Academic Honesty and Plagiarism

The University is committed to academic integrity, honesty and promotion of ethical scholarship. Under the University's Student Code of Conduct, students are expected to:

  • act honestly and ethically in the production of all academic work and assessment tasks.
  • give recognition to any direct quotes used from other authors or to those authors whose work has made an intellectual contribution to the contents of your work.
  • acknowledge shared ownership of ideas in group projects or assessment tasks.

The University’s Student Misconduct Rule defines academic misconduct as “conduct by a student that in any way undermines or otherwise puts at risk the academic integrity of any course, unit of study or assessment (including examinations) or the University's academic reputation”.

The acknowledgement of sources underpins all academic work.  Universities take plagiarism and collusion seriously as these are the most common form of academic misconduct.

What is Plagiarism?

The Macquarie Dictionary Online (2016) defines plagiarism as:

1.  the appropriation or imitation of another's ideas and manner of expressing them, as in art, literature, etc., to be passed off as one's own.

2.  a piece of writing, music, art, etc., appropriated or commissioned from another and passed off as one's own.

Furthermore, the website asserts that all of the following behaviours are considered plagiarism:

  • turning in someone else's work as your own.
  • copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit.
  • failing to put a quotation in quotation marks.
  • giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation.
  • changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit.
  • copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not.

What is plagiarism? (n.d.). Retrieved February 4, 2016, from

The University considers that it is the act of presenting material as one's own without appropriate acknowledgement that constitutes plagiarism, not the intention of the student when doing so. 'Appropriate acknowledgement' is defined as the conventions of citation recognised as acceptable to the University, as detailed in the Referencing Styles Policy.

What is Collusion?

Collusion is when two or more students, or a student and any other person(s), act together to cheat, plagiarise or engage in academic misconduct, or incite others to do so.

Why is Academic Honesty important?

Correct referencing of sources is important in academic assessments because:

  • it enables the unit coordinator to see where ideas influencing your work have originated.
  • it shows a path for how new knowledge is built.
  • it gives the appropriate attribution to those from whom you have sourced information and ideas.
  • Shows clear understanding of the material you have read.

At Western Sydney University plagiarism and collusion falls within the framework of the Student Misconduct Rule. Students should familiarise themselves with the Rule and with the associated guidelines.

Plagiarism in academic work is detected in a number of ways.

  • Markers are subject experts who will recognise the contributions of previous authors if they are presented inappropriately in submitted work.
  • The writing style used in submitted work often provides signs where plagiarism has taken place (e.g. dramatic changes in language used from paragraph to paragraph).
  • The unit coordinator may require you to use Turnitin as part of the assignment submission process, and to supply generated reports as part of the conditions of assessment.

How can I avoid plagiarism?

Students are expected to describe their own ideas and to explain these in their own words.
To avoid plagiarism, students must give credit whenever they:

  1. present another person's idea, opinion, or theory.
  2. include facts, statistics, graphs, drawings-any pieces of information-that are not common knowledge.
  3. quote another person's actual spoken or written words.
  4. paraphrase another person's spoken or written words.

Key strategies for avoiding plagiarism:

  • Manage your time to avoid completing assignments ‘at the last minute’.
  • Check your work before final submission and ensure you have included correct referencing and citation.
  • Where available, pre-submit your work to Turnitin and  make revisions on the basis of the Originality Report before final submission for assessment. Remember that there is a 24-hour delay for Originality Report for the second submission onwards.
  • Make use of Referencing & citation resources to help you attribute a quote or an idea correctly.
  • If you are unsure how to interpret reports from Turnitin, consult the Turnitin FAQs or your tutor/lecturer/librarian prior to submission.
  • Seek assistance from academic literacy staff based in your School or through the Library's Study Smart service.

Resources that will help you avoid plagiarism

  • Referencing & citation guide: Useful information and examples of referencing styles specific to your unit.
  • Reference management tools: The Library provides access to two reference management programs (EndNote and RefWorks) which can assists in the creation of a personal database of references.
  • Turnitin: Use of this electronic text-matching software is one aspect of a broader strategy to support the development of academic writing and information literacy skills.
  • Liaison Librarians can advise students on the best strategies for accessing information efficiently and effectively. They can provide advice on literature searches, research techniques, and training in the use of online resources.
  • School Librarians can assist academic staff with the development of information literacy skills for students.
  • The University provides a number of workshops and online tutorials to support students.
  • The University's Office of Governance Services provides a list of frequently asked questions relating to allegations of student misconduct under the Student Miscoduct Rule.