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What is Plagiarism?

The theft of ideas (such as the plots of narrative or dramatic works) or of written passages or works, where these are passed off as one’s own work without acknowledgement of their true origin; or a piece of writing thus stolen.

“plagiarism” The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. 2008. Oxford University Press.

Some Common Forms

  • Copying directly from another source without saying from where you’ve taken it.
  • Using ideas or rephrasing text from another author without attribution.
  • Using a diagram, chart or table from another source without referencing.
  • Reusing some parts of your previous assignment.
  • Submitting another person’s work as your own.

How to avoid it?

  • Use your “own voice”.
  • Paraphrase.
  • Use quotation marks when using exact phrases.
  • Cite your sources.
  • Organise and track your reading material. You can use a Bibliographic Management Software such as EndNote to help you with this.

Academic Integrity at NTU

Plagiarism Quiz

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How much do you really know about Plagiarism and how to avoid plagiarising? Try the online quiz and find out for yourself.

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Plagiarism Videos

The library has put together a playlist of YouTube videos on Plagiarism. Click here to view.

Resources

Print

There are many resources which cover the mechanics of academic writing, citation and how to avoid plagiarism. The Library has put together a list of materials available in NTU Library should you wish to explore this area further.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about plagiarism, citations and copyright compiled by NTU Library.

1.    Why do I need to provide proper citations and acknowledgement in my writing? Why do I have to acknowledge the sources of my idea?

2.    When should I cite a source?

3.    Can I use copyrighted works?

4.    Why do I have to seek permission from publisher to use a figure I created which has been published in a journal article for use in my thesis or in another journal article?

5.    If I find a picture/graphic on the Internet, can I use it for my paper/presentation with proper attribution?

6.    What if I write something and find the same idea published somewhere else?

7.    Will I be punished if I have plagiarised accidental?  

8.    What is self-plagiarism? Why can’t I re-use my own work?

9.    Why can’t I copy what I have written for a journal article for my PhD thesis? It’s my work.

10. If I copy the work of others frequently but provide the proper citation, is it considered plagiarism?

11. I am using materials in article A, which is citing a book B, who do I cite?

12. What is the difference between a list of references and a bibliography?

 

1.

Why do I need to provide proper citations and acknowledgement in my writing? Why do I have to acknowledge the sources of my idea?  <top>

• Documents your research – you are telling your supervisor or reader that you have done the necessary work and are an expert in this area because you have reviewed the literature on it. It also allows your reader to verify your claim by going back to the original work.
• Creates greater impact on your readers – research work is about finding the gap in the body of knowledge that you can fill. When you cite the works of others, you are creating explicit linkages between your own research and those that came before you, providing the rationale for your research and how it fits into the gap . Others will in turn link to your research, creating a web of knowledge.
• Strengthens your arguments – it shows that they are based on research findings and not something that has been pulled out of thin air.
• Helps you to avoid accusations of plagiarism

 

2.

When should I cite a source?  <top>

You should cite a source for the following:
• When you use an idea that has already been expressed by someone else.
• When you refer to the work of another person.
• When you quote the work of someone else.
You do not have to cite when
• You are talking about your own experiences or observations.
• Compiling the results of original research.
• Anything that is common knowledge.

 

3.

  Can I use copyrighted works? <top>

In Singapore, for the research and study purposes, photocopying and reproduction of materials is allowed under the fair dealing exceptions.
However, to use copyrighted works, such as images, charts or graphs, in your paper/thesis, you will need to obtain the permission of the copyright holder (either the author or publisher).

 

4.

Why do I have to seek permission from publisher to use a figure I created which has been published in a journal article for use in my thesis or in another journal article? <top> 

This is because you may have signed away your rights to reuse the content in your article to the publisher of the journal.
Different publishers have different terms and conditions for authors and authors’ rights to reuse their own published content. Hence should you want to reuse the content in your journal article which has been published, it is best that you check against the publisher’s terms and conditions and to seek permission from the publisher where required.

 

5.

