Study Coach Academic Support: How to Prevent Plagiarism?

Student Zone, University Library, University Academic Support Department, Study Coach UK will all echo the same warning to students and that is: Don’t Plagiarise/Avoid Academic Misconduct. At the start of the academic year the academic support department will usually provide university students with rules surrounding plagiarism. Further Education Colleges will also provide students with information about  plagiarism; students are therefore being informed but yet students will later breach plagiarism rules. 

Study Coach UK would like to help students to understand the meaning of plagiarism and therefore to avoid being penalised. We are sympathetic to students and feel that for many students making the transition from Sixth Form to College/University might be a little overwhelming and rules about plagiarism might be heard but not fully understood. Study Coach UK will attempt to simplify the meaning of ‘plagiarism’ we further suggest that students should read-up on the importance of referencing, since referencing and plagiarism are connected, click here for a blog on referencing: https://www.studycoachuk.com/academic-support-referencing/

UNIVERSITY EXPECTATIONS

An article written by Professor Kerri Krause of La Trobe University, and cited by www.turnitin.com states that unfortunately students arrive at university with unrealistic expectations about learning and workload. The view is that students arrive at University with the expectation that the standard of work they will produce at University will be similar to what they produced at secondary education. For mature students who may have spent years outside of education prior to taking a 1 year Access course to enter University, expectations about academic requirements will clearly be challenging. It is therefore not surprising that rules surrounding plagiarism might need to be repeated over and over again for students to adopt new expectations.  

PLAGIARISM/ACADEMIC MISCONDUCT

Students should first note that Universities and Colleges do make use of several terms to refer to plagiarism. For example, London Metropolitan University student.londonmet.ac.uk refers to academic misconduct. London Metropolitan University states that: “The University takes academic misconduct very seriously and seeks at all times to rigorously protect its academic standards. Plagiarism, collusion and other forms of cheating constitute academic misconduct.”  

ACADEMIC MISCONDUCT 

Academic Misconduct: meaning colluding with another student(s) or others in drafting an assignment, essay, dissertation, presentation is considered to be a form of cheating and the act falls under the category of plagiarism. If the work is a group presentation it will not be deemed to be academic misconduct, however please note below.  

GROUP WORK

Do however note that if you have worked closely with others in preparing an assignment, you still need to ensure that the work you are presenting is sufficiently your own. In other words you worked together but don’t write-up together. 

PLAGIARISM

Your draft assignment should be your own work, yes you should take advantage of the advice and feedback you receive from tutors and others but in the end the work must be your own work. Assignments should be evidenced with relevant academic research and these should be clearly acknowledged, including acknowledging quotes. Failure not to reference sources could be deemed as plagiarism and students could be heavily penalised. 

Now, I know that it is important to make friends at College/University, but if the friendship is going to be based on you assisting/colluding with your friends to write assignments, then my advice to you is to end the friendship (tough love). 

ACADEMIC HONESTY

Students therefore need to learn academic honesty, meaning that work that you submit for marking must be your own work and it must be in your own words. This last sentence might sound a little crazy but the point being made is that a student should not copy and paste researchers’ words and submit as their own. 

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO

Don’t read evidence from a website, book or article and try to take ownership simply because you read the work. The work is not yours, it belongs to the author, you can cite the work but you need to reference the source. Furthermore, taking chunks of text from books, articles, websites and appropriately citing the source will still be deemed to be plagiarism. 

Now, having read the last sentence, if you’re left wondering how you can plagiarise when you have appropriately referenced the source, the issue is that of taking chunks of text and not having an input into what is typed-up. If you choose to quote researchers (by typing-up chunks of their work) you will need to discuss the quotes, discuss the statements, discuss the data. You need to give a good rationale for deciding to rely on the researcher’s words; you need to do some thinking, raise arguments, critique what you have typed-up. You need to have an input into your assignment. Furthermore, if you have no input into the assignment apart from typing-up the author’s words, you should expect to receive a feedback stating ‘descriptive work’. Your aim is to be discursive not descriptive. 

DISHONEST

Students should familiarise themselves with the meaning of ‘dishonest’ in an assessment and to be aware of the possible penalties if they fail to comply. Some acts of dishonesty are: cheating in exams, fabricating data, impersonation, working as a syndication, colluding, attributing researchers work to self. The importance of referencing cannot be stressed enough, students should follow Harvard referencing guidelines and remember that work submitted for marking is likely to be submitted through the Turnitin system. Turnitin www.turnitin.com is a computing system to promote academic integrity, the system will generate a similarity report and will identify where a student has taken words from. 

ACKNOWLEDGING PLAGIARISM RULES

Students are likely to find that they will need to sign an acknowledgement of being aware about plagiarism/academic honesty rules. From my brief search Anglia Ruskin University https://aru.ac.uk Birmingham University www.birmingham.ac.uk Bradford University bradford.ac.uk and other institutions, all make it clear to students that plagiarism rules should be adhered. 

Bradford University bradford.ac.uk highlights the connection between referencing and plagiarism and raise the question of ‘What is a reference?’ 

The answer given by Bradford is that: a reference is the way that you acknowledge your use of other people’s work. There are two parts: The citation is a pointer in the text of your work, saying that you are using someone else’s ideas. The reference gives the full details of where the information came from. You put it in a reference list at the end of your work. 

In order to avoid plagiarism students therefore need to reference correctly, as previously stated you can read the Study Coach UK blog on academic support and referencing, the link is above.  

PENALTY FOR MISCONDUCT

Having taken the time to write regulations on plagiarism and to bring it to students attention it should come as no surprise that the penalty for plagiarism/academic misconduct can be severe. University/Colleges are likely to have graduated penalties for the type of academic misconduct. Students might receive a reprimand or it might lead to expulsion from the University or College. Study Coach UK don’t want you to end up crying, so please don’t plagiarise. 

CONTACT: If you have a question about Plagiarism or need an Academic Support Service, then do get in touch with Study Coach UK. Email: Morel Benard info@studycoach.uk.com 

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