Professor Paul Singh shares his thoughts on plagiarism

Professor Paul Singh, Academic & Supervisor at The Da Vinci Institute, shares his thoughts on plagiarism and shares some tips to avoiding it…

The magical words of the famous author, J.K. Rowling are so applicable to all students and researchers, especially regarding acknowledging their sources when submitting assignments and research: “There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction. The moment you are old enough to take the wheel, the responsibility lies with you”.


What is plagiarism?

Simply put, plagiarism is taking someone else’s work, ideas, thoughts, pictures, charts, music, graphics, videos, etc.) and passing it off as your own. There is too much information on almost any topic available electronically, and many students feel tempted to cut and paste content without acknowledging the source. This usually happens when students refer to the internet, blogs, websites, movies, or any other media.

Sometimes it is deliberate, and at other times it may happen unintentionally. In both cases, it violates declarations and policies which prohibit plagiarism. You must give credit where credit is due. This will also ensure that your own work is honestly yours and upholds academic integrity.


When does it happen?

  • When you copy someone else’s work, word-for-word.
  • When you fail to correctly or fully cite a source.
  • When you copy your own work done previously and self-plagiarise.
  • When you paraphrase the work of others poorly.
  • When you quote from an interview or dialogue without giving the source.
  • When you mix paraphrased and copied material from different sources.


Why does it matter?

Passing of someone else’s work as your own amounts to dishonesty. You violate the authenticity declaration you sign at the beginning of your assignment or research document. You also violate The Da Vinci Plagiarism Policy.

It is your responsibility to read and fully understand the provisions of this policy and what the consequences for ignoring them will be. There are multiple ways that your lecturers, research supervisors and quality assurers at Da Vinci pick up words or ideas that are not your own.


How to cut it out?

Avoid simply cutting and pasting content and always cite your source. Concurrently, avoid doing last-minute-work – when under pressure, you can make poor choices. Furthermore, ensure you cite sources when you quote, and paraphrase or summarise others’ work. Constant vigilance is your best defence against allegations of plagiarism. If in doubt, cite it.