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What is plagiarism?

What is considered plagiarism and what is not considered plagiarism? Sometimes it’s hard to determine if something can be considered plagiarism. However, that does not change the fact that committing plagiarism is a form of fraud and is therefore a punishable offence.

Plagiarism may cause you to fail a course or even be expelled from your academic program.

Definition of plagiarism

Plagiarism happens when authors, intentionally or unintentionally, present work as their own that was not originally theirs. Plagiarism is a violation of someone else’s intellectual property.

Most universities have their own statements defining plagiarism. See below for several examples.

University of Oxford

“Plagiarism is the copying or paraphrasing of other people’s work or ideas into your own work without full acknowledgement.”
Source: Univeristy of Oxford.

University of Manchester

“Plagiarism is presenting the ideas, work or words of other people without proper, clear and unambiguous acknowledgement. It also includes ‘self plagiarism’ (which occurs where, for example, you submit work that you have presented for assessment on a previous occasion), and the submission of material from ‘essay banks’ (even if the authors of such material appear to be giving you permission to use it in this way).”
Source: The University of Manchester.

University of Cambridge

“Plagiarism is defined as submitting as one’s own work, irrespective of intent to deceive, that which derives in part or in its entirety from the work of others without due acknowledgement. It is both poor scholarship and a breach of academic integrity.”
Source: University of Cambridge.

Which activities fall under plagiarism?

Plagiarism is not just the copying and pasting of someone else’s work. The translating or paraphrasing of texts using synonyms is considered to be plagiarism as well as writing an existing theory in your own words without acknowledging the source. Simply put, using someone else’s idea without duly acknowledging that person’s ownership of the idea is plagiarism.

Preventing (unintentional) plagiarism

To prevent plagiarism, it’s important that you work in a structured manner. Make sure that you save or record all of the sources you use right from the start. Also take care to quote and paraphrase in the correct way and use the proper referencing style when citing someone else’s work.

Checking for plagiarism

Universities are increasingly using plagiarism scanners to scan any essay or thesis that is turned in.

A well-known plagiarism checker is Turnitin, which Ephorus is part of. Ephorus scans your thesis for plagiarism by comparing its content to other theses, academic texts and other texts on the internet.

You can easily prevent plagiarism by uploading it to the Scribbr Plagiarism Check, which checks your text against billions of sources in the Ephorus database.

Go to the Plagiarism check

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