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School of Social and Political Science: Undergraduate study


Referencing and avoiding plagiarism


At University you are expected to read and research, and then to use ideas, information, data and a range of other sources in your own academic work and assignments. However, it is important to make aboslutely clear where each idea of peice of information comes from by referencing it (giving your sources) in your own work.

What is plagiarism?

In very simple terms, plagiarism is creating the impression that something is your own idea or your own work when it is not.  Plagiarism is a form of academic misconduct.  It can be deliberate or unintentional so it is important to learn how to reference properly.

What is plagiarism (PDF) What is plagiarism? (Word rtf)

Submitting work you have previously turned in for credit is known as self-plagiarism, and is viewed in the same way as using another author’s work without proper reference.

You should also read the University of Edinburgh’s official guidance on plagiarism:

Plagiarism guidance (Academic Services)

Referencing systems

Different academic subjects use different referencing systems so make sure you know which one is used for each course you take. You should be able to find this information in your course handbook but if you are unsure, ask someone who teaches you.

A useful guide to several of the main referencing systems can be found online at:

Cite them right

Information Services provide access to Cite them right online via a subscription and you may need to login using EASE. 

Duplication of Coursework (or 'self-plagiarism'): 

Students are not allowed to submit the same piece of work for more than one unit of assessment in their programme of study, nor are students allowed to submit for assessment work submitted at another institution.  This is not 'plagiarism' by the definition above, but it is academic misconduct nonetheless.  Each piece of writing submitted for assessment should be a substantially original piece of work produced specifically for that unit of assessment.  It may occasionally be appropriate to have quite similar short passages in separate pieces of assessment, conveying more general or background points the two pieces have in common, in which case the student should do their best to rephrase the material, and limit any verbatim passages to a few sentences (no more than 100 words).  Apart from this, students should avoid any duplication of previously submitted coursework.  As electronic submission of coursework and its processing through Turnitin (plagiarism detection software) becomes more standard, instances of self-duplication will be easily identified.  If it is found that a substantial portion of an essay duplicates work previously submitted for assessment, the work will be referred to the School Academic Misconduct Officer, penalties could be imposed on that piece of work, and the student could be subject to disciplinary action.

Definition and Disciplinary Procedures

All University degrees and other academic awards are given in recognition of the candidate's personal achievement. Plagiarism is taken very seriously, at any stage, whether discovered before or after graduation. It will be investigated and dealt with appropriately by the University. If after investigation it is established that work submitted for assessment has been plagiarised to a significant extent, that fact will be permanently noted on a candidate's record.

Every piece of work submitted must be accompanied by a cover sheet that includes a signed plagiarism statement.  Plagiarism is regarded as a serious matter - it is a form of cheating and intellectual theft - and may result in a mark of zero being given for the submitted work. Where there is evidence of an intention to deceive, further penalties may be imposed by the Board of Examiners (such as failure of the course)


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