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Academic integrity: plagiarism and referencing

Lots of students worry about being accused of plagiarism or copying from the work of others. It is easy to avoid but you might want to look at more information about this to be sure you stay squeaky clean. Make sure that you keep a list of all the resources you use to back up any points you make in the assignment and make sure that if you make quotations from sources or refer to other people's work in the course of your own work the distinction between your work and theirs is very clear.

Look at the links below to find out more.  

Find out about plagiarism 

Learn to reference properly 

Look at our guide on paraphrasing 

About plagiarism

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is defined as passing off someone else's work as your own. This can be research, statements, images and statistical data.

Plagiarism occurs when you don’t acknowledge where the information that you have used in your assignment came from. For example, copying directly from a text word-for-word, using text downloaded from the Internet, paraphrasing the words of a text very closely, downloading or copying pictures, photographs, or diagrams without acknowledging your sources.

Sometimes plagiarism might be deliberate, and sometimes you may be accused of plagiarism because you have not understood how to paraphrase another author's work or if you do not use correct referencing.

The most important thing you can do to avoid plagiarism is to reference your work.

Why should I care about plagiarism?

In the UK academic community, plagiarism is considered to be a form of Academic Theft.

Staffordshire University has important Academic Misconduct guidelines with consequences if you break these that can lead to disciplinary action and expulsion from courses.

Will my lecturer know if I have plagiarised?


Staff are aware of research in their subject area  and  they have supported many students through their studies and can identify changes in writing style etc, that may indicate plagiarism.

The University uses a National plagiarism software solution, Turnitin. This software enables student work to be submitted and checked against a national database for elements of plagiarism 


About Turnitin

Turnitin is an electronic text matching system that can be used to find text matches between the work you have submitted and existing electronic sources, including the extensive databases of electronic articles, other student assignments and the internet. Using Turnitin will produce both an originality score and detailed originality report for your assignment. Turnitin doesn't make any judgements about your work and whether anything has been plagiarised. This is a decision that your tutor will make. 

Use of the service allows the University to systematically check for plagiarism, thus helping to ensure all students' work is original and it can also help you to improve academic writing skills by providing active feedback on citation and referencing.

If you have to submit work through TurnitIn you tutor will explain how to do this through Blackboard.

What is plagiarism and how can I avoid it?