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Plagiarism and collusion

Plagiarism is the use of other people's words, ideas, research findings or information without acknowledgement, that is, without indicating the source. Plagiarism is regarded as a very serious offence in Western academic institutions and Deakin University has procedures and penalties to deal with instances of plagiarism.

In order not to plagiarise, all material from all sources must be correctly referenced. It is necessary to reference direct quotes, paraphrases and summaries of sources, statistics, diagrams, images, experiment results and laboratory data – anything taken from sources.

How can plagiarism occur?

Some plagiarism is intentional – this is cheating. Unintentional plagiarism can arise from an incomplete understanding by student writers of the nature of citation and referencing in the Western academic context. Poor note-taking skills and carelessness can also contribute to unintentional plagiarism. It is important to understand that even unintentional plagiarism can have very serious consequences.

Why is it important not to plagiarise?

There are philosophical and ethical issues related to why plagiarism is unacceptable. The development of academic knowledge relies on building on the work of others and acknowledging sources. Through referencing, you as a student writer are able to demonstrate the depth of research you have undertaken and the extent to which you have engaged with your subject. Your argument is strengthened when you can demonstrate that you have drawn on and acknowledged the work of experts in your discipline.

Ethically it is necessary to recognise that, when writing in the Western academic tradition, using material without acknowledgement is considered intellectual theft.

Why is plagiarism an issue of concern?

The ease with which material can be accessed electronically and the increased marketing of assignment materials to students is resulting in increased concern about students plagiarising the work of others for their assignments. However, at the same time, plagiarism is becoming easier to detect and software programs are available that can effectively help to identify plagiarised material.

Deakin University uses Turnitin, a software program that detects similarities in wording between assignments submitted and the program's database of published material.

What is collusion?

Another academic offence is collusion. Collusion is acting with another person with the intention to deceive. It is unacceptable to submit the work, or part of the work, of someone who studied the subject previously, even with their permission. It is also unacceptable to have someone else write any part of an assignment for you.

What is self- plagiarism?

Self-plagiarism, is also known as recycling fraud.  Self-plagiarism occurs when an author reuses text in subsequent writings without attributing the previous publication. For example where you pass off your own previous work for one unit as a piece of new work for another unit.  As a guideline, you cannot submit the same assignment (or parts thereof) twice. You will find that lecturers and tutors will not accept this, even if you reference your previous assignment. The reason for this is that previous assignments are normally not viewed as an acceptable academic reference source for your unit assignments. To make sure you do not accidentally self-plagiarise, and be penalised as a result, use Turnitin before submitting your assignment.

How do I avoid plagiarism and collusion?

In order to avoid plagiarism and collusion, you need to acknowledge the source of every idea, opinion, finding, quotation and piece of information in your assignments. You do this through referencing.This requirement applies equally to direct quotes, paraphrases and summaries.

A paraphrase is the rephrasing of a short passage from a source in your own words, changing the sentence structure and the vocabulary.  In a summary you identify the main points and record this in your own words. Summarising are paraphrasing are essential processes for learning because they require you to clarify your understanding. They can also show you where you are not quite clear about something.

You should always check your unit guide for specific referencing requirements for each assignment.

  • It is important to develop skills which will help you to avoid plagiarism and collusion in the papers you submit for assessment.
  • It is vital to understand the why and how of referencing.
  • You need to know how to discuss the ideas and findings of others using summary and paraphrase. You are also required to have an understanding of when and how to quote directly.
  • Taking notes in your own words is a good strategy because it requires that you understand the information, data and ideas from your sources and ensures that their words do not inadvertently find their way into your assignment.
  • Good time management and planning skills will help you complete assignments properly.
  • You need to understand what is expected of you in written assignments.

Consequences of plagiarism

Current consequences of plagiarism and/or collusion include:

  • a reprimand
  • a fine not exceeding $500
  • allocation of a zero mark for the task or another such mark, as appropriate
  • allocation of a zero mark for the unit or another such mark, as appropriate
  • a suspension from studies for up to one year
  • exclusion of the student for a minimum of one year.

You need to be aware of Deakin University's policy on plagiarism and collusion as well as the disciplinary consequences. The University's policy is available on The Guide.


Self Assessment

Test your knowledge on plagiarism and collusion.

  • Click here to log on to Unistart via CloudDeakin.
  • On the Unistart homepage, click on the Plagiarism and Collusion self assessment link.

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