Commonly asked questions about plagiarism
- June 1, 2016
- Posted by: Admin
- Category: NEWS ROOM
When writing any academic paper, we need to find information and evidence to inform our writing and to provide the reader with evidence. However, when we do this, we must also show where this evidence in from in order to give the original authors credit and allow others to check this information. Not doing so is known as plagiarism and is considered to be a form of theft.
While most students will do their best to avoid plagiarism, it can be difficult as it can be hard to determine what plagiarism is and the methods of giving authors credit often seem complex to begin with.
To help with this, Brighten Institute Australia has complied some of the most frequently asked questions about plagiarism. For further advice, please see our brief guide to referencing here.
What is plagiarism?
Plagiarism is the term used to refer to academic theft. This theft occurs when we use information created by others and do not properly attribute the information to its original author(s). Attribution is required any idea, fact, phrasing, statement, data or figure used that was created by another author. For instance, if we mentioned that 50% of all dogs have brown eyes, we would have to mention where we found this information.
Why do we attribute information?
Attributing information to its original author serves three purposes:
- It gives the original author credit for the work they have accomplished.
- It allows the reader to know how to access the original information in case they want clarification or further insight.
- To show your teacher that you have performed research on your own.
Is plagiarism easy to detect?
To ensure academic honesty, Brighten Institute Australia employs electronic plagiarism detectors which cross-reference submitted work with thousands of other articles.
Additionally, plagiarism is often easily observable due to shifts in tone, grammar and sentence construction. Furthermore, instructors and assessors are well versed in the theoretical background of their units and are often able to identify the source of plagiarised material by sight.
What counts as plagiarism?
Plagiarism can take many forms; however, it is most commonly:
- Material copy and pasted without reference
- Quotations made without reference
- Paraphrased information included without reference
- A failure to indicate the assistance of others
- Submission of work completed by others
- Uncited submission of your own work that has been previously submitted
How can I avoid plagiarism?
Please see our simple guide to proper referencing and citation using the Harvard Style. This is the style most frequently used by business students in Australia.
Alternatively, you can use other recognized referencing styles, such as those from the Modern Language Association (MLA) or the American Psychological Association (APA).
Should I avoid using outside material?
While fear of plagiarising may cause you to rethink including outside material, your work will benefit if you make use of as much outside material as possible. This is as, oftentimes, the best and most persuasive answers are those in which we make a statement and then support it with evidence. We simply need to ensure that we give credit where appropriate.
When should I cite material?
In general, we need to cite whenever we are using information that we did not personally create. For instance, if your teacher informed you that in their experience the most effective way of establishing business contacts was through interdisciplinary networking, then we have to attribute the information to the teacher.
What do I do when I didn’t create the information but it is obvious?
In the event that you are declaring something that is common knowledge or so obvious that it does not require a reference, you are able to state this. By doing so, you are attributing the information to the general understanding of society. This will inform the reader that you understand this information does not need to be cited.
Here are some examples:
It is common knowledge that the sky is blue.
It is generally accepted that the Earth orbits the sun.
It is commonly agreed upon that all sentences must begin with a capital letter.
While there are many issues regarding plagiarism, the above questions are those that most frequently cause the most problems for students. However, by simply being aware of what plagiarism is, you’ll be able to avoid many of the problems that can hinder students’ academic writing.
For further information, please consult the style guide of the referencing method of your choice, or view our additional posts regarding plagiarism.
1st June, 2016