What is 'Plagiarism' and why is it an issue?
Imagine you found out that someone had copied your work and was passing it off as their own. Imagine how you would then feel if you found out that that person had gained praise and credit for using your work. You may feel as though you have had your ideas stolen. What has actually happened is that you would have been a victim of PLAGIARISM. In its crudest form, plagiarism is theft - the theft of somebody else's work and ideas.
The dictionary explains plagiarism as:
Plagiarise1 to pass off another's ideas, writings, or inventions as one's own
plagiarism n., the act of plagiarizing
plagiarist n. to be one who has plagiarised
(Oxford University Press (2001) Oxford Popular English Dictionary Oxford University Press. Oxford. p. 613)
Plagiarism is not just the use of written work, it can also include drawings, design work, in fact anything that has been created by somebody else.
Plagiarism is taken very seriously in colleges and universities, and here at Cleveland College of Art and Design we follow the same norms and academic policies as everyone else. You will find a statement referring to plagiarism in the college's own guidelines and regulation on plagiarism, and you will see that the college clearly defines this as the deliberate incorporation of another's work in an assessment without proper acknowledgement. Proper acknowledgement means that when you are copying from another source, that section must appear in quotation marks with an acknowledgement of the source by the provision of a detailed reference and page number. Where you are reproducing someone's ideas, but in your own words to a greater or lesser extent (or paraphrasing), you must cite the original source and page number.
What you need to be aware of is the fact that lecturers are continually engaging with the work of others. They are constantly reading texts, attending lectures and seminars, and relating to other academics in conferences and visiting lectures. To put it simply, we understand the work of our colleagues, and we recognise it.
As writers and researchers, lecturers of course use the words and ideas of others, however they acknowledge written work and ideas at all times. Credit has to be given where it is due, and we expect that from our students.
Plagiarism is cheating and theft and is easy to spot, and whether it is done deliberately or without any intent, the same issues apply. The most common forms of plagiarism are:
The direct copying of material (text, visual and audio)
Copying sections from other people's work with out reference to where it has come from
Quoting from others work without appropriate referencing
Collusion - this is where a student copies another student's work and submits it for assessment as their own
How can you avoid written plagiarism yourself?:
The answer is simple; acknowledge the words and ideas of others at all times. Use the referencing system as referred to on this site. Remember, plagiarism is:
Using the work, words, ideas etc of another person, and presenting these as your own work2
Copying word-for-word from a book and not referencing it correctly3
Copying word-for-word from a book and pretending it is your work
Using material such as lecture material and including it in your work without reference to the source
Down-loading material from the Internet and presenting it in any form, as your own work
Any unintentional use of another's work, that is incorrectly or inadequately referenced, or is un-referenced
Paraphrasing4 of any kind
Students often make the mistake of plagiarising without any real intent to deceive; this is still plagiarism and the same academic policies will be applied to instances where students have plagiarised even if this is purely unintentional and purely by mistake.
Avoid plagiarism by approaching your research in a professional manner. When you are taking notes for your essay, do not write down what the writer is saying, but what you have discovered by reading the text. If you find a section of text in a book that says exactly what you want to say, and you think that you would like to use that section of text to back up your argument, quote from the book and include the quote in your debate.
One important issue that students become confused with is how would you use a recognised fact in your own work? If the fact is obvious, for example, the year 2002 saw Britain celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee, then there is no reason why you should have any difficulty saying so in your written work - the fact is well known and does not involve anybody's Intellectual Property5. If however, you find a piece of information in a book, and you decide to use that idea, you must acknowledge where you found that idea.
Plagiarism and the Internet:
It has become increasingly common for students to submit work that includes information or material downloaded from the Internet. This has become ever more problematic for colleges and universities because the Internet is so vast and finding where the material is taken from used to be almost impossible. However this is no longer so; College's and universities now use computer software packages that can find and retrieve any Internet material that has been used in a student's written assignment - all we need to do is type in a sentence from your work and if it has come from anywhere on the internet, we will be informed where it is and when it was downloaded.
Remember - submitting work for assessment that is not your own work is plagiarism, and this includes any material downloaded from the internet. You must reference any material you use from web sites etc, the same way as you would reference material gained from books.
Plagiarism and Studio Work:
Visual plagiarism in art and design is more and more common. There are a number of high profile cases where designers are taking legal action against companies that have copied their work. Whilst visual plagiarism is rife in certain sections of the industry, this is going to change in the future, as governments pass legislation to protect Intellectual Property. At CCAD, we take a strong moral stance against any form of plagiarism, and whether or not it occurs in the 'real world', we DO NOT accept it in our institution. It is therefore important that you do not use anybody elses work or ideas in your own studio work. Full guidance on Visual Plagiarism is found on the Visual Plagiarism PowerPoint.
For those of you studying film and TV programmes, it is worth noting that Audio Plagiarism is becoming a 'hot topic' in your industry. The use of sound effects, music and dialogue are all covered in new Intellectual Property legislation, therefore it is crucial that you DO NOT use the work of others in your own. Full guidance on Visual Plagiarism is found on the Audio Plagiarism PowerPoint.
What happens if you are found to have plagiarised?
The college now expects that all essays and dissertations are uploaded onto an anti-plagiarism programme called Turnitin. The lecturers involved in assessing your work will be sent a report from Turnitin, which highlights to any instances of plagiarism.
