Let’s talk about plagiarism

Along with improving your English our Academic Preparation Program teaches you what to expect in an Australian university. One thing that can be quite different to what you may be used to in your own country is how you acknowledge the ideas in your writing. Australian universities have rules about the ways your present your research so today we wanted to cover these to help you get a clearer understanding of expectations. 

When you present ideas that you have discovered from reading or research you must make it clear where you have found this information or the reader may think you are suggesting these are your own unique ideas. Using someone else’s ideas without acknowledging the original author is called plagiarism. There are many types of plagiarism but they have one central theme: it is the act of copying some else’s work and trying to pass it off as your own.

Why is it important to avoid plagiarism?

Apart from taking credit for someone else’s ideas and hard work, plagiarism can have greater consequences than just failing your assignment or course.

You could face academic probation or expulsion, and this academic misconduct could be permanently on your academic record.


So let’s talk a bit about the types of plagiarism.

Direct plagiarism

Your English assignment is due today but you are not even close to finishing. You find an article online that is exactly what the teacher has asked for, so you copy and paste and submit it as your original work. It is better to submit something than not at all, right? Wrong. This is an example of direct plagiarism.

Mosaic plagiarism

It is a few days before your deadline but you do not have time to do all the research required for your report. You find a few relevant articles and take a paragraph from each, and you change a few words so that it looks a little different, but the overall structure is the same. This is a form of plagiarism called mosaic plagiarism. It is important to write your assignment in your own words or reference the ideas and concepts that you have taken directly from the research sources.

For more information see our posts paraphrasing and referencing.


Your teacher has asked you to write a paper on a topic you have previously written about. How convenient! You can just submit exactly the same paper, right? This is a type of plagiarism called self-plagiarism. It is acceptable to use overlapping themes, arguments and research sources, but the paper you submit should be significantly different from your previous papers.

Accidental plagiarism

You have been reading so much that you have started to memorise articles. When it comes to writing your assignment, you do not realise that you have accidentally plagiarised someone else’s work that you have subconsciously committed to memory. While it was not intended, this form of plagiarism is taken as seriously as any other type of plagiarism and is subject to the same consequences. As a student, it is your responsibility to make sure you cite your sources and take careful and accurate notes while doing research.


The root of the problem?

If you feel the pressure to plagiarise because you are struggling with assignments, cannot think of original ideas, or cannot keep up with an ever-increasing workload, there are people that you can talk to about the problems you are experiencing. Your teachers and Student Services team are here to help and have many useful tips on how to manage your responsibilities as a student.