Plagiarism at UP

MBALI MKHITHI

The University of Pretoria’s website defines plagiarism as, “A serious form of academic misconduct which involves both appropriating someone else’s written or creative work and passing it off as one’s own work.” Written or creative work refers to words, images, ideas, opinions, discoveries, artworks, music, recordings and computer-generated work among many. Plagiarism could be committed in assignments, where students take information from the internet, books or other sources and pass it off as their own work.

This act is forbidden and bears serious consequences. When a student is found guilty of plagiarising, they are informed in writing by the marker and given an opportunity to deny the allegation in person. If the student admits to plagiarising, the marker will then suggest a penalty in line with the Plagiarism Penalty Scale, and a note of the incident will be made on the student’s record. Such a penalty can be serious enough to affect their academic progress. In extreme cases, penalties could result in suspension, expulsion or denial to graduate.

In order to ensure that students do not plagiarise, they are required to submit their assignments through Turnitin, an internet-based plagiarism prevention service found on ClickUP. Turnitin checks a student’s work and compares it with other articles and information found on the internet. It then produces a similarity percentage that reflects the exact words plagiarised and the sources they were taken from. The service can also pick up if someone changed the wording in an attempt to disguise the plagiarism. The percentage reflected determines whether or not a student can be charged with plagiarism. Each faculty has a percentage limit and if a student has passed that limit, their assignment will not be marked, or the student will face repercussions. Even if a student does not submit an assignment through Turitin themselves, faculties can run a document through Turnitin if they suspect plagiarism.

Anti-plagiarism at UP does not mean students are not allowed to use information from the internet and other sources, but rather it means that students must reference the information they use through the different referencing styles used by each faculty or the students must rephrase the information, integrating it with their own knowledge, and then reference the source in their bibliography. The Merensky II Library holds free anti-plagiarism workshops every semester, which students are welcome to attend. More information on plagiarism will be given by each faculty’s study guide and is also available on the UP website.

 

Illustration: Sally Hartzenberg

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