Plagiarism is taken very seriously by universities, because put simply, plagiarism is stealing - it's the theft of someone else's ideas or work.
Referencing can seem very complicated and confusing at first. It's easy to think you'll fall into the trap of accidentally plagiarising, and - with your universities dire warnings of being given a mark of zero and being thrown off your course - it's easy to let panic set in. But don't worry, there are ways you can ensure that you are not plagiarising. Follow the tips below - and relax.
One of the best ways to avoiding plagiarising is to make notes in your own words; this ensures that you don't accidentally use someone else's words in your work - it also helps you to better understand what you read.
Remember, even if you express someone else's ideas in your own words, you must still reference the source
1. Choose a passage of text from a source you plan to use for a written assignment.
2. Read through this passage, and then put the text to one side.
3. Now try to write what you have just read in your own words. Try to capture the 'essence' of the passage - what are the main points the author is making?
4. Return to the original passage and compare it with your paraphrased version. Have you successfully captured the meaning?
5. If you've directly quoted any phrases from the original passage, be sure to put them in quotation marks.
6. When you paraphrase sources, introduce them with phrases like Jones (2001) suggests..., or Smith (1998) believes...
Making notes in your own words is just one tool in your plagiarism avoidance strategy: you should also keep records of what you read and where you read it, learn to reference correctly and never copy and paste someone else's work into your own writing.
On the next page of this topic, we attempt to answer as many as possible of your referencing questions.