Plagiarism is the use of someone else's words, ideas, concepts, arguments, designs or work without properly crediting the original author. You plagiarise when you copy or recycle another's work without due
acknowledgment, or when you knowingly allow someone to use your own work in this way.
Sometimes plagiarism involves deliberately stealing someone’s work, but often it happens accidentally, through carelessness or forgetfulness.
A key way to avoid plagiarism is to keep a track of all your research as you work. You cannot refer to, quote or paraphrase a source without appropriately referencing it in your work. So if even you have an excellent piece of information that is highly relevant to your assignment, if you cannot outline fully where you found it, you must not use it.
The second way to avoid plagiarism is to apply the relevant referencing style. It is essential that you start to build your understanding of the Griffith College Harvard referencing style, or Oscola if you are studying law, from the very start of your studies. This is not negotiable, and is expected to be applied from first year undergraduate studies.
Our Referencing Styles section has full style guides for Griffith College Harvard and the Oscola Ireland Legal referencing style.
All Aboard Higher Education / Digital Learning: Interactive lesson on understanding referencing
This lesson from AllAboard.ie introduces using referencing standards to address the issue of avoiding plagiarism. It examines the distinctions between paraphrasing, quoting, citing and other ways of combining sources.
Start early - And take notes!
An easy way to help you avoid plagiarism is to give yourself enough time when starting on your assignment. It is easy to miss something when you are under pressure for time. Give yourself sufficient time to do your research and take notes as you go. Every time you see something that catches your attention, note where you found it, if it is a quote, write down the page number. You can keep a track in a Word document, Excel or on a notepad. The Library recommend Zotero as an excellent way to keep a track of your work, and we offer support in learning how best to use it.
It is one thing to cite your sources, but unfortunately that won’t mean much if you don’t do it correctly. Make sure you know what referencing style is expected for the assignment you are working on and apply it accurately. You might be trying to do the right thing and still get it wrong, so do check in with the library if you are in any doubt.
Internet is a Source
Treat a source you found on the internet the very same as you would a book or a journal article. It is still someone's original work and should be treated with the same sense of fair play. You must reference or cite the online sources you use.
Use quotations when you are directly quoting someone. As soon as you write it down in your notes, be sure to include the page you found it on, either in a book or a journal article.
Paraphrasing is when you reword a sentence without it losing meaning. You write it in your own words, and do not just take out one word and replace it with another.
Include a reference page at the end of your assignment. It is best to keep a track of bibliographic information as you research. If you try to retrace your steps at the end as finish up your written work you will run into problems.
It does not take that much time to scan through your paper and make sure you have cited every source you used. Do not be tempted to skip this step, you should avoid including a source that has not been acknowledged. After all, you have done the research, you should take care to take every opportunity to demonstrate the breadth of your reading.
Talk to your lecturer
Make sure you know the guidelines for the assignment you are working on. Sometimes, we can save ourselves so much of time by simply asking. Clarify if a reference page or in-text citation is required.
Be discerning. You should not need to use all information you find in your sources. You can add value to the topic by including some of your own insights.
When we research we have gained a more interconnected understanding of the topic. However, too often when if comes to writing up assignments we can revert to simply listing a synopsis of the material we have read. Rather than simply listing other's work, you should demonstrate understanding of the material. You can refer to the Guide and Resources for Academic Writing section to gain some further assistance in this.