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InfoWise is an information literacy programme developed by Nelson Mandela University Library and Information Services.


Plagiarism definition

“Plagiarism, is a form of academic dishonesty and means the failure to acknowledge, whether intentionally or negligently, that one has made use of someone else’s work in producing what one has submitted as one’s own work”. (Nelson Mandela University. 2013. Policy for the promotion of academic integrity and prevention of plagiarism, p. 2).


Avoid plagiarism

Whether you use information from a book, journal article, newspaper, interview, website or any other information source always acknowledge the source.  An effective way of keeping track of references used and your own ideas is by good note taking.


Examples of Plagiarism

The following are illustrative examples of commonly occurring instances of plagiarism:

1. Direct quotation from someone else’s work, but without using quotation marks or citing the author;

2. Paraphrasing or summarising someone else’s work without acknowledging the original author;

3. Translating the text of another without citing the source;

4. Collusion, which is unauthorised collaboration, whereby (for example) a student and one or more other persons produce academic work, which is then deliberately submitted as the work of the student only;

5. Downloading information from the internet without proper referencing or acknowledgement of the original author;

6. Copying an image or design, or part thereof, from the internet or other source and using it to produce an image or design which is not materially different from the original, without acknowledging the source/creator of the original.

7. Allowing another student to use one’s work so that he/she can present it as his/her own work;

8. Resubmitting work which has previously been submitted and graded for the same or another assignment without referring to the original submission; 9. Submitting work for publication which has previously been published in similar form and content (also referred to as ‘self-plagiarism’).

(Nelson Mandela University. 2013. Policy for the promotion of academic integrity and prevention of plagiarism, Annexure B).

What is considered as not plagiarism

Common knowledge

It is not necessary to provide a reference when you write about something that is common knowledge.

If you were writing about the effect of transport on the environment, you could mention that emissions from cars are known to have a detrimental effect on the environment without providing a reference because this information is well known in the public domain.

If you then went on to state the exact percentage of carbon dioxide produced from car emissions then you would need to provide a reference because this is a detail which is not commonly known to people.


Work created by yourself

Originally created work by yourself that does not need referencing, includes the following:

  •     Writing of your own experiences, observations, insights, thoughts and conclusions
  •     Writing up your own results obtained through lab or field experiments
  •     Using your own artwork, digital photographs, video, audio, etc. 

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