In this guide, we are providing information about the academic practices and conventions of citing and referencing that, if followed, will minimise your risk of being accused of plagiarism as a form of academic misconduct.
If you provide citations and references to the authorities and institutions from whom you have borrowed, and you have avoided excessive reliance on any one of them, you will have adhered to the conventional academic conduct that enables you to demonstrate that you have learned from past authorities and evidence, while providing a sound basis for your own critical and creative interventions into academic discourse.
In the University’s Handbook of Academic Regulations, plagiarism is discussed in two contexts: using others' work without acknowledgement; and submitting work which you have previously submitted for assessment, that is, self-plagiarism.
It is not an offence to draw on the ideas and words of others, in fact this is an essential part of academic discourse. However, any such borrowings or reliance should be appropriately acknowledged using quotation marks and in-text citations, and by providing a list of references of works cited and/or a bibliography of works read.
Using such conventions will enable you to make the demarcation between expressions borrowed from what you have read and your own commentary clear.
The University’s Handbook of Academic Regulations also sets out guidance on the expected penalties for plagiarism offences. They vary according to the following four criteria:
The level of study
Whether it’s a first offence or subsequent offence
Whether the plagiarism is due to unreferenced paraphrasing or unreferenced quotation
The extent of the plagiarism (10%, 10-50%, above 50%, 100%)
At the lower end of the spectrum, the guidance for unreferenced paraphrasing of up to 10% is to ‘mark on merits’. This means that your work would be marked on the basis of its non-plagiarised content. The penalties are higher for more extensive or verbatim plagiarism.
We strongly recommend you take one or both of the following tutorials on plagiarism:
Avoiding Plagiarism tutorial on Blackboard: bit.ly/avoidingplagiarismtutorial
Macmillan Skills for Study Referencing and Understanding Plagiarism tutorial: libguides.westminster.ac.uk/skills4study
Each should take less than an hour, and by the end you will be able to: