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Referencing: Avoiding Plagiarism

This guide will help you identify and use the correct referencing style to ensure clear & consistent presentation of written material.

Upholding Academic Integrity

Academic Integrity is all about being honest and up front about your work.  Specifically, it looks at:

  • Being honest about how much research you have done.
  • Being honest about when, where and how you have used someone else's ideas or information
     (giving credit where credit is due).
  • Being honest about what is and isn't original work.

In practical terms it involves doing two simple things:

  1. Putting original thought and work into every single assignment, while also researching appropriately.
  2. Referencing appropriately whenever you use someone else's work to support yours.

When you submit an assignment at JCU, you are saying "Except where I have noted, this work is mine and it is original," as well as "Wherever I have been helped by someone else's work, I have acknowledged them."

If you hand in a piece of work where you have not been honest and up front about where your information has come from, you could be guilty of plagiarism, and that is against the Student Academic Misconduct Requirements.

From the JCU plagiarism policy

Official Definitions

plagiarism: reproduction without acknowledgement of another person’s words, work or expressed* thoughts from any source. The definition of words, works and thoughts includes such representations as diagrams, drawings, sketches, pictures, objects, text, lecture handouts, artistic works and other such expressions of ideas, but hereafter the term ‘work’ is used to embrace all of these.

Plagiarism comprises not only direct copying of aspects of another person’s work but also the reproduction, even if slightly rewritten or adapted, of someone else’s ideas. In both cases, someone else’s work is presented as the student’s own.

* to align with the Copyright Act which protects expressed thoughts which are reproduced, published, performed or communicated.

What is plagiarism

Plagiarism is claiming another person's work as your own.

That sounds like something a normal, honest person wouldn't do, but you can "accidentally" plagiarise if you aren't paying attention.

The most obvious forms of plagiarism are:

  • Handing in someone else's work (this is also called "cheating")
  • Copying and pasting from another source and pretending it is your own (this, too, is called "cheating" - as well as "being a lazy little **insert cussword here**")
  • Finding and using information without admitting where you found it.

Now the first two are obviously cheating, but the last one can happen by accident if you don't pay attention to your sources of information.

Any information that you did not invent must come from somewhere.

When you don't acknowledge the work other people have done, you are saying "This is my original work" and, if that isn't true, then you've plagiarised.

How to avoid plagiarism in three easy steps

Plagiarism is very simple to avoid.  All you have to do is acknowledge where your information came from.

Step One:  Whenever you read something, take notes about:

  • Who wrote it (also keep track of the other important data, like the title and journal title)
  • Any piece of information that you think you might use later (just dot points or a few sentences will do)

Step Two:  When you are thinking about your essay:

  • Brainstorm the ideas you want to use, and find the name of the person or people who talked about those concepts
  • Jot down the names next to the ideas

Step Three:  When you are writing your essay:

  • Whenever you use an idea that came from something you read or heard, put the name of the person responsible next to the information you used.
  • Whenever you use someone's exact words, put it "in quotation marks"
  • Later, use a guide to tidy up your references using the right style.

Critical Thinking Tutorials playlist

This awesome little playlist from the Critical Thinker Academy will talk you through a lot of the core basics about plagiarism and referencing.  It's not specific to APA style, but talks about some of the features that are common to referencing across all styles.

Watching the whole playlist will take a little time, but it will be worth it if you need some more information about what is and isn't plagiarism.

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