What is plagiarism?


Plagiarism is becoming a very serious problem in South African universities. 

Plagiarism is academic theft.  If you use another person's ideas and pass them off as your own, then you are guilty of plagiarism. 

To prevent plagiarism, you need to acknowledge all sources that you use.


Why do people plagiarise?  Here are a few reasons:

1.  They are too lazy to think for themselves.

2.  They find the work difficult and it is therefore easier to merely copy out chunks of a book.

3.  They leave assignments to the last minute, and realise that it will be impossible to complete on time.


To avoid plagiarism, one needs therefore to understand the subject matter, and to work according to a schedule.  We suggest the following plan of action when confronted with an assignment.

1.  Start early:  do not leave the assignment to the last minute.

2.  Understand what it is you need to research.  Be clear about this. 

3.  Find material well in advance that is relevant.

4.  Break the material down.  Ask a friend, a tutor or even your lecturer if you do not understand something.  However: do not expect anyone to do the assignment for you.  Be respectful of this person's time and do not contact them at inopportune times.

5.  Plan your assignment - write as many rough drafts as possible.  A computer or word processor is useful in this regard.

6.  Write your assignment, taking care to acknowledge sources, both within the assignment and in the bibliography.

7.  Use your own words unless you are quoting.