Skip to Main Content

CBE - Industrial Psychology and People Management: Plagiarism and Copyright

The Department has a comprehensive offering at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, both in traditional university qualifications and professional development opportunities.

Plagiarism definition



Question from a student?

What is plagiarism, and why do universities take it so seriously? If the information that I want is readily available in books and the internet, why can’t I just use it as it is in my assignments?

Answer: Put simply, plagiarism amounts to theft: theft of what is referred to as ‘intellectual property’. The information in books, the internet, and various other sources, does not belong to you; it belongs to the writers who created it.
  • You are allowed to use it in essays and other assignments, but you have to acknowledge the fact that it does not belong to you by using your own words and then referencing your sources carefully whenever you use such information.
  • You may also use the information as it is but whenever you do this, you must always place the information in quotation marks and then, once again, cite the source. However, you must quote sparingly so that you do not end up with an essay or assignment which looks like a patchwork quilt! It is easy to avoid plagiarism once you learn how.


Many people think of plagiarism as copying another's work, or borrowing someone else's original ideas. But terms like "copying" and "borrowing" can disguise the seriousness of the offense:

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, to "plagiarize" means:

  • to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own
  • to use (another's production) without crediting the source
  • to commit literary theft
  • to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.

In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else's work and lying about it afterward.

To avoid Plagiarism you need to learn how to acknowledge the resources (books , articles, etc) in your research project/asssignment.


Copyright is a bundle of exclusive rights, given to authors/creators (known as rights owners) in order to control certain activities relating to the use and dissemination of their original works, whether they are :

  • books
  • articles
  • music
  • artworks
  • computer programs
  • films
  • sound recordings


The UJ Plagiarism Policy states that:

“…. Copyright is the specific intellectual property right, which an author acquires in accordance with the Copyright Act, No. 98 of 1978 in respect of a protected work.


Copyright infringement includes the infringement of the economic rights of the right holder and the moral rights of the author….”

Why do people plagiarise ?

People plagiarize as a result of the following:

  • Not knowing any better
  • Pressure/competition
  • Lack of confidence
  • Work perceived as too difficult
  • Lack of consequences
  • Lack of interest or laziness
  • Arrogance

What are the consequences of plagiarism?

  • Plagiarism is unethical becuase it is intellectual theft
  • It is in conflict with the UJ Values of trust and academic integrity
  • It shows disrespect for the rights of the original author
  • It tarnishes the Universities reputation, and diminishes the value of your qualifications
  • It casts suspicion on the honest work of the students

How to recognize plagiarism?

How to avoid Plagiarism

To Avoid Plagiarism:

  • Never Copy Directly
  • Never Print Directly
  • Never Copy From Other Students

To Quote a Source:

  • Always Use “Quotation Marks”
  • Always Give Credit to the Source (Citing & Referencing)

To Paraphrase:

  • Always Use Your Own WordsAlways,
  • Give Credit to the Source

To Use Common Knowledge:

  • Always Use Facts Known by Many People
  • No Citations Needed

Copyright @ UJ

User Manual

This document has been designed by the copyright office to guide students and staff of the University of Johannesburg

Subject Guide