How can I avoid plagiarism?

Effective note taking and appropriate citation and referencing are the keys to avoiding plagiarism.

Acknowledging others' ideas

Using other people's work (the ideas and information of scholars and researchers) to support your own is expected in tertiary education. Acknowledging the source of your support (where you got the ideas and information from) is referred to as citing the source. It is also called referencing because such a reference allows the reader to go to the source themselves.

Appropriate citation and referencing

Developing your referencing skills is one of the main ways of ensuring you are presenting your work correctly.

How do you ensure you present your work correctly and engage with the work of others? Give some thought to the best ways of keeping effective notes.

Effective note taking

In this example of note taking, notice how the student can simply incorporate her notes straight into the introduction her essay without having to rewrite from a long list of direct quotes.

Notice how the student has kept track of the source, how the author's ideas have been explained in her own words or clearly quoted, and you can tell when she is reflecting on the content herself.

Understanding Bourdieu (J. Webb, T. Shirato & G. Danaher, SAGE: London, 2002)

Note that the source details are given in full so it is easy to reconstruct the bibliography.

B has extended the work of Austin's speech act theory – indicating that it is important to see whose benefit it is that some things are legitimated. The authors offer the e.g. of the act of declaring people terrorists. In this case (using the B perspective), "a representative of the government, the legal system and the upper classes is in a position to evaluate certain behaviour (say, opposition to the government, the legal system and the upper classes) as 'terrorism'" (p.5). However, "terrorism is not an unequivocal or unchanging state, regardless of what 'legitimate authorities' say". The authors point out that terrorism can be reinterpreted as a struggle for freedom (as in the case of Nelson Mandela). The authors indicate that B has a politicising disposition.

The student has used "quotation" marks for the authors' words and provided the page number

[So, language use is arbitrary; other peoples' interpretation can become the prevailing reality, by whatever process. Given the arbitrary nature of language, it is therefore obviously subject to cultural/ power operations. I suppose control could therefore be wrested back.and language can therefore be used to manipulate, too…]

Her reflections and ideas separated from what she understands of the source, in this case using [parentheses]

The authors (in the context of explaining B's attitude to Nietzsche) explain what B means by ressentiment: the "transformation of a dominated or exploited state or condition into something positive or valuable" (p. xv). Therefore, there's a need to consider why a person is taking a particular perspective.

[Hence the transformation of women into servants, and the glorifying of this process. So, in my case I'd need to ask myself why I'm taking the particular perspective I am in my essay- maybe I just want to be right (about the process we follow as English teachers), and to have a rationale to back it up…]

Her reflections and ideas separated from what she understands of the source, in this case using [parentheses]

The authors also indicate that B "sees his… work as a means to an end- as changing or 'doing' things" (p. 8). They provide a great quote used by B from Wittgenstein; basically that there's no point in just talking about logic/ theory. It should "improve your thinking about the important questions of everyday life.[it should] make you more conscientious… in the use of the dangerous phrases [used by people] for their own ends" (p.8).

Ensuring quotations fit grammatically into her work

[This is a reflection of the rationale Pennycook/ Cummins/ et al. use to justify their encouraging of empowerment given their critical stance about English as a world language & its colonising effects- that you have to practise this, not just observe it; have to be active, not passive; need to be political, to transform. I expect it would be important to avoid replacing one reality with another, so the objective would be to reveal the iniquitous dimensions of a given 'reality', to expose the dimension of power. If it is thus revealed, perhaps a person would then be in a more informed position. But, is it enough just to reveal the dimensions, or does one actively encourage/ practise empowerment? The problem is that this could become just as oppressive- what if the students don't want it? So, maybe set things up so that the differences/ perspective is there if you want it… Is this legitimate? Yes, because language necessarily involves cultural aspects, which are a reflection of competing truths…]

Incorporating her understanding of the ideas of others'

Her reflections and ideas separated from what she understands of the source, in this case using [parentheses]

The Language and Learning Online resource on notetaking has more useful information on when and how to take notes. Look through tips on some alternative ways to develop your note taking skills and explore the use of visual mapping software.

What approaches have you taken to note taking in your research and study? Share your reflections and examples in an email to