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Referencing & Plagiarism: Plagiarism

Using Sources & Academic Integrity

In your work you are expected to use the work of others as a way of developing your own ideas and arguments. No one writes an essay using only information that they know. Using the work and ideas of other people is an important part of academic writing as it shows that you have researched your area of study by looking at what is already known. You can also show that you understand how to use these sources to either support or challenge your own ideas, expanding on what you have found out in your research. Acknowledging this existing work is called attribution

Whether you use sources by using direct quotations, paraphrasing, or summaries images or graphs, you need to clearly explain where you have taken these words and ideas from. 

To ensure your work has academic integrity, you must reference any work you have used. Referencing allows the reader of your work to locate and, if necessary, check the evidence you have presented in your arguments, and follow up the lines of research you have used. Paying attention to academic integrity ensures that the work is submitted is your own. 

Understanding Plagiarism

There are different kinds of plagiarism, and they can be accidental. It is important to understand each one so you can avoid it. 

Plagiarism  the presentation of another person’s work or ideas as the student’s own, without proper acknowledgement 
Collusion  the unauthorised co-operation between at least two people, normally with the intent to deceive
Contract Cheating  the commissioning and submission of work as the student’s own
Fabrication  the invention, alteration or falsification of data and evidence that contributes towards assessment
Cheating  any behaviour which the student would reasonably know would interfere with the fair operation of the assessment process 
Failure to have ethical approval where students embark on research activities which require ethical approval without that approval being formally granted 


Plagiarism covers text, images, designs, computer code, diagrams, data or any other representation of ideas. It is defined as the presentation of another person’s work or ideas as the student’s own, without proper acknowledgement.

Plagiarism can be accidental - one area to pay attention to is close paraphrase. Weak paraphrasing is sometimes called word switching – this is where some words are swapped for synonyms, but the sentence structure remains the same. If you are unsure how to paraphrase correctly, start here.  

Contract cheating is the commissioning and submission of work as the student’s own, including sections of work that are improved by third parties, either for payment or for free.

Chat GTP is one of many chatbots, artificial intelligence programmes, which can produce written work from a prompt. Like an essay mill, the quality of the work is often dubious and can demonstrate no learning or understanding on the part of the student. 

Below is a matching exercise for you to test your own knowledge. Do not worry if you get any of these wrong, just ensure you do understand the differences before moving on. You can always refer back to the previous page if you get stuck.



When you submit an assignment at the University of Suffolk, it will be run through the Turnitin system. This is a tool that supports staff and students by matching students' work against a database of essays, journals, books and websites. Turnitin produces a Similarity Report giving a percentage score of ‘similarity’ with other texts. This can help students to understand how and where you might want to revisit your referencing or paraphrasing. 

Students can submit a draft where you can see this score for yourself – the number of times that you can do this before a final submission depends on what level you are studying at. To help you understand this process, we recommend visiting and reviewing the following two guides: 

 Turnitin helps us ensure we respect one aspect of academic integrity: that we acknowledge other people's work in our assignments. 


Additional ways to improve your work 

There are a number of additional ways by which you can improve your work after completing a first draft, but before you submit to Turnitin: revising, proofreading, editing. 

Further Reading