Plagiarism is considered a serious offence during your time at uni. There have been many instances where students don’t intend to plagiarise but have accidentally done so, and the consequences may lead to failing the unit or being expelled. More recently, plagiarism detection software's like Turnitin and Unicheck has made it easier for educators and lecturers to detect plagiarism.
Here are some of the first steps you’ll need to take to avoid committing plagiarism.
Plan your work ahead of time
It’s likely that some of your assignments from different subjects are due the same time and it’s crucial to plan ahead and make sure you get a head start of your assignments. Be sure to start your assignments as early as possible so you have enough time to complete all your assignments. Sometimes, students may need extra time to complete an assignment due to unforeseen circumstances. If you feel like you’re running out of time, you can apply for special consideration and seek an extension. However, this only applies in serious circumstances.
Get to know your referencing style
There are plenty of different referencing styles, such as the Harvard system, Oxford style guide to Australian Guide to Legal Citation (AGLC) — what style you use will depend on your discipline. At the beginning of the course or unit, you should be told what style to use — if you’re unsure, double check with your lecturer. Each referencing style has rules on how to acknowledge the author correctly. Whenever you start referencing, be sure to record all the details of what literature you’re using. This will back up your research findings and it won’t look like you’re intentionally plagiarising. Once you’ve got all that, citing your work is much easier.
Make sure you’re using your own words
Copying from others or paying someone to do your assignment is never an option. You should also try your best to refrain from checking your friends’ or groupmate’s assignment — it may lead to accidental plagiarism and the possible consequences you’ll face include a failing or a poor academic record.
Paraphrasing is basically summarising the ideas of a scholar in your own words. But if not used properly, it can be considered plagiarism. You can’t rewrite an author’s original sentence unless you are quoting them correctly. If you’re unsure about how to paraphrase, try visiting your institution’s website or library for resources on how to acknowledge your sources correctly.