Academic honesty & plagiarism

Maintaining your integrity, or honesty, at university is as important as elsewhere in your life. Universities everywhere take academic integrity seriously, and breaching it by cheating or plagiarising can end your study and impact on your work options in the future.

What is plagiarism?

If you use someone else’s ideas, information or words without acknowledging them, then you are plagiarising. Many students are unfamiliar with the writing conventions of university study when they commence, and most students do not intend to plagiarise in assessments. However, even accidental plagiarism can trigger academic penalties for improper conduct.

Different forms of plagiarism

Whether it is intentional or unintentional, these are all still plagiarism:

  • Collusion: working with other students on an assessment and then claiming it as your own.
  • Verbatim copying: copying material word-for-word, or cutting and pasting it, and presenting it as your own without citing the source.
  • Sham paraphrasing: copying material word-for-word, or cutting and pasting it, and presenting it as a paraphrase rather than a direct quote.
  • Illicit paraphrasing: using material that is closely paraphrased or summarised, without using direct quotes or citing the source.
  • Self-plagiarism or recycling: submitting an old assignment, or parts of it, as new work without acknowledgement or permission from the Course Coordinator.
  • Ghost writing: using work written by another person and presenting it as your own, including text produced for free or at a cost.
  • Bullying: taking and using work written by another and, even if edited, presenting it as your own; and where material was obtained inappropriately such as through emotional, social or physical pressure.
    (Walker, 1998)

If you are found to have plagiarised, there are a range of outcomes that could occur, from failing the assignment to failing the entire subject and even (in extreme cases) being removed from the degree altogether. For more information on this it’s best to check out the plagiarism policy.

Whose responsibility is it?

Acknowledging others’ work is more than a matter of honesty. It is an important characteristic of university life, and it is a process in which everyone is involved. This is a responsibility not just for first-year students, but for everyone to senior lecturers, professors and researchers.

Correctly referencing work that has already been undertaken in your field provides a network of information that others may follow, learn from, and contribute to, for the benefit of everyone.

Skills to help you avoid plagiarism

As adult learners, you are expected to build on your skills. The persistent deadlines of assessment tasks can make a busy timetable seem impossible, so it is critical you establish a routine to ensure you have enough time to produce good work. Avoid last-minute stress that may cause you to take risks with your writing.

Check your understanding of what academic integrity means by completing the Academic Integrity Module (AIM).

Achieve your study goals by:

Fortunately, support is available at Federation University to help you learn the skills to produce your best work, and avoid being charged with plagiarism. Student Academic Leaders (SALs) at the online ASK Desk, and Learning Skills Advisors can help you to develop effective referencing and writing skills.

Library staff also offer advice, workshops and software to help with referencing. Go to the library or visit the online referencing tool, FedCite.

Download our handy helpsheet on the topic, Academic Honesty & Plagiarism.