Skip to Main Content AUB

Referencing: Plagiarism

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism, the representation of someone else’s ideas or words as your own, is a serious academic offence. AUB's policy on Academic Dishonesty can be found on the Regulations webpage

Plagiarism can be avoided through good referencing and citation. When you write your own piece of work, you must give credit to all the sources you have used that have been written or produced by other people. This will demonstrate the breadth and quality of sources you have consulted and enable others to trace the knowledge that has informed your work. Keeping accurate records of everything you've read throughout your research process will make the job of constructing your reference list and correctly providing citations throughout your writing a much easier task.

An Exception: Common Knowledge

You do not need to cite a source if what you are stating is considered to be common knowledge and therefore likely to be known by a lot of people - such as widely known facts and dates.

Ideas, interpretations and opinions, even when commonly held, are not normally considered common knowledge and you should provide a citation to acknowledge the source.

Sometimes, especially the further you get into your studies, it can be harder to decide what counts as common knowledge and what is expert knowledge, as some things can be widely known in your field of study but unknown to the general public. If in doubt, always provide a citation.

Avoiding Plagiarism

Most plagiarism happens accidentally, through poor note taking and not understanding how to reference. Here's how you can avoid this:

Take detailed notes as you research
When reading a source, anytime you note down something word-for-word, immediately place it in quotation marks so you know it's a quotation. Make sure you also note the original source and what page you found it on. This will make giving a citation much easier, and save you panicking at the last minute.

Keep your own thoughts and ideas separate when making notes
If you mix-up your own comments and ideas when making notes on a source, it may be easy to accidentally assume that the ideas from that source are your own too! Be very careful if you cut-and-paste from online resources. Keep your own thoughts on a separate page, or colour-code to keep it clear.

Make sure you understand how to paraphrase correctly
Paraphrasing is restating someone else's ideas in your own words. Changing a few words of the original sentences does not make your writing a legitimate paraphrase. You must change both the words and the sentence structure of the original, without changing the meaning. You must also provide a citation to the source that you have paraphrased. 

Make sure you understand how to include citations
Citations must be included any time you quote, paraphrase or summarise from a source, as well as when you refer to ideas, research, data or statistics found in other sources. It should be apparent which piece of information a citation is referring to, and your citation should usually appear in the same sentence where you included the quote, paraphrase or summarise. Check how to give citations here. 

If in doubt, provide a citation
If you're not sure if you need to provide a citation, it's always better to have one than not. If you're including a long paraphrase or mixing your own ideas with a source, it's good to restate the citation so it's clear to your readers where those ideas originated from. 

Types of Plagiarism

Simple word-for-word copying is not the only type of plagiarism. Read below to learn about the ten most common types of plagiarism, and visit the Plagiarism Spectrum site to learn more about each of these.

10 Most Common Types of Plagiarism

Source: Adapted from Turnitin Plagiarism Spectrum, 2016