Types of plagiarism – Copy/cut and paste

This can be an intentional or non-intentional act of plagiarism. It happens when you copy or cut a piece of work from any online or print item written by another person, and paste it into your assignment without acknowledging the source. You can include the exact words written by another person in your own work, but you must do this by quoting the words, and include a reference to the original work.

There is more information about citing and referencing other people’s work in section #.

Further explanation of what we mean

The following text is taken from the introduction to a journal article:

 ‘During the last fifteen years, there has been a steady change in emphasis from examination-based assessment to the continuous assessment of coursework. One of the prime reasons for this shift of emphasis has been the need to assess both subject-specific and generic skills in order to ensure fulfilment of learning outcomes, and the recognition that examinations often assess only a limited range of skills. Thus, an undergraduate programme in the Biosciences involves a variety of assessments such as essays, laboratory reports, posters, problem-based learning, projects and dissertations in addition to more formal examinations. The opportunity to plagiarise from books and journals in written coursework has always existed but the extensive development and use of the Internet as a source of learning materials has enabled students to download and plagiarise information much more easily.’

Source: Dawson, M. M. & Overfield, J. A. (2006) Plagiarism: do students know what it is? Bioscience Education. [Online] 8 (November). Available from: http://www.bioscience.heacademy.ac.uk/journal/vol8/beej-8-1.aspx[Accessed 11th June 2009].

You read this article, and decide that you want to include some of the information from this introduction in your own work. So you write the following sentence:

There are a number of reasons why coursework patterns have changed, including the need to assess both subject-specific and generic skills in order to ensure fulfilment of learning outcomes, and the recognition that examinations often assess only a limited range of skills.

You hand in your work. When it’s returned to you, your lecturer has highlighted this sentence and says you have plagiarised.

What has happened? Read the sentence and the introduction. This is clearly a case of plagiarism. The text has been directly copied from the article and pasted in to your work, with no acknowledgement.

To include someone else’s words, with the right kind of acknowledgement, your sentence should have been written like this:

There are a number of reasons why coursework patterns have changed, including the need to ‘assess both subject-specific and generic skills in order to ensure fulfilment of learning outcomes, and the recognition that examinations often assess only a limited range of skills’ (Dawson and Overfield, 2006: no page number).

The difference should be clear!

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