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Guide to St Paul's Grammar High School Library

Academic honesty - avoiding plagiarism

To plagiarise is to take credit for someone else’s work, or to present the ideas and thoughts of others as your own. You can use the ideas of others, as long as you acknowledge the person from whom you have obtained them. When completing your assignments, you should be striving for 'academic honesty' - i.e presenting your own work and acknowledging the work of others.

Why is it wrong to plagiarise?

It presents someone else’s work as our own
It takes credit for someone else’s hard work – and may cost them loss of income
It will probably be phrased differently to the way you would normally write
It doesn’t allow you to think about what you are presenting
It is just plain dishonest!

Consequences may be…

"No mark" penalty
Failure in the whole course
A poor reputation as a cheat
Failing to make any sense of your work

What are the best steps to avoid plagiarism?

  1. Don’t just ‘copy’ and ‘paste’

  2. Make your own sense of the information you find – take notes, add your thoughts and then synthesise or state these ideas in your own words

  3. If another author makes a point extremely clearly (to back up what you are saying), quote this, but be sure to cite (i.e. give reference details of) this within your work, and acknowledge (give credit to others) this in your reference list.

What then is the right way to research?

Skim read for relevant points
Make notes of useful points
Copy significant quotes
Keep track of references
Synthesize ideas
Acknowledge the opinions and ideas of others

All this is important because the point of most research is to:

Add to what you already know
Develop ideas
Join the ideas of many to one coherent (logical and meaningful) body of thought
Challenge concepts of the past
Develop concepts of the future

Warning, Warning, Warning

Use the right tools to complete effective research.
A lot of research will require that part of the work be done in class (e.g. notes as part of the submission). And sometimes this will be marked!
IT makes it easy to test for plagiarism (many computer programs and other methods can be used)
Teachers know about the ways students are now able to plagiarise.

Followup references

You may find your own explanations of plagiarism on the Internet, by searching with the terms 'plagiarism' or avoiding plagiarism', or check out the one mentioned below.

Many university sites also have lots of details to help their students avoid plagiarism, as well as lots of detail on how to properly cite the resources you have used in research. (see also Citing References on the library pages.)

Avoiding Plagiarism

Harris, Robert A. (2001) The plagiarism handbook : strategies for preventing, detecting, and dealing with plagiarism. Los Angeles, Calif. Pyrczak




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