Understanding how the Similarity Checker tool works, and why having similarity matches within a piece of text may be okay or problematic due to how work has been quoted, paraphrased, or referenced within the text, helps you to better understand the policy of academic integrity and what is considered plagiarism. Academic integrity is a fundamental aspect of university education as it means upholding good academic practices and shared values which ensure that any work produced by a student is a true expression of their own understanding and idea, with credit being given to others who have shaped and influenced this understanding and ideas. This series of values helps to ensure honesty and fairness by ensuring it is clear how the hard work of other academics has helped to influence you. In order to maintain academic integrity, it is the responsibility of students to ensure they only submit work that is their own and to ensure that information within this work clearly references where ideas and data has come from. Further guidance on academic integrity is available within this Essential Academic Writing Skills course.
By not following the rules of academic integrity, you are at risk of committing academic misconduct, which consists of a number of academic offences that a student might commit. Plagiarism is one common form of academic misconduct, which is often defined as the representation of another person’s work as your own, without acknowledging the source.
Plagiarism can take the following forms:
- Direct copying from texts without acknowledging your source – e.g. direct quotations should have a full reference and be in inverted commas
- Paraphrasing (rewording) or summarising other people’s work without acknowledging your source – you must give the reference from which your summary/paraphrase is taken
- Both of the above points also apply to material taken from the internet – if you use material from the internet you must reference the website from which you obtained the material.
It is important for students to understand what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it as by failing to acknowledge others’ work or ideas you can be guilty of pietism even if you did not intent to imply that a piece of work was your own. Plagiarism can have serious consequences, including failing an assignment or course, academic probation, or even expulsion.
To maintain academic integrity, and avoid plagiarism, you should use the Similarity Report within Draft Coach after you have already properly paraphrased the content you are referencing and correctly cited this material, rather than relying on it to do the work for you. The Similarity Reports is a reviewing tool to ensure that the piece of writing you are producing is original and properly cited, not a tool to cite or reference for you. Remember to always properly cite any sources used in your writing, including quotes and paraphrases, and to seek help if you are unsure about how to properly cite a source.
If you want to find out more about how using the Similarity Checkers produced within Turnitin systems can help reduce the risk of plagiarism you can read this webpage. Additionally, you can access information about the university’s policies on plagiarism and academic misconduct, as well as e-learning to help you to better understand academic integrity.
A number of resources are available that can help you to understand how to effectively use academic sources, paraphrase and quote from the information found within, and how to ensure you are avoiding plagiarism within your writing. If you would like to discuss the process of effectively citing information and referencing the content alongside fellow students then you can visit the Writing Café.