If I find a picture/graphic on the Internet, can I use it for my paper/presentation with proper attribution? <top>

If you do not have the permission of the copyright holder, you are not allowed to use it, even if you’ve attributed the source. Attribution is related to plagiarism, and is different from copyright.
It is good practice to seek permission from the copyright holder for pictures/graphics that you would like to include in your publications. Most would be happy to grant permission if it is for educational use.
However, with the introduction of the Creative Commons license, it is possible to use images that have the CC license without having to seek the permission of the creator. However, it is a good practice to read carefully which type of CC license the image falls under.

 

6.

What if I write something and find the same idea published somewhere else? <top>

Too bad, they got there first! So you would still have to cite the published source.

 

7.

Will I be punished if I have plagiarised accidental?  <top>

Every case is different and will be judged differently. However, pleading ignorance or claiming that the plagiarism is accidental will not be enough.

 

8.

What is self-plagiarism? Why can’t I re-use my own work?  <top>

According to the American Psychological Association (2010), self-plagiarism “refers to the practice of presenting one’s own previously published work as though it were new” (pg. 170).
This is also mentioned in NTU’s Academic Integrity Policy where one is guilty of plagiarism if one submits the same piece of work for different courses, journals and publications.
While it may sound oxymoronic, you are committing self-plagiarism if you reuse your own work. In most academic institutions, submitting the same work twice for two different assignments is an act of academic dishonest. You should not be credited twice for the same work. If you need to use parts of work you have already submitted before, you should provide the appropriate citation to it.

 

9.

Why can’t I copy what I have written for a journal article for my PhD thesis? It’s my work.  <top>

Your thesis/dissertation should identify and fill a research gap. If you self-plagiarise, you are not adding anything new to research and knowledge. Furthermore, if your work has already been published in a journal, you may be infringing on the copyrights of the publishers if you reuse your own work verbatim. Therefore, it would be prudent not to copy-and-paste your own published work. Or if you must reuse it, to always provide the proper citations.

 

10.

If I copy the work of others frequently but provide the proper citation, is it considered plagiarism?  <top>

If your work is a patchwork of chunks of texts from other sources, even if you cite correctly, you are still in danger of committing plagiarism as it is not your original work.

 

11.

I am using materials in article A, which is citing a book B, who do I cite?  <top>

You should read book B and cite B. Going back to the original source also ensures that you are not using someone else’s misinterpretation of ideas.

 

12.

What is the difference between a list of references and a bibliography?<top>

References are the items you have read and specifically referred to (or cited) in your work. The in-text citation and the items in the reference list must match. A bibliography is a list of everything you have consulted in preparation for your assignment, whether or not you have referred to them in the assignment.

 

 

Bibliography

American Psychological Association (2010). The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. Sixth Edition. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association. Call No. BF76.7.P976 2010

Bowman, Steve. (2009). Avoiding Plagiarism. Retrieved 1 October, 2011, from http://www.slideshare.net/houxy/avoiding-plagiarism-1

iParadigm, LCC. (2011). The Ethics of Self-Plagiarism. Retrieved 17 May, 2012, from http://www.ithenticate.com/self-plagiarism-free-white-paper/

iParadigm, LCC. (n.d.). Types of Plagiarism. Retrieved 5 December, 2011, from http://www.plagiarism.org/plag_article_types_of_plagiarism.html

Imperial College London. (n.d.). Plagiarism awareness: the student’s perspective. Retrieved 5 December, 2011, from http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/library/researchers/studentplagiarism

Neville, C. (2007). The complete guide to referencing and avoiding plagiarism. Maidenhead ; New York: Open University Press. Call No. PN171.F56N523

Roig, Miguel. (2006). Avoiding plagiarism, self-plagiarism, and other questionable writing practices: A guide to ethical writing. Retrieved 17 May, 2012 from http://facpub.stjohns.edu/~roigm/plagiarism.doc

Valenza, Joyce. (2004). What is plagiarism? (And why you should care!). Retrieved 1 October, 2011, from http://www.slideshare.net/guest4a0a5f/plagiarism-173189