The SRC can give you advice if you have been accused of plagiarism, which is the offence of passing off someone else’s work as your own. Plagiarism is something the University considers a very serious breach of discipline, and it is important that you know what it is and what might happen if you are accused of it.
What is plagiarism?
The University’s Plagiarism Statement defines it as follows:
“Work may be considered to be plagiarised if it consists of:
- a direct quotation;
- a close paraphrase;
- an unacknowledged summary of a source;
- direct copying or transcription.
With regard to essays, reports and dissertations, the rule is: if information or ideas are obtained from any source, that source must be acknowledged according to the appropriate convention in that discipline; and any direct quotation must be placed in quotation marks and the source cited immediately.”
Plagiarism can also mean:
- submitting the same work, or a substantial part of the same work more than once for the purpose of assessment. This is the case even if this was all your own work initially as it could be deriving double credit for a single effort; and
- submitting work written by someone else, but passing this off as your own work; and
- submitting work purchased from essay-writing services constitutes plagiarism and so students are encouraged to report the use of any commercial essay-writing services to the Senate Office. Students should be extra vigilant when asking for assistance from anyone other than a member of university staff.
So please be careful when asking a proof-reader to check your work, or asking someone else to edit your work, whether or not they are paid to do so. Students can seek assistance on essay writing from the Student Learning Service and also see the Language Centre Essay Checking Service.
What if I am accused of plagiarism?
If you are accused of plagiarism in an essay, dissertation, exam or other piece of work, your case will be investigated by either your School or, in cases of severe plagiarism, the Senate Assessors for Student Conduct. They will almost certainly ask you to a meeting, where you will have to explain your side of the story.
Sanctions available to the University could range from the opportunity to resubmit a piece of work, to being failed for the assessment or being given a severe reprimand.
Before any meeting with your School or Senate Assessors, you may wish to consider writing a personal statement that will help those conducting the meeting to understand the facts and decide whether you deliberately cheated or made an honest mistake. This statement could include:
- An explanation of how you studied and researched the piece of work
- What your understanding of plagiarism has been, and what this understanding was based upon (for example, academic practice learned from another country’s education system)
- What guidance you received from your School on plagiarism and research methods, and how you interpreted this advice
- Assistance you have sought (for example from the Student Learning Service) since you became aware of the accusation
- As you see it, the mistakes you have made and lessons you have learned about research techniques and referencing.
Your statement should be factual, giving dates and details of the above points, and should not simply be an emotional or apologetic discourse. It should also be brief – we would generally recommend no more than two or three sides of A4. You should submit it to your School office or the Senate Office (depending on where your case has been referred) no later than the day before your meeting.
How can the SRC help?
The SRC can assist you in a number of ways, such as:
- helping you understand the accusation made against you
- giving you guidance on writing a personal statement prior to a hearing
- representing you at any meeting with the School or Senate Assessors for Student Conduct
- explaining the Plagiarism Statement and pointing you towards other sources of help
If you need any help, just telephone or pop in during our opening hours, or email us.
What other resources are there?
Student Learning Service – the SLS is a team within the University who provide workshops and guidance to students on a variety of learning issues, such as study techniques or research methods. They can help you better understand the University’s definition of plagiarism and how it might apply to any of your work.
School – your School should issue guidance in your course handbook, and often in class, about the risks of plagiarism and how to properly reference. Make sure you read this information, and seek assistance from staff in the department or your Adviser of Studies if you are unclear about it.
For international students in the College of Social Sciences, the College’s International Student Learning Officer Dr Gayle Pringle Barnes can help with study skills, including how to avoid plagiarism, and with any other questions about living and studying in Glasgow.