Each academic discipline has its own way of looking, speaking and writing about its world. Navigating your path through these different worlds takes time and a great deal of work; it is part of why you are asked to write assignments. These exercises are designed to develop skills and understanding that are valued by members of a discipline. One of these skills is referencing and the failure to master this can result in ‘falling off’ the path, or plagiarising.
In most university assignments it is important not only to show what you know but, more importantly, how you know it. You need to demonstrate what texts have influenced your understanding and also where your readers can find them if they are interested in pursuing your ideas.
Accurate referencing skills are highly valued by everyone in the university community. These are broken into two parts: first, in text citations, found within your writing, and second, the Reference List, placed at the end of your work. In text citations, or in text references, are where you identify and acknowledge how you know something and whose ideas are in your written text. The diagram below demonstrates how citations play important roles in academic practice.
|Citations recognise and acknowledge the intellectual property rights of authors. They are a matter of ethics and a defence against plagiarism.|
|Citations operate as a kind of mutual reward system. Rather than pay other authors for their contributions, writers ‘pay’ them in citations (Ravetz 1971).|
|Citations are tools of persuasion: writers use citations to give their statements greater authority (Gilbert 1977).|
|Citations supply evidence that the author qualifies as a member of the chosen scholarly community; citations are used to demonstrate familiarity with the field (Bavelas 1978).|
|Citations show respect to previous scholars. They recognise the history of the field by acknowledging previous achievements.|
|Citations create a research space for the citing author. By describing what has been done, citations point the way to what has not been done and so prepare a space for new research (Swales 1990).|
Plagiarism is presenting the thoughts or work of others as your own; it is a type of intellectual theft. Plagiarism can take many forms, from deliberate cheating to accidentally copying from a source without acknowledgement. Consequently, whenever you use the words or ideas of another person in your work, you must acknowledge where they came from.
One of the contradictions of academic writing is that while you are expected to research and refer to experts and authorities, you are also expected to produce original work. This is based on the assumption that you are very clear about your own ideas and about how others have influenced your understanding.
It is important to recognise that all scholarship involves understanding, researching and expanding on the work of others to some degree. Undergraduates, for instance, may base their original contribution on selecting, ordering, summarising and interpreting what others have said to support their own academic argument. Therefore, it is important to learn how to reference well; that is, how to specify what your debts are and acknowledge them in your work. Then your own contribution can be clearly identified and appreciated.
|Collusion||This is working with others but passing the work off as your own. It also includes buying, stealing or borrow an assignment and submitting it as your own or downloading an assignment from an online source.|
|Copying a section of a book, article or electronic source and submitting it as your own.||Quoting from a source ‘word for word’ without using quotation marks is plagiarism.|
|Inappropriate paraphrasing skills, resulting in copying the written expression of someone else without acknowledgement||
Lifting sentences or paragraphs from someone else, even with proper acknowledgement, gives the impression that the idea or information comes from the source cited, but that the phrasing, the choice of words to express it, is your own.
|Relying too much on other people’s material||You should avoid the repeated use of long quotations. Too many direct quotations (even within quotation marks and with correct acknowledgement) result in your sources speaking for you, which means that your contribution is minimal. Use your own words more and rely less on quotations.|
|Duplication of previously submitted work.||Duplicating work that you have handed in for another course, in part or in whole, is considered plagiarism.|