Forms of Plagiarism

Plagiarism is presenting someone else's work as if you created and wrote it yourself. This work could be written text, images, artwork, computer code or mathematical formulas. If a student does not provide references to the source of the ideas or data they have used, then they are presenting someone else's work as if they are is their own. At university it is regarded as a type of cheating. Plagiarism can take many forms and may be designated a minor or major form of academic misconduct. See the Student Academic Misconduct Policy.

If a student undertakes any of the activities below without acknowledging the source of the materials, plagiarism has occurred:

  • Misusing resources
    • Copying or paraphrasing entire or parts of text, computer code, artwork, graphics or other material from a book, journal or other sources such as an Internet site or USQ study materials
    • Copying or paraphrasing parts of text, computer code, artwork, graphics or other material whether or not a few details are changed.
    • Misusing another student's work
      • Copying or paraphrasing another student's assignment in part or its entirety
      • Presenting a student's own assignment prepared for one course in another course.
      • Group work

          Collusion is a specific type of cheating that occurs when two or more students exceed a permitted level of collaboration between students on a piece of assessment. Identical layout, identical mistakes, identical argument and identical presentation in students' responses to a piece of assessment are evidence of collusion.

          Inherent in all of the examples listed above is the intention to deceive the lecturer and ultimately the University.

        • Copying from other group members
        • Contributing little or less to a group assignment and claiming an equal share of the marks.

        Self-plagiarism

        What is it?

        Self-plagiarism is defined as students reusing sections of previously submitted assignments in different courses. The extent to which this is considered acceptable or not, depends on the learning objectives of a particular course and/or program and how the assessment relates to those objectives.

        For example, in some courses and/or programs students reusing sections of previous assignments may be seen as good practice, because it might be necessary in cross-disciplinary settings and because it shows appropriate critical thinking about different applications of the same material. Indeed, some staff may actually encourage the practice as part of a meta-analysis of previous writing, which is then seen as engaging students in reflective practice.

        However, if the practice is deemed to be inappropriate in a particular course, then making changes to the assessment will most likely avoid the practice in the future.

        How to respond?

        The most important part of an appropriate response is to set out clear expectations in the assignment material and guidelines of a course, which clearly explain what is acceptable in this regard, or not.  For example, if the course examiner deems any form of self-plagiarism unacceptable, then the following statement should be added to the assignment cover sheet:

        • This is original work. No part of this assignment has been presented by me for assessment in any other course or subject at this or any other institution.

        Implications for the use of Turnitin

        Turnitin software picks up self-plagiarism without distinguishing it from regular plagiarism. This again means that clearly communicated expectations are most important. This includes markers who may respond to self-plagiarism in different ways, which has the potential to create confusion for students.

        Recent additions to Turnitin software now allow for an option to exclude small matches in Originality Reports to help streamline the process of evaluating your students' papers for unoriginal content. Course examiners can choose the size of excluded matches as a number of words (such as 8 or 11), or a percentage of all words in a paper (such as 4%). This means that if you use Turnitin in your course, you can specify a certain percentage of self-plagiarism that you deem to be acceptable.

        Another relevant addition in Turnitin is an expanded Similarity Index that shows multiple sources for highlighted matches in the Originality Report - not just a single possible source. Again, this allows course examiners to specify how much self-plagiarism is acceptable, if any.

        'How to' flyers 

        *This file is in Portable Document Format (PDF) which requires the use of Adobe Acrobat Reader. A free copy of Acrobat Reader may be obtained from  Adobe .