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Plagiarism and referencing

Academic malpractice is any activity, intentional or otherwise, that is likely to undermine the integrity essential to scholarship or research.

It includes plagiarism, collusion, fabrication or falsification of results, and anything else that could result in unearned or undeserved credit for those committing it. Academic malpractice can result from a deliberate act of cheating or may be committed unintentionally. Whether intended or not, all incidents of academic malpractice will be treated seriously by the University.

Tips for avoiding plagiarism

  1. Plagiarism is the theft or use of someone else's work without proper acknowledgement, presenting the material as if it were one's own. Plagiarism is a serious academic offence and the consequences are severe. It is therefore important to understand that any thesis or dissertation submitted for assessment must be your own work.

  2. Unacknowledged direct copying from the work of another person, or the close paraphrasing of somebody else's work, is plagiarism and is a serious offence, and will be investigated for academic malpractice. This applies to copying both from other students' work or the work of staff, as well as from published sources such as books, reports or journal articles. Plagiarised material may originate from any source. It is as serious to use material from the internet, or from a computer based encyclopaedia or literature archive, as it is to use material from a printed source if it is not properly acknowledged.

  3. Use of data from the work of others is entirely acceptable as are quotations, and can be valuable, provided that the source of the data or quotation is given. Failure to provide a source or put quotation marks around material that is taken from elsewhere gives the appearance that the comments are ostensibly your own. When quoting word-for-word from the work of another person, quotation marks or indenting (setting the quotation in from the margin) must be used and the source of the quoted material must be acknowledged.

  4. Paraphrasing, when the original statement is still identifiable and has no acknowledgement, is plagiarism. Taking any piece of text, from whatever source, and substituting words or phrases with other words or phrases, is plagiarism. Any paraphrase of another person's work must have an acknowledgement to the source. It is not acceptable to put together unacknowledged passages from the same or from different sources, linking them together with a few words or sentences of your own and changing a few words from the original text. This is regarded as over-dependence on other sources, which is a form of plagiarism.

  5. Direct quotations from an earlier piece of your own work, if unattributed, suggest that the work is original when in fact it is not. The direct copying of your own writings qualifies as plagiarism if the fact that the work has been or will be presented elsewhere (for example, an MSc or MPhil Thesis that has been submitted for examination at this or any other University) is not acknowledged.

  6. Special circumstances apply when submitting a thesis in alternative thesis format. If granted permission material may include those which are solely and/or partly authored by you and may be already published, accepted for publication or submitted for publication, or submitted for publication in externally refereed contexts such as journals and conference proceedings. You should use the introductory section of your thesis to explain and justify in full the nature and extent of your contribution and the contribution of co-authors and other collaborators to the publications presented. A significant proportion of the researched materials should be derived from original research undertaken after the date you initially registered with this university. For further guidance or support please contact your school PGR Director, Doctoral Academy office or Faculty training team.

  7. Sources of quotations used should be listed in full in bibliography/references at the end of the piece of work and in a style required by the Faculty guidelines.

  8. Plagiarism is a serious offence and will always result in imposition of a penalty. In deciding upon the penalty the University will take into account factors such as the extent and proportion of the work that has been plagiarised and your apparent intent. The penalties that can be imposed range from the down-grading of degree class, the award of a lesser qualification (e.g. a diploma rather than a Master’s degree) to disciplinary measures such as academic malpractice.

Acknowledging sources

Avoid plagiarism by remembering these basic points:

  • Your thesis must be your own work, not that of your supervisor, another student or author of any book, journal article, report or website.

  • Direct quotation or copying of text must be indicated by quotation-marks, giving the exact reference (including the page number), for example:

    As Sen (1981, p.1) has written: "Starvation is the characteristic of some people not having enough food to eat. It is not the characteristic of there not being enough food to eat".

    Food security has been defined as "access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life" (Reutlinger, 1987, p.205).

  • You must acknowledge when you are summarising, reporting or paraphrasing the views or work of a particular author or authors, for example:

    According to Sen...

    Bowbrick criticises Sen's arguments on the grounds that...

    Hartman (1976), in her seminal study on urban regeneration, found no evidence to support the role of charitable donations. However, Okuda (1985: 324) concludes that donations can have some positive impact if the donors are involved throughout the project's history. The present fieldwork indicated support for the latter viewpoint from the Bamako project (Toure, 1991).

    The discussion of malnutrition and hunger in this section draws heavily on the work of Dreze and Sen (1991, Ch.3).
  • Do NOT cite or list references that you have not read yourself. Do not rely on someone else’s interpretation of someone else’s work. The only exception to this rule is where you refer to an author who has been quoted by another, for example:

    As Sen (1983, p.26, as quoted by Nolan, 1993, p.104) says...

When is copyright permission required?

If you are using copyright material from other sources in your thesis, you may have to secure written permission from the copyright holders.

To decide if copyright permission is required for your thesis it may be worth asking your self these questions:

  • Does your thesis contain published articles in a journal or chapter from a book with you as the sloe author or an author amongst others?
  • Does your thesis contain questionnaires, maps, tests, surveys, graphs, illustrations or pictures in the form in which they were originally published elsewhere?
  • Does your thesis contain any quotations from pre-existing materials that extend over more than one page?
  • Does your thesis contain reproductions of complete poems or off-prints of journal articles, even if the work is short?

If you have answered yes to any of the above then you must obtain written authorisation from the copyright holder and/or co-author to reproduce the material.

Securing copyright permission may take some time. It is recommended that you seek permission as early as possible. Some publishers may post on their website a policy statement granting permission to use copyrighted material in a thesis.

An original signed letter on the copyright holder’s letterhead would be the protection against accusations of copyright violation. Original signatures would be required.

Example text for contacting a publisher:

I am contacting you to seek permission to include the following material within the electronic version of my PhD thesis: [Provide full details of the material you intend to include]

The thesis will be made available within the University of Manchester’s online research repository. The repository is non-commercial and openly available to all.

If a copyright holder indicates that permission has been granted you should indicate this at the appropriate point in your thesis, e.g. 'Permission to reproduce this ... has been granted by...'.

You should keep a copy of any letters or emails you received from rights holders, and include electronic copies of them with your submission.