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“You should develop good note-taking skills to help prevent plagiarism. You should also understand how to quote from your original source, how to paraphrase, and how not to patchwrite. ”
To ensure your assessments are produced with integrity, you must ensure that what you submit is wholly your own work (unless a group assignment of course!). This page identifies the good study habits that can help you avoid engaging in unfair means or academic misconduct. It also lists some of the serious cheating infractions that you must avoid in producing your work.
To ensure your assessments are produced with integrity, you must ensure that what you submit is wholly your own work (unless a group assignment of course!). There are many good study habits you can use to ensure you don't engage in unfair means.
Creating good notes
Creating your own notes is an important part of academic study. It helps you organise information gathered during your reading and research. This makes it easier to write. It also can help you avoid plagiarism by allowing you to track details about the sources you use and which information came from which source. It is important to make it clear in your notes which bits are direct quotes, and which are your own words or ideas.
Paraphrasing and summarising
Paraphrasing means expressing an author’s ideas in your own words, by changing both the language and the sentence structure. Summarising also involves putting the author’s ideas into your own words, but summaries omit much of the detail.
Paraphrasing and summarising is not easy. In particular, it is impossible to paraphrase or summarise something you do not really understand. If you don't understand it, you will be overly dependent on the original words of your source. This can be a challenge for anyone studying a new subject or working in a second language.
You should take care to avoid patchwriting. Patchwriting occurs when a student paraphrases a passage but leaves it too similar to the original. In patchwriting, the writer may delete a few words, change the order, substitute synonyms and even change the grammatical structure, but the reliance on the original text is still visible when the two are compared.
If you are using the exact same words as someone else, you should use a quotation. To properly quote someone, you must both cite the source and use quotation marks (or indenting for longer passages) to indicate which words this applies to. Your citation should have a page number for the source of the quote. Quotations should be used sparingly. Lots of quotations patched with sparse narrative between them leaves little space for your argument and analysis. This is poor academic technique.
Your work, your words
You should not work too closely with others when producing an assessment as this can lead to collusion. Collusion involves receiving unauthorized help from tutors and friends in writing your essay. It is important to clarify with your tutor or lecturer what type of help (if any) is acceptable for a specific assignment. In particular, you should never share your plans, drafts or completed assignments with anyone else.
If you follow the rules above, you should find yourself easily avoiding plagiarism. Just remember that this also includes re-using work from previous summative assessments. See our page on integrity in writing for more information.
Use images responsibly
Images can be a great way to illustrate or evidence a point you are making. If images are not your own creation, you should make this clear in your work, using disciplinary conventions. Further advice on how to cite images can be found on Referencing your work guidance.
If images are used decoratively and make no academic contribution, you may find you do not need to cite them academically. You should, however, still attribute them as this is good academic practice. Find out more in this video:
Collusion is the unauthorised close working with others. This goes beyond just sharing sources or supporting your fellow students. Collusion involves close working with others to the extent that ideas, words and work are crossed between you - making it difficult to assert the final piece of work as entirely your own. Collusion can be between two or more students in the preparation and production of an assessment, which is then submitted by each of them individually as their own work. In particular, you should never share your plans, drafts or completed assignments with anyone else.
Collusion can also involve unauthorised help, such as getting a proofreader to make substantial changes to your work. See our guidance on proofreading for more information about what is and is not allowed.
Cheating in an exam involves either possessing or using materials prohibited in the examination venue and/or breaching any of the conditions outlined in the Examination Conduct Policy. This may include but is not limited to actions such as:
- Continuing to write after the invigilator has announced the end of the examination;
- Copying, or attempting to copy, from any other candidate during the examination;
- Communication of any kind with any other person other than an authorised invigilator or another member of staff during an examination;
- Possession of any written, printed or electronic materials in the examination room unless expressly permitted;
- Involvement in impersonation of another during an examination or other assessment event.
Contract cheating, essay mills and purchased essays
Contract cheating involves seeking to gain an advantage by incorporating material in work submitted for assessment that has been improved by, or commissioned, purchased or obtained from a third party e.g. family members, friends, essay mills or other students.
Some sections of this page are based upon a tutorial created by Simon Fraser University. This page is also based upon the University of Hull (2018) Regulations governing academic misconduct - but should not be used as a replacement for them.