the work if this is true!

[1] ‘Coursework Submission Form’, School of Chemistry Food and Pharmacy, University of Reading. 2012

Avoiding unintentional plagiarism