What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the act of representing as one's own original work the creative works of another, without appropriate acknowledgment of the author or source. (Creative works may include published and unpublished written documents, interpretations, computer software, designs, music, sounds, images, photographs, and ideas or ideological frameworks gained through working with another person or in a group. These works may be in print and/or electronic media.)

What is collusion?

Collusion is the presentation by a student of an assignment as his or her own which is in fact the result in whole or in part of unauthorised collaboration with another person or persons. Collusion involves the cooperation of two or more students in plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct. Both the student presenting the assignment and the student(s) willingly supplying unauthorised material (colluders) are considered participants in the act of academic misconduct.

Examples of plagiarism

The following are examples of plagiarism where appropriate acknowledgement or referencing of the author or source does not occur:

Plagiarism and collusion in group work

Plagiarism and collusion in group work are forms of academic misconduct and can occur when one or more students:

Why is plagiarism so serious?

As outlined above, plagiarism is taking and presenting the thoughts, writings, etc, of other people as your own. In not crediting the source, a person is guilty of intellectual fraud. It is unacceptable at all times; it is completely unacceptable at the University of Melbourne.

If a student is found to have deliberately plagiarised the work of another - including copying the work of other students - the penalties are severe.

Sometimes a student might accidentally plagiarise. This is usually the result of a lack of academic writing skills, inexperience, sloppy note taking, or a combination of these. It is important that you learn and follow the practice established for citation of written works for your subject.

See the advice to students page for further information.

Plagiarism and copyright

Copyright does not protect ideas or information, only how they are expressed in material form such as a book, journal article, image, film or sound recording. Copyright is infringed if an author or creator's work is reproduced or used without their permission. However, there are provisions in the Copyright Act that allow copyright material to be used without permission from the copyright owner, for example quoting a few lines or a paragraph from a book or journal article. Copyright law requires that you acknowledge any material that you use.

Plagiarism occurs if you use information or someone else's ideas without acknowledgment, and is not necessarily the same as infringing copyright. If you express someone else's idea or information in your own words, you will not have infringed copyright.

It is important that you do not infringe copyright as copyright owners can take legal action against you. You can also be subject to action from the University. To avoid plagiarism and infringing copyright make sure that you: