Plagiarism occurs when academic integrity principles are not followed. Plagiarism can take a range of forms, from accidental through to deliberate actions. Accidental plagiarism might occur if you run out of time to write an assignment and neglect to put references in your work. Deliberate plagiarism, also known as academic misconduct, might involve paying someone else to write your assignment for you, or cheating to pass an exam. Figure 1 shows the scale of accidental through to deliberate acts of plagiarism.

Plagiarism occurs for a number of reasons. In most cases, poor time management is a contributing factor. Other reasons include incomplete note-taking, not understanding paraphrasing techniques, lack of confidence in writing, or a lack of familiarity with referencing.

Avoiding plagiarism

Academic Skills can help students to avoid plagiarism. We have webpages on time management, reading and note-taking strategies, writing, referencing, and paraphrasing. We have a self-enrol Turnitin practice site where you can check your own work before you submit it to your lecturers. You can also book an appointment to talk to someone about any of these or other study-related topics.

Common reasons for plagiarism

How to avoid

Running out of time to double check the research before submitting an assignment

Use effective time management strategies

Relying on incomplete notes

Make use of the reading and note-taking strategies available

Neglecting to do enough research, or putting it off until it's too late to start researching

Follow the advice on writing assignments and time management

Misinterpreting the question and researching irrelevant information. In this situation, someone might fabricate the ideas to make up for gaps in their knowledge

See the advice on writing, and seek help from your tutor, lecturer and Academic Skills

Insufficient paraphrasing

Check out the information on using sources, and make use of the Turnitin practice site.

Incorrect referencing

See the information on referencing

Working too closely with another person on an individual task

Follow the advice given in our page on collusion. Also see our pages on writing to find out how to approach your work

Consequences of plagiarism

At ANU, plagiarism is dealt with in a variety of ways depending on the circumstances of the case. Deliberate academic misconduct is a very serious situation and may lead to expulsion from the university. If it is an accidental case and it is the first time, it may be that the student has a chat with the lecturer and Academic Skills.

If you receive an email saying there is a potential issue with academic misconduct, plagiarism, or poor practice in your work, take the time to read the email carefully and respond calmly. If something is unclear, seek clarification from your lecturer. You can also seek help from Academic Skills, ANUSA or PARSA.