What You Need to Know About Plagiarism

Many students visiting Advocacy and Welfare have allegations of plagiarism against them. But what is plagiarism and how can you avoid it?

Plagiarism is a big deal. It isn’t just theft of intellectual property, it’s academic misconduct.

Academic misconduct can have big consequences for your grades, course progression and your ability to continue studying at UNE.

What is plagiarism?

UNE’s Student Coursework Academic Misconduct Rule defines plagiarism as a form of Academic Misconduct.
Plagiarism includes:

• using direct quotes from sources without providing an accurate reference.
• closely paraphrasing the work of others without acknowledging the source. This includes ideas, data, wording, and concepts.
• taking work that is not your own, and misleadingly presenting it as your own.
• collusion, in which you work with another person to produce work that you pass off as your own.
• submitting work produced by someone else, for example, a ghostwriter or an online essay-writing website.
• failing to acknowledge work that was primarily produced by a collaborator in an assessment.

Academic misconduct includes recycling assessments completed by other students, for either the unit you’re enrolled in or another unit.
Be aware that academic misconduct includes recycling your own previous assessments.
Do not underestimate Turnitin and your lecturers.

When you submit your assignments at UNE, they get run through the ‘originality checker’ Turnitin. Turnitin is a pretty powerful tool. It will check your assignments against everything on the internet, and against all previous assignments submitted to Turnitin. This includes your own previous assignments.
Your lecturers are pretty smart people. They know their field well. When you find the ‘best article ever!’ for your assignment, you can bet your lecturer knows about it too. So even if Turnitin doesn’t pick up on very close paraphrasing, it’s very likely your lecturer will.

There are many factors that may cause someone to plagiarise.
It could be entirely accidental; maybe you forgot to include that crucial reference. Maybe you didn’t know how to reference.
It could have been intentional, but perhaps you were so unwell that you thought ‘just this once’ you could buy an essay online.
Maybe you worked on your assignment with your friend at college, and you both ended up submitting eerily similar work.

What can you do to avoid plagiarism?
The #1 rule is to always, always acknowledge the source.
Textbooks, articles, lecture slides, websites, reports… It doesn’t matter what it is. Always acknowledge the source. Did I already say that?

Learn how to reference!
You’re much less likely to encounter problems (and to lose marks) if you know your referencing style and when to use it.
The Academic Skills Office has tons of information about referencing, including which referencing style you need to use in your discipline. You can also make a booking with the ASO staff, for individualised help on your assignments.
If you are a first-year student, you can get help from UNE’s First Year Advisors.

Don’t send copies of your assignments to anyone!
If someone uses your work in their own assignment, you would also get in trouble.
Maybe a friend of yours is doing a unit that you did a few years ago. If you send them your old assignment and they appropriate it, you could land yourself in hot water.

If something has happened that makes completing your assignment too difficult, get help!
You’ve got a cold. You injured yourself at rugby. Maybe Nan passed away.
Maybe it all feels too much, you’re stressed and anxious, you’re not sleeping well and not feeling yourself.
Study can be pretty difficult if you’re physically or emotionally unwell.
Get yourself along to the doctor or a UNE counsellor.
Apply for an extension of time or special consideration as soon as you possibly can. For exam time, you can also apply for a special exam.

For an extension on your assignment, contact your Unit Coordinator as soon as possible before the due date. For School of Law extensions, you need to request an extension through the School of Law directly.

So, you’re in trouble… what happens next?
The penalties can be pretty serious.
If you are found plagiarising, the penalties imposed will be selected from the Academic Misconduct Rule. There are varying penalties depending on the severity of the situation. None of them are ideal and many will have lasting repercussions.
On the lesser end of the spectrum, you might get a reprimand or probation.
You may be required to rewrite and resubmit the assignment, subject to a 20-50% reduction in marks. You may lose considerable marks in that assessment. You might be penalised with a reduction in grades for the whole unit.
A WUN might be awarded, where you are ‘Withdrawn by the University and Deemed to have Failed’. This will show on your academic transcript.
On the more severe end of the spectrum, you could be excluded from your unit, degree (course) or UNE altogether. These penalties can be permanent or for a certain period of time. If plagiarism is found after graduation, your Degree could be revoked.

Advocacy & Welfare can help!
If you need assistance, you can contact our office on (02) 6773 3116 or at advocacy@une.edu.au. You can also pop in to see us in person, our office is in the UNE Arcade across from the UNE Life office and north of the café.