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Plagiarism: What it is and how to avoid it

| November 8, 2011 | 1 Comment

In the UK and other western countries plagiarism is a serious academic offence. You can be heavily penalized and in extreme cases your degree can be nullified if you are guilty of plagiarism.


Definition of Plagiarism

Plagiarism is using someone else’s ideas, statistics, theory, actual words, graphs, etc without giving them credit for these.


How to avoid Plagiarism

You can paraphrase what someone else has said, and give their name in a list of others who have said or written much the same, this is fine. What you must not do is take whole chunks of someone’s work and not put it in quotations marks or give a reference to their work.

This does not mean that you have to hunt through the whole library to see who first said that people are strange creatures for example. This is widely known and commonly accepted. Whoever first noted this down is now immaterial; we all know from personal experience that on the whole this is generally so.


How to spot Plagiarism

Tutors can easily spot plagiarism because you have your own style of writing and a foreign student does not have the same style of writing (usually) as a native-speaking academic writer. Plagiarism is clear so don’t think you can get away with it because you have done your research and are quoting an obscure author.


Why you should not resort to Plagiarism

You have to do a lot of painstaking research to get a Master’s degree in the UK and you have to show that you have done that research. One way of showing how much work you have done is by giving quotations and references. These go in your bibliography and this should be extensive, but the bibliography will be checked and if you have not given references in the main body of your dissertation to the material in your bibliography, then this is worthless.

The best way to avoid plagiarism is to paraphrase what someone else has said, but you should still give their name and refer to their work if you are borrowing an idea.

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Category: Dissertation Writing Guide, Essay Writing Guide

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