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Referencing, citations and avoiding plagiarism (MTU Kerry): How to avoid plagiarism

Referencing, citations and avoiding plagiarism (MTU Kerry)

How to avoid plagiarism - a video guide

Video courtesy of Bainbridge College, Georgia, USA.

Helpful sites on plagiarism

Avoiding Plagiarism (Institute of Technology Tralee, Student Handbook 2020: Student Rights & Responsibilities. Section 2.1.4)

2.1.4 - Avoiding Plagiarism

It is important to  understand that plagiarism can  take  on several  different forms.  It may involve the whole  or part  of your work (essay, project etc.).   Part plagiarism may vary from copying passages from other sources without citation to situations where you do cite your sources, don’t copy the wording directly  but  rely too  heavily on the way the original sources are written when writing your own work. Plagiarism  may also involve the use of false or misleading citations. While citations and references, which are  poorly  or improperly written, may not  necessarily imply plagiarism, if the reader is unable to locate the sources as a result, then the possibility  of plagiarism occurs.  It is the duty of the student to avoid  such suspicions by observing agreed citation and referencing conventions.

The  different  forms  in which  plagiarism occurs  are  described below. It is essential to  avoid  such  practices when  presenting your  academic work  for  assessment or publication.


Verbatim  copying without citations

At the most dishonest end of the spectrum this involves presenting a complete work (essay,  project, software code etc.) written by another party as your own work. Otherwise, it may involve partial copying, the inclusion of passages or elements copied directly from other sources without any  indication that this has been done. This partial  copying may vary in its level of dishonesty from one sentence being copied from another source to large parts of the work being copied from one or more sources.


Verbatim  copying with citations

Even if the appropriate citations are included to show  the sources of the ideas or information presented, verbatim copying is  dishonest unless it is made clear which  sentences or passages have been quoted and from where. While excessive use of quotations properly indicated is not dishonest, it is likely to be poor academic practice in that it amounts to having  others write your work to a large extent.


• Excessive reliance  on wording and structure of sources with citations

Even if all sources are appropriately cited, it is dishonest to rely too heavily on the way sources are written when writing your  own work. Taking sentences and passages from cited sources and then slightly altering the wording is not academically honest in that it is assumed that in your work the ideas you have taken from elsewhere have been filtered through your understanding and then expressed in your words. Such heavy reliance on the way sources are written still amounts to stealing the writing style of others and stealing the way they expressed  their ideas. To  avoid  being guilty  of  this kind  of plagiarism, one should  not begin by copying and pasting sentences and passages from other sources into one’s own work but by summarising in your own words the ideas you want to derive from those sources. A low match score on turn it in does not necessarily indicate that the work is free of this kind of plagiarism.


• Excessive reliance  on wording and structure of sources without citations

This involves greater dishonesty than doing so with citations, as above. Not only are you presenting the way the work is written as your own when it is largely the writing of others but you are also presenting the ideas or information taken from other sources as your own without giving any credit to the original authors.


False or misleading citations

It is obviously  dishonest to  include  citations which  are  not  real  (i.e. they are made up) and it is also dishonest to cite sources which are not the actual  source from  which the ideas or  information was drawn. A variation on this involves including citations which are only very loosely connected with what you have written. This may be  done to lend a false sense of academic authority to your writing.  Normally sources cited should  have  focused specifically on the topic being discussed and not simply made some passing comment or allusion to the matter in the context of a work which has a different focus. It is also crucial that citations and references are properly written so that the reader can access the original sources. In particular, it is not acceptable to cite a book or lengthy report without including the page number or numbers if the relevant idea or information is only in a specific passage or section of the book. If the contents of the book or report as a whole is being drawn on or referred to, then page numbers will not be necessary. The same applies to the citation of websites; the specific page or pages within the website from which the idea or information was drawn must be shown unless the whole site is relevant.


Recycling  own  work

Self-plagiarism is also dishonest. You should  treat your own previous work like the work of another and cite it in a similar way. It is academically dishonest to repeatedly present the same research, ideas or arguments in different works without alerting the reader to the fact that you are drawing on your own previous work. Students must treat academic work they have presented for assessment purposes as if it were published work. If a prior presentation (e.g. an essay or project) is drawn on in the course of writing a subsequent work, another essay or project etc., then the prior work must be properly cited in the same way as if it were the work of another.


Excerpt taken from the Institute of Technology, Tralee, Student Handbook 2020: Student Rights & Responsibilities.

General introduction to citations and referencing

This is an very good introductory video of a student from The University of Derby explaining the concept of citations and referencing. Please note, however, that although the examples given are based on a Harvard Referencing style, it differs from the Harvard Anglia Ruskin style used in IT Tralee. For example in the style we use we do not put the date of publication in brackets in the Reference list, unlike in the Harvard Style that is used here. We also use the author's initials rather than the author's full First Name in the Reference list.