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Science - Copyright, Plagiarism & Referencing : UJ Plagiarism Policy

UJ Policy: Student Plagiarism

With the "Policy: Students Plagiarism", the University of Johannesburg provides a uniform framework for dealing with student plagiarism.

This Policy covers plagiarism by students pursuing studies for any programme of the University (subsidised and non-subsidised, undergraduate and postgraduate) across all campuses of the University by any faculty, department or other structure.


The purpose of this Policy is to record the principles that underpin the University’s:

  • approach to student plagiarism,
  • the processes it applies when student plagiarism is detected and
  • the responses of the University to student plagiarism.

Plagiarism is understood as one of several related forms of academic dishonesty, all of which are addressed in the Student Disciplinary Code. The Policy also deals with a related form of academic dishonesty that does not necessarily fall under the classical definition of plagiarism, namely the passing off of a student’s own ideas as original whilst those ideas had previously been submitted for assessment by the student.


According to the "UJ Policy: Students Plagiarism", plagiarism is defined as "Passing off ideas however expressed, including in the form of phrases, words, images, artefacts, sounds, or other intellectual or artistic outputs, as one’s own when they are not one’s own; or such passing off, as an original contribution, of ideas that are one’s own but have been expressed on a previous occasion for assessment by any academic institution or in any published form, without acknowledgement of the previous expression"

Students can access the policy on UJContent (Institutional Repository)

UJ Policy: Student Plagiarism Highlights

Highlights from the Plagiarism policy:


5.1 The acceptable level of plagiarism at the University of Johannesburg is zero.

5.2 No case of reportable plagiarism shall go without a formal response.

5.3 Responsibility for understanding and avoiding plagiarism lies with the student, and therefore ignorance is not necessarily a defence against plagiarism. The ability to recognise and avoid plagiarism is an academic skill which, like other academic skills and knowledge, students are expected to master. As for other academic skills and knowledge, students are expected to evince clearer understanding of plagiarism as they progress through the years of education, and failure to progress in this regard will affect their academic record

5.3 The University and its students have a reciprocal responsibility on the one hand to educate and on the other to learn about plagiarism. The University has a responsibility to take steps to ensure that students understand what plagiarism is and how to avoid it, and students have a responsibility actively to apply themselves in this regard.


7.1 In deciding upon a response for a given case the following factors must be considered:

7.1.1 the plagiarism history of the student, the response identified for a case with this history in paragraphs 7.2.1, 7.7.2, 7.2.3 or 7.2.4 of this Policy, and any previous educational responses, formal academic responses or disciplinary penalties imposed upon the student for plagiarism or other academic misconduct;

7.1.2 the level of the student, to the extent that it bears on whether the student can be expected to have understood and avoided the plagiarism that has occurred;

7.1.3 the extent of the plagiarism;

7.1.4 the nature of the plagiarism, to the extent that it bears on whether the student can be expected to have understood or avoided plagiarism of this nature;

7.1.5 the degree of intent or of recklessness, neither of which is necessary for plagiarism in accordance with Paragraph 5.4 of the Policy but which may compound or mitigate the offence, or necessitate further action beyond the scope of this Policy, especially where criminal activities are suspected;

7.1.6 consistency with existing practice and previous decisions within the Faculty and University;

7.1.7 the recommendation of other committees or academic staff involved in the case;

7.1.8 any other relevant circumstances of the case.

7.2 Reportable plagiarism may result in:

7.2.1 in the first instance by that student, a mark of zero for the assignment or work in question (which is a response that can arise from assessment and thus falls within the Faculty Plagiarism Committee’s powers), that may or may not lead to further natural consequences, such as the student not obtaining the minimum module mark to gain entrance to the examination, or the student obtaining a failing mark for the module or degree in question; or

7.2.2 in the second instance by that student –

(a) deregistration from a module, or

(b) cancellation of a mark or result, or

(c) any combination of these; or

7.2.3 in the third instance by that student, suspension for one full academic year; or

7.2.4 in the fourth instance by that student, expulsion; or

7.2.5 where, considering all the circumstances of the case, the Committee deems the responses indicated in Paragraphs 7.2.1 to 7.2.4 to be inappropriate or inadequate, any other response the Committee deems appropriate considering the factors set out in Paragraph 7.1.

7.3 Recognising that the nature and correct treatment of plagiarism may vary between academic disciplines, in interpreting the Policy each Faculty shall establish its own guidelines and practices so as to ensure fairness and consistency in responding to plagiarism, consistent with the principles set out in Paragraph 5 of the Policy.


8.1 Where a case of plagiarism is not reportable, responsibility lies with the Department to determine the appropriate educational response, which may or may not include capping or prescribing a mark. All such cases of plagiarism shall be brought to the attention of the Head of Department.

Read the UJ Policy: Students Plagiarism for more detailed information

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Pavlinka Kovatcheva
University of Johannesburg Library
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