Springwood High School logo

Springwood High School

Springwood High School

A School for All

Telephone02 4751 2111


How not to plagiarise

Be aware of what constitutes plagiarism

Plagiarism is using the words or ideas of others and presenting them as your own. Many students plagiarise unintentionally. Unintentional plagiarism can result from not knowing how to acknowledge or incorporate sources of information, or from careless note-taking or 'cutting and pasting' of electronic sources

Plan your work

Plan ahead and begin writing your assignments well before they are due. Leaving work until the last minute doesn't give you enough time to read, digest, form your own ideas and write information in your own words. When students rush to meet a tight deadline, they are more likely to plagiarise unintentionally or succumb to the temptation to 'cut and paste' information directly from electronic resources.

Learn how to acknowledge your sources of information

The Golden Rule: Make sure your assignments are referenced correctly.

Referencing allows you to acknowledge the contribution of other writers in your work. Whenever you use words, ideas or information from other sources in your assignments, you must cite and reference those sources.

See APA or Harvard Referencing guides

Acknowledge ALL your sources

Academic books are not the only sources that require acknowledgement. ANY words, ideas or information taken from ANY source requires a reference.

What kind of information should I reference?

Reference when you are using words or ideas from:

  • books and journal articles;
  • newspapers and magazines;
  • pamphlets or brochures;
  • films, documentaries, television programs or advertisements;
  • web pages or computer-based resources;
  • letters or emails;
  • personal interviews;
  • Reference when you reprint any diagrams, illustrations, charts or pictures.

No Need to Reference

  • when you are writing your own observations or experiment results (for example, a report on a field trip);
  • when you are writing about your own experiences (for example, a reflective journal);
  • when you are writing your own thoughts, comments or conclusions in an assignment;
  • when you are evaluating or offering your own analysis;
  • when you are using 'common knowledge' (facts that can be found in numerous places and are likely to be known by a lot of people) or folklore;
  • when you are using generally accepted facts or information


Learn how to incorporate the work of others into your own work

In addition to knowing the rules for referencing your sources, and knowing what to reference, you also need to understand how to effectively integrate material in your writing. Knowing how to quote correctly from a source, and how to paraphrase and summarise the words and ideas of others can help you avoid plagiarism.

Writing in your own words: Summarising & Paraphrasing

You can integrate evidence/ source material into your assignments by summarising and paraphrasing. Summaries and paraphrases offer alternatives to using direct quotations.

  • A summary is an overview of a source, condensing it to its most important ideas.
  • A paraphrase is usually a short sections of text. It retains the meaning but uses different words.

Summarise or paraphrase in your own words and sentence patterns. Follow with a reference. However, just changing one or two words does not make a paraphrase; you must digest the ideas, understand them, and write them in your own words and phrasing.

Why writing in 'your own words' is important

Expressing information or ideas in your own words (by paraphrasing or summarising) demonstrates that you have understood, absorbed, and interpreted information..

 Use quotations correctly

A quotation is an exact reproduction of spoken or written words. When you want to reproduce someone's exact words in your work:

  1. present them between quotation marks and follow them with a citation.
  2. use quotation marks even when you borrow a phrase or a single, special word from another source.
  3. always include page numbers in your reference.

It can be helpful to introduce a quotation or paraphrase by using the author's name. This is known as Strong Author Referencing. For example, you can write, "According to White" followed by a quotation from White or your paraphrase or summary of White's ideas.


Learn to make effective notes from sources

Students often plagiarise unintentionally when they take 'word-for-word' notes from sources and then simply reproduce these in their assignments. To make sure that you don't accidentally plagiarise, take notes carefully. Develop a system to distinguish between what you have copied directly from a source, what you have noted in your own words, and your own comments about the material.

When you take notes from a source of information, use the split-page method

  • Divide your page into 3 columns.
  • Write the notes from a source in the first column
  • Record the page number(s) in the second column
  • The third column is where you write your comments, questions or ideas about the information. This allows you to distinguish between your ideas and the author's.

Before you begin to take notes, record the bibliographic information for the source at the top of the page

Carefully note which source the material comes from and all the information needed for referencing that source. You won't want to try to retrace your path to an Internet site or run back to the library the night before your paper is due just because you forgot to write down the necessary information the first time!

When taking notes from a source, try to write in your own words

Cover the original source, then relying on your memory, write a summary or paraphrase. Check your version with the original for accuracy and any phrases you may have accidentally reproduced. Put any unique words or phrases that you can't change into quotation marks. If you copy down the exact words from a source, make sure they are between quotation marks.

Use 'in-text' referencing in your notes

During note-taking, develop the habit of concluding each paragraph with the author's name and the page number between brackets. This will help you reference the information when you use it in an assignment

Guide prepared by the Learning Centre, University of New South Wales




Related content