Number. 7 © CDTL 2001
Plagiarism and How You Can Avoid It
Ms Christina Low
Former Publications Officer, CDTL

What is Plagiarism?

According to The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998), plagiarism is generally defined as “the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own”. In the context of academia, you would have committed an act of plagiarism if you have engaged in a verbatim reproduction or a paraphrase of someone else’s expression of ideas or intellectual work without proper acknowledgement of its source.

How Serious Is It?

Plagiarism in NUS, as in many educational institutions around the world, is treated as a serious offence. In NUS, it can result in any of the following penalties (Pan, 2001):

  • having no mark awarded for the assignment, project, academic exercise, or dissertation in question;
  • failing the relevant subject or course, with the possibility of not receiving any mark for it;
  • receiving the possible disciplinary actions for having violated Statute 25 (Discipline) of the Statutes and Regulations of the National University of Singapore*.

* available in the reference sections of every library on campus

How Can You Avoid It?

For example, you are quoting a segment from page 8 of the book Working with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman (1998). The first two instances below illustrate the correct way to do it:

A word-for-word quote enclosed in quotation marks with acknowledgement of the source (followed by proper documentation in the references or bibliography)
Emotional intelligence, as popularised by Goleman, is believed to be a more important factor of success in life than our IQ. More significantly, “our level of emotional intelligence is not fixed genetically, nor does it develop only in early childhood. Unlike IQ, which changes little after our teen years, emotional intelligence seems to be largely learned, and it continues to develop as we go through life and learn from our experiences—our competence in it can keep growing” (Goleman, 1998:8).

A paraphrase, also appropriately documented
Emotional intelligence, as popularised by Goleman, is believed to be a more important factor of success in life than our IQ. More significantly, its nature is quite unlike that of our IQ. It is not that heavily dependent on our genes or restricted by our formative years of learning; cultivating it is a continual process through life (Goleman, 1998:8).

However, if your citation is presented in the following ways, you are guilty of passing off his words as your own:

A verbatim reproduction of Goleman’s words without quotation marks and acknowledgement of the source
Emotional intelligence, as popularised by Goleman, is believed to be a more important factor of success than our IQ. More significantly, our level of emotional intelligence is not fixed genetically, nor does it develop only in early childhood. Unlike IQ, which changes little after our teen years, emotional intelligence seems to be largely learned, and it continues to develop as we go through life and learn from our experiences—our competence in it can keep growing.

A close paraphrase by mere removal and modification of a few words and re-arrangement of expressions
Emotional intelligence, as popularised by Goleman, is believed to be a more important factor of success than our IQ. More significantly, our emotional intelligence is not genetically fixed, or does it develop only in early childhood. Unlike IQ, it continues to develop as we go through life and learn from our experiences—it seems to be largely learned and our competence can keep growing (Goleman, 1998:8).

Whether you are intentional in passing off other’s work as your own or not, plagiarism is a form of theft; and ignorance is no excuse. When in doubt, you should check with your course lecturer or tutor about the matter, and also about your department or faculty’s preferences on citation practices.

 

References

———. 2001–2002 Rules and Regulations for Students and Student Organizations. Singapore: National University of Singapore, 2001.

———. Statutes and Regulations 1998–9. Singapore: National University of Singapore, 1998.

Goleman, Daniel. Working with Emotional Intelligence. New York: Bantam Books, 1998.

Holden, Philip. University Scholars Programme, National University of Singapore. Plagiarism. 2001. 16 October 2001. http://www.thecore.nus.edu.sg/literature/ccla01/essay_mechanics/plagiarism.html.

Pan, Daphne. Learning to Teach, Teaching to Learn: a handbook for NUS teachers (4th ed.). Singapore: Centre for Development of Teaching and Learning, National University of Singapore, 2001.

Pearsall, Judy (Ed.). The New Oxford Dictionary of English. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Writing Tutorial Services, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN. Plagiarism: What It is and How to Recognize and Avoid It. 8 October 2001. http://www.indiana.edu/~wts/wts/plagiarism.html.

 

 
 
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