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PREPARING FOR 3RD LEVEL: Ethical Use of Information

Information and Digital Literacy for 2nd level students preparing to enter 3rd level

Plagiarism and Referencing

We all like to use something to give us the edge when we are trying to achieve good grades in our assignments. Using other peoples thoughts, words, ideas, etc. can help us to do that however, we must give them credit for it otherwise you are committing the act of stealing or plagiarism.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the use of another's work (including your own previous work) without clearly indicating the source of the information. Another's work doesn't just mean their words it also covers their ideas, images, statistics, data, etc.

Plagiarism may be deliberate or accidental - you should avoid both types.

  • Deliberate plagiarism is when you  purposely set out to copy someone else’s work.
  • Accidental plagiarism is when you don’t correctly acknowledge someone else’s work, either because you didn’t know how to or you didn’t know you had to.

Writing in an academic context is different from writing in other situations. There are specific conventions of structure, style and content that your lecturer expects to see in your assignments. So it can be a  challenge at first.

Don't be tempted to take short cuts, always approach your academic writing with honesty and integrity.

You can achieve academic integrity through:

  • good academic writing
  • avoiding plagiarism
  • referencing and citing appropriately

So Whats the big deal...?

Why does academic integrity matter? Think about the following scenarios... (adapted from http://www.citewrite.qut.edu.au/academic_integrity/)


  • You are injured playing football and the nurse who treats you bought her essays instead of writing them.
  • She doesn’t know how to keep up with the latest research because she never learnt how to read the journals so she recommends old, outdated treatments.

  • You are an engineer whose best friend was always better at doing assignments so you relied on her throughout college to help you.
  • Now, two years out of college, you have been put in charge of a major project that could result in a big promotion.
  • But you don’t know how to go about getting it done. You know how to memorise for exams but you don’t know how to solve problems.

What is a reference list?

  • Referencing is acknowledging other people's work
  • Indicating where exactly all the information you are referring to is coming from

Why should I reference?

  • It avoids charges of plagiarism
  • Easy to trace
  • Shows how much research you have done
  • Helps to back up your arguments

What is plagiarism?

Who me...?

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