The most important attribute that the University of Melbourne would like to see in its graduates is a profound respect for truth, and for the ethics of scholarship...we want our graduates to be capable of independent thought, to be able to do their own work, and to know how to acknowledge the work of others. Professor Peter McPhee (Provost 2007-9)
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:
- Acknowledge any material that you use
- Use copyright material as permitted under copyright. There are provisions that cover the use of material for the purposes of study and research
- Visit the Copyright Office website or contact the Copyright Office if you need assistance.
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 (Creative works may include published and unpublished written documents, interpretations, computer software, designs, music, sounds, images, photographs, and ideas or ideological frameworks gained through working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.
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.
Examples of plagiarism
The following are examples of plagiarism where appropriate acknowledgement or referencing of the author or source does not occur:
- Copying directly (or allowing to be copied) paragraphs, sentences, a single sentence or significant parts of a sentence. An end reference without quotation marks around the copied text may also constitute plagiarism
- Copying ideas, concepts, research results, statistical tables, computer programs, designs, images, sounds or text or any combination of these
- Paraphrasing of another's work closely, with minor changes but with the essential meaning, form and/or progression of ideas maintained
- Relying on a specific idea or interpretation that is not one's own without identifying whose idea or interpretation it is
- Cutting or pasting statements from multiple sources or piecing together work of others and representing them as original work
- Presenting as independent, work done in collaboration with other people (eg, another student, a tutor)
- Submitting, as one's own, all or part of another student's original work
- Preparing an original and correctly referenced assignment and submitting part or all of the assignment twice for separate subjects or marks
- Cheating in an exam, either by copying from other students or by using unauthorised notes or aids.
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:
- Copies (or allows to be copied) from other members of a group while working in the group
- Copies the original work, in whole or in part, of an individual who is not a member of the group, with or without the knowledge of other members of the group, and contributes the plagiarised work to a group assignment
- Contributes less, little, or nothing to a group assignment and then claims an equal share of the work or marks
- Discusses with other members of the group how to approach a common assessment item that requires individual submissions and relies on the same or very similar approach in the submitted assessment, without any acknowledgement of collaboration with colleagues and without the permission of the assessor.
The University of Melbourne believes that excellence in teaching and learning can be achieved in an intellectual environment where academic integrity is highly valued and carefully upheld. Its policy on academic honesty and plagiarism is based on two core values:
- Education and awareness-raising are fundamental in advancing respect for truth and for the ethics of scholarship
- Work submitted for assessment purposes must be the independent work of students or approved groups of students to demonstrate their mastery of subject objectives.
Turnitin is online web-based text-matching software that works by comparing electronically submitted papers to billions of pages of content located on the Internet and proprietary databases as well as the work of other students whose papers have also been submitted into the system. This software is currently used by many universities in Australia and internationally. The University of Melbourne has been using this software since July 2004 and it is providing a valuable addition to existing methods for supporting the University's policy on academic honesty.
When student papers are submitted into Turnitin, sections of the papers that match other sources are highlighted and identified. The student paper with the highlighted matched text forms an Originality Report and is made available to the lecturer concerned.
Turnitin cannot make a judgement regarding whether plagiarism has occurred. It is the responsibility of the lecturer in charge of a subject to determine the quality of the Originality Report and to assess whether parts identified by Turnitin as non-original may be reasonably considered as plagiarism.
For further information about Turnitin go to the Turnitin web site.
Assignment Cover Sheet
The assignment cover sheet is an important tool encouraging students to acknowledge that their work complies with the University's rules of assessment and that assignments may be communicated to a plagiarism checking service. Whilst appropriate citation of original work will vary from discipline to discipline, the University recommends a standard cover sheet which includes some basic features.
Assignment cover sheets should contain two or more core sections and are required for hard copy and electronic assignment submissions. We recommend that they should be no longer than a single A4 page. They should include an administrative section, which may be amended to suit local needs of departments, centres and/or faculties. A student declaration section, as written in the attachment below, must be included. Submission may be in written form, as a signed assignment cover sheet, or electronically, via a 'click through' window in a restricted password protected university portal where students upload their assignments.