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Plagiarism

The School takes a very severe line on students who plagiarise work. The University defines plagiarism as:

- the presentation of the work of others as the writer’s own without appropriate acknowledgement
- the use of excerpts from the writer’s previous work without appropriate acknowledgement (auto-plagiarism)
- the submission of one piece of work more than once, e.g. where such work has been previously submitted for a different assignment (self-plagiarism).

Students who plagiarise may receive a mark of zero. In some cases, acts of plagiarism can result in the student failing the entire degree. Remember, plagiarism includes information from books, newspapers, journals AND the Internet. All suspected cases of plagiarism will be investigated in line with University procedures, full details of which can be found in the School’s Student Handbook and in the General Regulations of the University (see Study Regulation 7).

Plagiarism is defined as the presentation of the work of others as the writer’s own without appropriate acknowledgement and is treated as a serious academic offence. It is also an academic offence for a student to permit another student to copy his/her work submitted for assessment. Both parties will be dealt with in accordance with these procedures.

In effect, plagiarism is a form of theft. This could include:
• handing in another student's essay and pretending that it is your own work;
• copying chunks out of articles, chapters or books and pretending that it is your own work;
• taking phrases or sentences from the work of another and pretending that it is your own work;
• copying out chunks of another's work without using quotation marks to show that this is the work of another;
• borrowing ideas from a source without giving a reference (footnote etc.,) for what is borrowed.
• copying from the Internet.

 

In order to help students avoid plagiarism the School now requires all Level 1 and Level 2 students to submit electronic copies of their coursework by uploading them onto the TurnitinUK website. Guidelines on coursework submission are available here.

 

In order to demonstrate how this might work, a paragraph has been copied from a recent text book. We have then given a number of examples to show how plagiarism works in relation to this paragraph. First, here is the passage:

When we walk into a room the kind of body that we have both defines us in certain ways, and helps to shape our interactions with others: whether we are black or white, female or male, disabled or not, ill or healthy, tall or short, fat or thin. Indeed many of us spend considerable time and effort working on our bodies: through the use of make-up or diet, in the gym or on the football field, through cosmetic surgery, body-piercing or tattooing, in the choice of clothes we wear to hide or expose parts of our body. There is, in this way, something very personal and intimate at stake in defining and moulding the body. Our bodies are not only intrinsic to our personal identities and to our social encounters, they are also political, subject to all kinds of power and control. The law, for example, circumscribes specific kinds of bodily act (underage sex, paedophilia, rape, and even inter-racial sexual relations); it regulates the availability of certain medical procedures (abortion, contraception, the use of amniocentesis); and it controls access to certain representations of the body (pornography). Similarly, the media portray certain idealised images of female and male beauty that many of us desperately attempt to live up to; it offers images of 'alternative' embodied life-styles; and it constructs particular versions of racial, and ethnic identity all centred around bodies that are valued or coded in different ways, from the stiff upper lip to the gallic shrug. The body has become the very stuff of contemporary cultural politics. This is demonstrated in the increasing interest within academic circles about particular practices of the body and the ways in which they are underwritten by certain relations of power. Over the last fifteen years or so there has been a veritable explosion of interest in the body covering such subjects as aerobics (Markula 1995; Lloyd 1996); male and female body-building (Wacquant 1995a; St Martin and Gavey 1996; Aoki 1996), cosmetic surgery (Davis 1991, 1995; Morgan 1991), male and female boxers (Wacquant 1995b; Hargreaves 1997) and music and dance (Jordan 1995; DeNora 1997) to name but a few. So what explains this shift and how does it figure within social and political thought?

Moya Lloyd in F. Ashe et al., Contemporary Social and Political Theory (Open University Press, 1998, 111-12)

Plagiarism - example one

When we walk into a room the kind of body that we have both defines us in certain ways, and helps to shape our interactions with others: whether we are black or white, female or male, disabled or not, ill or healthy, tall or short, fat or thin. Indeed many of us spend considerable time and effort working on our bodies: through the use of make-up or diet, in the gym or on the football field, through cosmetic surgery, body-piercing or tattooing, in the choice of clothes we wear to hide or expose parts of our body. There is, in this way, something very personal and intimate at stake in defining and moulding the body. Our bodies are not only intrinsic to our personal identities and to our social encounters, they are also political, subject to all kinds of power and control. The law, for example, circumscribes specific kinds of bodily act (underage sex, paedophilia, rape, and even inter-racial sexual relations); it regulates the availability of certain medical procedures (abortion, contraception, the use of amniocentesis); and it controls access to certain representations of the body (pornography). Similarly, the media portray certain idealised images of female and male beauty that many of us desperately attempt to live up to; it offers images of 'alternative' embodied life-styles; and it constructs particular versions of racial, and ethnic identity all centred around bodies that are valued or coded in different ways, from the stiff upper lip to the gallic shrug. The body has become the very stuff of contemporary cultural politics. This is demonstrated in the increasing interest within academic circles about particular practices of the body and the ways in which they are underwritten by certain relations of power. Over the last fifteen years or so there has been a veritable explosion of interest in the body covering such subjects as aerobics (Markula 1995; Lloyd 1996); male and female body-building (Wacquant 1995a; St Martin and Gavey 1996; Aoki 1996), cosmetic surgery (Davis 1991, 1995; Morgan 1991), male and female boxers (Wacquant 1995b; Hargreaves 1997) and music and dance (Jordan 1995; DeNora 1997) to name but a few. So what explains this shift and how does it figure within social and political thought?

