Definition of plagiarism

Plagiarism is the act of passing off as your own work another person’s writing, words, or ideas. You must make it clear which ideas you have obtained from someone else. Superficial and minor changes do not disguise your use of the words of someone else. You commit plagiarism if you do not acknowledge the source of a direct quote, or a specific piece of writing that you have paraphrased, or even if you describe an idea or concept that you have heard or read somewhere without a reference or acknowledgement.

Examples of plagiarism as given in the University’s Student Code of Conduct Policy are:

  • Direct copying of paragraphs, sentences, a single sentence or significant parts of a sentence;
  • Direct copying of paragraphs, sentences, a single sentence or significant parts of a sentence with an end reference but without quotation marks around the copied text;
  • Copying ideas, concepts, research results, computer codes, statistical tables, designs, images, sounds or text or any combination of these;
  • Paraphrasing, summarising or simply rearranging another person's words, ideas, etc without changing the basic structure and/or meaning of the text;
  • Offering an idea or interpretation that is not one's own without identifying whose idea or interpretation it is;
  • A ‘cut and paste' of statements from multiple sources;
  • Presenting as independent, work done in collaboration with others;
  • Copying or adapting another student's original work into a submitted assessment item.

Importance of referencing

Complete and accurate referencing is essential for academic writing. There are three main reasons why full referencing is essential.

  1. The first is that when another writer’s work is used without being referenced the act of plagiarism has been committed. Plagiarism is the act of misrepresenting as one’s own work the ideas, interpretations, words or creative works of another and is covered by the University’s Student Integrity and Misconduct Policy. The penalty for plagiarism under the Student Discipline and Misconduct Policy can range from a fine not exceeding 1 penalty point to exclusion from the University.
  2. The second reason for referencing is so that anyone reading the paper can follow up any ideas or concepts that have been presented. This is especially important in academic writing where people involved in research may read the paper. One of the main ways of researching a topic is to read what other people have written and then follow up some of the references they have cited. Then, after those ‘follow-up’ papers have been read the researcher can continue the search-trail by tracking down more references cited in those follow-up papers, and so on. This is known as a bibliographical chain. This research is difficult if not impossible to complete if papers are not fully and accurately referenced.
  3. Thirdly, referencing is important as it adds credibility to the argument that you are presenting. If an argument is to have any credibility it must be supported by evidence and that evidence must be referenced.

If a reader of your paper can read something that you have written and ask questions like; who says? Or How do you know that? Or On what do you base that comment? Then what you have written needs to be referenced. For more information on the importance of, and direction on referencing please refer to the UQ Library guides.

Consequences of plagiarism

Students should be aware that we do not hesitate to use the procedures available under the Student Integrity and Misconduct - Policy to investigate suspected misconduct involving plagiarism.

The penalties imposed for cases where a finding of misconduct is made vary, based on the seriousness of the case and range across but are not limited to:

  • A written warning or reprimand;
  • a fine not exceeding 1 penalty unit;
  • a reduction in the mark for the assessment piece or cancellation of the mark for the assessment piece;
  • a requirement to complete further or repeat work for the subject;
  • the cancellation of credit for the subject;
  • expulsion from the University.

Students should also be aware of the fact that when a finding of misconduct is made, this is recorded on their student record.