A person commits “plagiarism” when they wrongly represent, pass off or reproduce someone else’s words, phrases, concepts, ideas, data or other work (“intellectual output”), whether written, visual or oral, as their own original intellectual work, without adequately acknowledging the original author or source by means of the recognised referencing methods of the relevant discipline.
Plagiarism includes the direct representation, passing off or reproduction of another’s intellectual output as one’s own, or through the establishment of a close identification with that other person’s intellectual output (e.g., through paraphrase or close borrowing), in the absence of a clear acknowledgment (through, e.g., quotation marks or accurate source reference) that the intellectual output is someone else’s and not one’s own.
Plagiarism does not occur if the words, phrases, concepts or ideas or data used belong to a common language or are common knowledge in a particular discipline, or if the representation, passing off or reproduction of another’s intellectual output as one’s own is of a minor or frivolous nature and not substantial.
Plagiarism is committed by a person who wrongly represents, passes off or reproduces another’s intellectual output as her/his own with the intention to deceive, or who does so without adequate knowledge, skill, or care in presenting academic work as her/his own under circumstances where that person may reasonably be expected to have had such knowledge, skill, or care.
Plagiarism can and often does amount to infringement of copyright, in which case the provisions of the Copyright Act 98 of 1978 can also apply.
Plagiarism is academic dishonesty. It compromises academic integrity, the five fundamental ethical values of which are taken to be:
- honesty, - trust,
- fairness, - respect - responsibility.
A student who commits plagiarism fails to:
(i) develop the ability to analyse, interpret and evaluate available knowledge and information;
(ii) acquire the knowledge, competencies and skills required for the workplace;
(iii) develop a personal style of academic writing; and
(iv) establish or develop an independent voice that articulates knowledge and information in an original and authentic way.
Self-plagiarism occurs when a person represents, passes off or reproduces their own work previously submitted for assessment or published as new or original work without declaring that fact. This may amount to academic misconduct that may lead to disciplinary action. Examples are where a student submits previously assessed work for which a qualification had been awarded for purposes of obtaining another qualification, or where a publication for which state subsidy had already been generated, is submitted as original work to again generate state subsidy.
Fabrication and falsification of academic research are related to plagiarism and are also forms of academic misconduct:
(i) Fabrication of academic research occurs through the invention of data and results and recording or reporting them;
(ii) Falsification of academic research occurs through manipulation, change or omission of data or results of research material, equipment, or processes, resulting in inaccurate representation of research.
Students have the responsibility to ensure that they know and understand what plagiarism and academic integrity are as explained in the Plagiarism Policy and what the serious consequences of academic dishonesty are.
Students are expected to know and to apply the referencing techniques appropriate to a particular academic discipline, as made available to them by academic and academic support staff, to ensure that the authenticity and originality of written or presented works of academic creativity are not compromised by a lack of understanding proper referencing.
Students are expected to seek assistance from academic and academic support staff when they are unsure about whether they are committing plagiarism in their work.
Students who allow their work – whether intentionally or negligently, to be copied by others, are equally complicit in the fraudulent practice of academic misconduct and will be subject to concomitant university disciplinary measures.
Consult with your instructor: Have questions about plagiarism? If you can’t find the answers on our site, or are unsure about something, you should ask your instructor. He or she will most likely be very happy to answer your questions. You can also check out the guidelines for citing sources properly.
2. Plan your paper: If you know you are going to use other sources of information, you need to plan how you are going to include them in your paper. This means working out a balance between the ideas you have taken from other sources and your own, original ideas. Writing an outline, or coming up with a thesis statement in which you clearly formulate an argument about the information you find.
3. Take Effective Notes: One of the best ways to prepare for a research paper is by taking thorough notes from all of your sources, so that you have much of the information organized before you begin writing. On the other hand, poor note-taking can lead to many problems – including improper citations and misquotations, both of which are forms of plagiarism! To avoid confusion about your sources, try using different colored fonts, pens, or pencils for each one, and make sure you clearly distinguish your own ideas from those you found elsewhere.
4. When in doubt, cite sources: you should always cite your source. Instead of weakening your paper and making it seem like you have fewer original ideas, this will actually strengthen your paper by: 1) showing that you are not just copying other ideas but are processing and adding to them, 2) lending outside support to the ideas that are completely yours, and 3) highlighting the originality of your ideas by making clear distinctions between them and ideas you have gotten elsewhere.
5. Make it clear who said what: Even if you cite sources, ambiguity in your phrasing can often disguise the real source of any given idea, causing inadvertent plagiarism. Make sure when you mix your own ideas with those of your sources that you always clearly distinguish them. If you are discussing the ideas of more than one person, watch out for confusing pronouns.
6. Know how to Paraphrase: A paraphrase is a restatement in your own words of someone else’s ideas. 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 content. Also, you should keep in mind that paraphrased passages still require citation because the ideas came from another source, even though you are putting them in your own words.
7. Evaluate Your Sources: For starters, make sure you know the author(s) of the page, where they got their information, and when they wrote it (getting this information is also an important step in avoiding plagiarism!). Then you should determine how credible you feel the source is: how well they support their ideas, the quality of the writing, the accuracy of the information provided, etc. We recommend using Portland Community College’s “rubrics for evaluating web pages” as an easy method of testing the credibility of your sources.
Turnitin is an Internet-based plagiarism-prevention service used by UJ. Turnitin helps educators evaluate student work and provide great feedback to improve student learning.
Instantly check to see if student work is original by comparing it to the most comprehensive database in the industry, including the world’s largest repository of student papers. Color-coded and percentage-tagged highlights provide immediate insight into matched content.
Turnitin eliminates the time-consuming process of verifying student authorship by presenting easy-to-use reports that show how much of a document is original, cited from other sources, or unoriginal. With Turnitin, educators can promote academic integrity in their classroom. Students learn the importance of original writing and attribution and foster critical thinking skills that are important to student success
Support Academic Integrity
Provide feedback to students on their use of source material with the world’s largest content comparison database. Highlight original writing and proper citation. When institutions adopt Turnitin, unoriginal work decreases by 33%, and students are challenged to think more critically.