Here the imaginary student in question has simply copied out the paragraph word for word without using references or quotations.

Plagiarism - example two

When we walk into a room the kind of body that we have both defines us in certain ways, and helps to shape our interactions with others: whether we are black or white, female or male, disabled or not, ill or healthy, tall or short, fat or thin. Indeed many of us spend considerable time and effort working on our bodies: through the use of make-up or diet, in the gym or on the football field, through cosmetic surgery, body-piercing or tattooing, in the choice of clothes we wear to hide or expose parts of our body. There is, in this way, something very personal and intimate at stake in defining and moulding the body. Our bodies are not only intrinsic to our personal identities and to our social encounters, they are also political, subject to all kinds of power and control. The law, for example, circumscribes specific kinds of bodily act (underage sex, paedophilia, rape, and even inter-racial sexual relations); it regulates the availability of certain medical procedures (abortion, contraception, the use of amniocentesis); and it controls access to certain representations of the body (pornography). Similarly, the media portray certain idealised images of female and male beauty that many of us desperately attempt to live up to; it offers images of 'alternative' embodied life-styles; and it constructs particular versions of racial, and ethnic identity all centred around bodies that are valued or coded in different ways, from the stiff upper lip to the gallic shrug. The body has become the very stuff of contemporary cultural politics. This is demonstrated in the increasing interest within academic circles about particular practices of the body and the ways in which they are underwritten by certain relations of power. Over the last fifteen years or so there has been a veritable explosion of interest in the body covering such subjects as aerobics (Markula 1995; Lloyd 1996); male and female body-building (Wacquant 1995a; St Martin and Gavey 1996; Aoki 1996), cosmetic surgery (Davis 1991, 1995; Morgan 1991), male and female boxers (Wacquant 1995b; Hargreaves 1997) and music and dance (Jordan 1995; DeNora 1997) to name but a few. So what explains this shift and how does it figure within social and political thought? (Lloyd 1998: 111-2).

Here the imaginary student has given a reference for the paragraph but this is NOT enough. S/he has still copied out the paragraph word for word, without any alteration. Using a reference (a footnote, for example), implies that the ideas to which the reference refers are taken from Lloyd (in this case) but that the student has paraphrased that source. In other words, that the student has put into her/his own words what Lloyd says here. Clearly, s/he has not. Remember that the only time that it is legitimate to copy the words of another is when you are quoting them directly. This requires you to show that you are quoting them by using quotation marks ("") and by giving a proper reference (see Notes and References).

Plagiarism - example three

The body that we have is important. It defines us in certain ways. It reveals whether we are black or white, female or male, tall or short and so on. Lots of us spend a lot of time working on our bodies. Our bodies are thus very important to us in terms of how we interact with others, how others regard us, and of course, to who we are. It is also the case that our bodies are political. The law, for example, circumscribes specific kinds of bodily act (under-age sex, paedophilia, rape, and even inter-racial sexual relations); it regulates the availability of certain medical procedures (abortion, contraception, the use of amniocentesis); and it controls access to certain representations of the body (pornography). The body is also important in terms of how the media represents it. Although this student has attempted to put bits of the paragraph into her/his own words, they are still plagiarising the piece. Look at the same paragraph below, this time with the plagiarised elements highlighted in bold. The body that we have is important. It defines us in certain ways. It reveals whether we are black or white, female or male, tall or short and so on. Lots of us spend a lot of time working on our bodies. Our bodies are thus very important to us in terms of how we interact with others, how others regard us, and of course, to who we are. It is also the case that our bodies are political. The law, for example, circumscribes specific kinds of bodily act (under-age sex, paedophilia, rape, and even inter-racial sexual relations); it regulates the availability of certain medical procedures (abortion, contraception, the use of amniocentesis); and it controls access to certain representations of the body (pornography).

The body is also important in terms of how the media represents it. Because the student does not acknowledge her/his sources, s/he is, in effect, pretending that the words that appear are her/his own. This is cheating. The highlighted words are clearly Lloyd's. One way around this would simply be to quote the plagiarised bits. Thus:

The body that we have is important. As Lloyd notes: it 'defines us in certain ways'. It reveals whether we are 'black or white, female or male… tall or short' and so on (Lloyd, 1998, 111). Lots of us spend a lot of time 'working on our bodies' (ibid.). Our bodies are thus very important to us in terms of how we interact with others, how others regard us, and of course, to who we are. It is also the case that our bodies are political. Lloyd comments that 'The law, for example, circumscribes specific kinds of bodily act (under-age sex, paedophilia, rape, and even inter-racial sexual relations); it regulates the availability of certain medical procedures (abortion, contraception, the use of amniocentesis); and it controls access to certain representations of the body (pornography)' (ibid.). The body is also important in terms of how the media represents it.

In this instance, the student quotes from their main source. This is much better than plagiarising. S/he also gives adequate references for her quotations. However, anyone marking this piece might say that it is 'too derivative' because it relies too heavily on only one source. Since this is only an exercise to demonstrate to what plagiarism looks like, we have deliberately concentrated on the use of one source only. But do bear in mind that when tutors mark essays they are looking at the range of materials that you use. Also be aware that copying bits and pieces from several sources rather than only one, still constitutes plagiarism. We tend to refer to this kind of cheating as 'scissors and paste' plagiarism.

Please refer to the guidance in the School’s General Study Guide for more information about referencing and plagiarism, as well as general advice on essay-writing.