Plagiarism and Referencing Help

How to avoid Plagiarism

What is plagiarism?

The University defines Plagiarism as "Namely submitting work as a candidates own of which the candidate is not the author. This includes failure to acknowledge clearly and explicitly the ideas, words or works of another person whether they are published or unpublised" For more information on the universitys policy towards plagiarism please click here

- Copying someone's work and pretending it is your own

- Incorrectly referencing someone else's work

- Collaborating with peers to produce work

- Summarising someone's work without providing a full reference

The university uses a detection service, TurnItIn, which scans the internet, large databases or reference material and work other students have submitted in order to find any duplicated work.

How to avoid Plagiarism

How can I make sure I don’t commit plagiarism by accident?

  • Take time to familiarise yourself with the referencing style required.
  • If there is anything you are unsure of, make sure you ask someone – your personal tutor or a lecturer.
  • Make sure you plan your time effectively so that when it is time to write your work you feel confident enough about the topic not to be tempted by the idea of cutting and pasting your essay together.
  • If you have previously studied at another University or in another country MAKE SURE you take time to familiarise yourself with correct referencing in the UK as this may be very different from what you are used to.
  • Try your best to manage your time and work hard. If you still find you are struggling you should go and see your personal tutor who may be able to advise you what else you can do.
  • Make sure you make clear notes all the way through the planning stage of your essay.
  • If you do not know exactly where a reference has come from DO NOT include it.      

Common Mistakes that students make:

  • Handing in a draft instead of a final version where they haven’t referenced properly
  • Missing out quotation marks (often because the student is used to a different form of referencing).
  • Handing in work that they have received credit for previously in another assignment.
  • Making up references at the end of a quotation (as a result of not writing it down correctly in the planning stage).
  • Handing in work that is very similar to that of a course mate or someone from a previous year.
  • Relying too much on the words of others rather than writing original text.
  • Paraphrasing slightly someone else’s words rather than completely re-writing.
  • Handing in work that is similar to a friend at a different University.
  • Sharing work with someone so that they can copy it (yes you will get in trouble too)

It is no longer possible to get away with plagiarism so don’t be tempted to try it. There is always a better option.


Not referencing correctly is a major cause of students being accused of Plagiarism. Many times the student is not even aware of the incorrect referencing and find themselves faced with a possible zero for that piece of work. Referencing is of great importance for your own academic integrity and maintaining the high academic standards of the University. Even if you are  not accused of Plagiarism incorrect referencing can result in a significant percentage decrease in your work. 

Ensure you know how to reference correctly from the start, the Library run referencing help sessions which you can find and book here 

Most departments specify which referencing style they prefer, so make sure you contact your department or look in your Undergraduate handbook to find out what you can use. Your department handbook can be found on your departments Learn page. 

Two of the most common styles of referencing used in the departments are described below:

British Standard Harvard

Harvard style uses ‘In text Citations.’  This means that you must cite the author, year of publication and page number in the text, as well as referencing in full at the end of the essay, for example Martin (2003, p.54) argued that… for every direct quote you use. All quotes should be in quotation marks.

You must provide a full reference list (bibliography)  at the end of the essay as well. How you reference differs slightly depending on what type of material you are using, for a book it should include;

AUTHOR(S), Year. Title. Edition( – if not the 1st.) Place of publication: Publisher

For example;  KOOP, G., 2005. Analysis of economic data. 2nd ed. Chichester: Wiley.

For more information and for other types of material please click here for the library’s help sheet 


When using the numeric system you indicate cited works with a number, and the page number if appropriate, either in brackets (1, P155) or in subscript (Keyboard keys;  Ctrl, Shift, =) with the subsequent citations of the same source receive the same number. All quotes should be in quotation marks. 

A reference list (bibliography) needs to be provided at the end of the essay, with sources listed in numerical order. References differ depending on what material type you are using, but for a book it should look like,

( ) AUTHOR(S). Title. Edition(– if not the 1st). Place of publication: Publisher, Year.

For example; (1) CRANE, D. Invisible Colleges. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972.

For more information please click here for the library help sheet

These are just two types of referencing systems, there are many more, please consult  your department handbook for help with any other system they may require you to use. If you are still unsure how to reference correctly please contact your Academic Librarians who can sit down and explain the system you should be using in greater detail. Contacts for the Academic Librarians of each school can be found here.


Each department differs in requirements for a bibliography or reference list. Please contact your academic librarian, department or consult your handbook to ensure you are doing it correctly. 

Is plagiarism worth the risk? – The answer is definitely not!

With lecturers more aware of the pressures on students, and with advances in technology, it is extremely unlikely you will get away with plagiarism. The punishments for plagiarism are also very high. In a high number of cases of plagiarism your punishment (even if your plagiarism was a result of lack of knowledge) will be your work receiving a zero. You will then have to spend the time and money to resubmit this work, and even then it is highly unlikely that the maximum mark you can achieve will be more that 40% (or 50% if that is the lowest mark required in your course to pass it).

For more serious cases where it is deemed you have used a very high percentage of someone else’s work and the plagiarism is calculated and planned, it is possible that your studies may be terminated. If you commit a second offence of academic misconduct or a second offence of plagiarism then it is also highly likely that your studies will be terminated. There is lots of help available throughout the university so don’t be tempted in by plagiarism.

Are you reading this because you have been accused of plagiarism? Or are you thinking that plagiarism might be the only solution for you? If so, we strongly advise you to seek help now.

You can seek help from the library or your personal tutor to find out how to ensure this doesn’t happen or to avoid it happening again.

For information on how LSU Advice can support you with this please visit our academic misconduct page.