Plagiarism & Academic Integrity

At UNSW plagiarism is a form of academic misconduct and is viewed very seriously. The following notes describe what plagiarism is and where you can obtain additional information about it. It is part of your responsibility as a student of UNSW to ensure that you understand what plagiarism is, so that you avoid it in any of your assignments and other academic work.

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is using the words or ideas of others and presenting them as your own. Plagiarism is a type of intellectual theft. It can take many forms, from deliberate cheating to accidentally copying from a source without proper acknowledgement, that is referencing. The basic principles are that you should not attempt to pass off the work of another person as your own, and it should be possible for a reader to locate information and ideas you have used by going to the original source material.  Acknowledgement should be sufficiently accurate to enable the source to be located quickly and easily.  If you are unsure whether, or how, to acknowledge your source material, consult your lecturer or visit The Learning Centre. UNSW groups plagiarism into the following categories:*

  • Copying: using the same or very similar words to the original text or idea without acknowledging the source or using quotation marks. This also applies to images, art and design projects, as well as presentations where someone presents another person’s ideas or words without credit.
  • Inappropriate paraphrasing: changing a few words and phrases while mostly retaining the original structure and information without acknowledgement. This also applies in presentations where someone paraphrases another’s ideas or words without credit. It also applies to piecing together quotes and paraphrases into a new whole, without referencing and a student’s own analysis to bring the material together.
  • Duplication: submitting your own work, in whole or in part, where it has previously been prepared or submitted for another assessment or course at UNSW or another university.
  • Collusion: working with others but passing off the work as a person’s individual work. Collusion also includes providing your work to another student before an assignment is due, or for the purpose of them plagiarising at any time, paying another person to perform an academic task, stealing or acquiring another person’s academic work and copying it, offering to complete another person’s work or seeking payment for completing academic work.

The School recognises and encourages the need of external students to have contact with each other and where possible collaborate in their studies. However, there have been instances where students have copied each other's material and submitted it as their own – this is an example of collusion. Lecturers are alert to this practice. You should not work with any other student to answer assignment questions and submit the same or very similar work as someone else unless it is a group assignment. Also, is it not acceptable to submit an assignment which has been submitted by a student in a previous year or submit an assignment which is substantially similar to one you have submitted for another course.

*These categories are adapted from by Oxford Brookes University (UK) Plagiarism Information Skills, Oxford Brookes University Library Skills Resource.

Where can I find more information?

In many cases, plagiarism can be the result of inexperience or poor academic skills, rather than the deliberate intention to deceive.  The University has adopted an educative approach to plagiarism and developed a range of resources to support students, which are outlined below. The University has also developed a clear set of procedures for managing serious and repeat instances of plagiarism. These require a set of formal processes be undertaken to investigate students’ academic standards. A range of penalties can be applied by the University if a student is found to have plagiarised.

1. UNSW’s Plagiarism & Academic Integrity Website

This site aims to address three issues that often result in plagiarism: unfamiliarity with the concept of plagiarism; knowing how it occurs, and developing the necessary academic skills to avoid plagiarism. As a student, you will be able to use this collection of resources (worked examples, activities and links) to improve your all-round academic literacy and, consequently, reduce the possibilities for plagiarism. More information is available on the UNSW Plagiarism & Academic Integrity site. UNSW has also produced a booklet to assist you with essential information for avoiding plagiarism.  See Plagiarism: Essential information for avoiding plagiarism.

2. The Learning Centre

The Learning Centre provides a range of programs and resources for students including website materials, workshops, individual tuition and online tutorials to aid students in:

  • correct referencing practices and citation practices;
  • paraphrasing, summarising, essay writing, and time management;
  • appropriate use of, and attribution for, a range of materials including text, images, formulae and concepts.

Individual assistance is available on request from The Learning Centre. Students are also reminded that careful time management is an important part of study and one of the identified causes of plagiarism is poor time management.  Students should allow sufficient time for research, drafting, and the proper referencing of sources in preparing all assessment items.

3. The Elise Study Skills tutorial

ELISE (Enabling Library & Information Skills for Everyone) is an online tutorial to help you understand how to find and use information for your assignments or research. It will help you to search databases, identify good quality information and write assignments. It will also help you understand plagiarism and how to avoid it. The Elise Study Skills tutorial is highly recommended to Postgraduate students in their first semester of study. On completion, students will be able to:

  • Understand the need for citing information and be able to use appropriate referencing styles
  • Conform with conventions and requirements relating to the access and use of information
  • Understand and abide by copyright laws.

4. Turnitin

Turnitin is an originality checking and plagiarism prevention tool that enables submitted written assignments to be checked for plagiarism including improper citation or misappropriated content. Each assignment submitted to Turnitin is checked against the submitted assignments of other students as well as the Internet and key resources (including library databases, text-book publishers, digital reference collections, subscription-based publications, homework helper sites and books) as selected by the course convenor. Some courses may require all students in that course to submit their work into Turnitin when they submit their work. However, academics can also use it to check an individual student’s assignment when they are marking it. You can find out more about Turnitin.

Addressing plagiarism and academic misconduct

As a UNSW student you need to be aware that any allegation of plagiarism needs to be investigated by the School and that if the allegation is proven, the student is placed on the UNSW Student Plagiarism and Misconduct Register. Plagiarism varies in its extent and seriousness and procedures are in place that deal with plagiarism through education and referral to the Learning Centre to more formal reprimands and penalties depending on the seriousness of the plagiarism and previous history of the student.  Penalties for students found guilty of repeated plagiarism can include a reduction in marks, failing a course, or for more serious matters, suspension or exclusion from the University.  For more information on academic misconduct you can refer to UNSW Student Misconduct Procedures.