Plagiarism and how to avoid it

Dear Student, our Programme modules do not just aim to equip you with knowledge and skills in certain subject areas; you are also expected to develop your writing skills, which is fundamental to any public health work. In your assignments you are expected to demonstrate understanding of and insight into the topic and you need to present a coherent and clear report.
Linked to this is the expectation that your work is underpinned by literature. It is important that you bring in material from relevant literature, to support your arguments and demonstrate your understanding of the literature in your field, and how your own ideas fit into the existing knowledge within your field. You can integrate and present the material in your own words or “quote” directly from a literature source. Whether you summarise the material or write it in your own words or “quote” it, you have to acknowledge the source in your report, i.e. you should let others know where you got the ideas or facts from. Otherwise you commit plagiarism.  


What is plagiarism?


Plagiarism means taking someone else’s work or ideas and presenting them as one’s own, and is considered serious academic misconduct. Especially if you have not done academic work in the past it is quite possible that you commit plagiarism accidentally. Please bear in mind that committing plagiarism has its consequences and avoiding it is one of the principles of academic writing. Below are some questions and answers on avoiding plagiarism.


How can I avoid plagiarism? 

Both in your contributions to course discussion fora, as well as your assignment submissions you should use your own words when you write about any material you use from other sources, or place the words of others in quotation marks, i.e. between “… “.  This is important to distinguish your own original work clearly from the work or ideas of others.  You have to also acknowledge the sources of the material you used. In order to do that you “cite” the source within your text and then at the end of your text you add a list detailing all the references you used in the text.  Help on how to cite and reference can be found in the Study Skills Resources on Student Corner.


Which resources should I cite and reference?


The material you present during discussions or in assignments should be your own work and be written specifically for the course. Any other written or verbal material including your classmates’ or yours have to be cited and referenced.


How do I reference my work? 

The Harvard and Vancouver systems are the two commonly used reference styles and used for both intext citing and creating reference lists at the end of your text. The Harvard style requires you to insert the date of publication and name of author(s) intext every time you refer to a source; you then list the references cited in the text at the end alphabetically by author. If you choose to use Vancouver style you allocate a number to each source and insert the corresponding number every time you refer to a source in the text; at the end, you list all references cited in numerical order. 
We recommend the Harvard style of referencing - you will find resources to help you in the Student Corner once you are enrolled as a student.

How is plagiarism checked in Peoples-uni courses?


Instructors check for plagiarism using plagiarism detection software - this is also available to students to check their own work before submission. 


Please see here for more information on how to use the plagiarism detection software to check your assignment.

What is Peoples-uni’s approach to dealing with plagiarism? 


If markers judge it likely that the detected plagiarism is unintentional, a warning will be given, and you may be asked to resubmit.  In more severe cases, an assignment will be graded “0” and the student will normally be given the opportunity to resubmit the assignment, or may be permitted to retake the course in a later semester.  Repeat occurrence of plagiarism may result in the student being barred from any further opportunity to submit assignments within Peoples-uni.


For more on our academic study and writing skills resources library and courses, click here (requires login).