Penalties are stringent and are applied according to the agreed regulations of the College and the validating partner. At levels one and two you could be awarded nil for the module in question or you could be allowed to re-submit the work with the maximum mark awarded being 40%; final decisions lay with the assessment board. At level three, if plagiarism is found, you may be awarded nil for the module in question, and removed from the programme immediately. Final decisions again lay with the assessment board.
You may have noticed in the press that plagiarism is becoming a major issue in college's and universities. Some institutions are finding that up to 40% of student's work is plagiarised to some extent. The academic sector is now fighting back, and recently a number of on-line tools have been developed that identify any instances of plagiarism. For example, an essay is copied and sent to companies such as 'Turnitin' or to academic sites such as 'JISC' and in an instant any sections of that essay which have been plagiarised will be highlighted and the lecturer notified in a report where the work has been copied from.
Thankfully, instances of plagiarism at CCAD are rare. When it does happen it is always discovered. The vast majority of students wish to leave with the confidence that their degree is based on their learning and achievements.
Lecturers have a responsibility to make sure that the assignments you submit show evidence of your learning, so work that is your own proves that you are aware of the issues and that you understand material that is being given to you. The one sure way of avoiding plagiarism is don't do it; make sure that you refer to your guide books so that you will always be confident that you have used the ideas and work of others correctly.
Don't leave your research and writing until the last minute - students often find themselves with an essay to submit and that they have not done any of the work. As the deadline approaches it is common for students to panic and quickly write an essay based on what they have been able to find through reading and copying. Avoid this approach by tackling the assignment early, and managing your time effectively. This way you will be able to do the research and writing in small bursts rather than in one quick effort the night before submission. You can also get the LRC staff to check your work for any grammatical, spelling or prose issues. The staff in the LRC will highlight any material that appears to be of concern.
The following examples contain plagiarised text
The original text:
Recently a number of important publications have provided analysis of the objects of desire that appeared in country houses during the 18th century. Both Dana Arnold and Michael Christie have of late, published works that follow on from Girouard's social study of the country house. However, like Girouard, the architecture and the art displayed within the house provide the 'traditional' focus for both research and debate.
In this traditional pattern of research, the architect or patron is presented as the rationale behind the appearance of specific houses. When the architect is studied, the country house debate takes on the characteristics of that architect. When the patron is the focus, the house is seen as an extension of that figure's quality. Conventional architectural studies imply that the country house evolved through either the development of the designer, or the stylistic whims of the patron; the architecture still plays an important lead in this instance.
Example 1: the plagiarised text 1:
Recently a number of important books on country houses have provided analysis of the objects of desire that appeared in country houses during the 18th century. Both Dana Arnold and Michael Christie have of late, published works that follow on from Girouard's study of the country house.
Usually the architect or patron is presented as the rationale behind the appearance of specific houses. When the architect is studied, the country house debate takes on the characteristics of that architect. When the patron is the focus, the house is seen as an extension of that figure's quality. Conventional architectural studies imply that the country house evolved through either the development of the designer, or the stylistic whims of the patron; the architecture still plays an important lead in this instance.
When compared with the original text, you will see from the text highlighted in red that the writer has used sections of text word-for-word without reference to the source- this is Plagiarism!
Example 2: the paraphrased text:
Recently a number of crucial books have focused on the display of objects that appeared in country houses during the 18th century. The historians Dana Arnold and Michael Christie have published books that continue with Girouard's study of the country house. Like Girouard, Arnold and Christie look at the architecture and the art displayed within the house, resulting in another similar focus for both research and debate.
In this pattern of research, the architect is shown to be the reasoning behind the style of the house. For example, when the architect is studied...
You will see that in comparison, the text may be different, however the writer has basically put Stringer's ideas and words into their own language and passed this off as their own research - this is a version of Plagiarism!
Example 4: the non-plagiarised text:
For example, in his most recent work, the architectural historian Christopher Stringer states that:
'In this traditional pattern of research, the architect or patron is presented as the rationale behind the appearance of specific houses. When the architect is studied, the country house debate takes on the characteristics of that architect. When the patron is the focus, the house is seen as an extension of that figure's quality. Conventional architectural studies imply that the country house evolved through either the development of the designer, or the stylistic whims of the patron; the architecture still plays an important lead in this instance'6
He goes on to explain the logic behind his criticism, by focussing on Castle Howard as an example. Both Dana Arnold and Michael Christie have recently published works that concentrate on the 18th century country house, however when compared with the work of Stringer, I would argue that...
You will see from this example that the writer has used the words of Stringer; however these have been referenced at the bottom of the page. The writer has used these ideas to form their own, and as you will see the works of other writers have been mentioned, and will be used to portray the ideas and concepts of the writer. The work uses but acknowledges the work of Stringer, however it does not rely purely on Stringer for the debate - This is not Plagiarism!
1 'Plagiarise' is sometimes spelt with a 'z' - i.e. 'Plagiarize' - this is the same thing
2 Plagiarism is also submitting drawings, designs, photographs or any other piece of work that is not yours
3 This includes work from magazines, the internet, journals, and work written by other students at other times
4 Paraphrasing is taking text from source and merely writing it in your own words without any reference to where the ideas and material came from - this is considered part of the plagiarism process
5 Intellectual Property is accepted to be that which is the result of a person's own ideas, concepts and original thoughts. Intellectual property is found in the writings of historians and critics, in lectures and seminars, and in any information that is the result of intellectual processes
6 STRINGER, C. 18th Century Houses p.19