When you are writing a piece of University work you will almost always need to include sections or ideas from other people’s work. This can be from books, the internet or from lectures. This is standard academic practice. It is important that whoever is reading the work is clear which words or ideas are yours and which came from someone else. This is known as referencing.

Coventry University uses the Harvard system to reference other people’s ideas, text, or diagrams. Go online to and click on ‘Harvard Reference Style’ for a full guide. You can also download a copy to keep.

If you do not reference properly, even if you do so by mistake, it will be treated as plagiarism. The University views plagiarism as cheating. It is possible to plagiarise written work, images, sounds, computer code, performance etc. Anything which you present as your own which is in fact somebody else’s work is plagiarism.

This occurs when two or more students work together in the preparation and production of work which is ultimately submitted by each in an identical, or substantially similar, form and/or is represented by each to be the product of his or her individual efforts. The University will see this as an offence whether it is done deliberately or not. You could even be found guilty of collusion if another student copies your work without your permission if you have knowingly given them access to the work.

Examples of plagiarism include
• Copying and submitting the work of a fellow student.
• Buying and submitting an assignment from the Internet.
• Creating a piece of work by cutting and pasting various sections of text and/or images found on the Internet into a document without referencing the sources.
• Unacknowledged paraphrasing from someone else’s work
• Including visual sources in your work without explaining where they came from
• Resubmitting work you have already had marked or may be being marked on another module at the same time

It is your responsibility to understand what is expected of you whilst you are a student at Coventry University to make sure you do not plagiarise. You can do this by attending the appropriate lectures, reading study guides, attending workshops at the Centre for Academic Writing and asking your tutors for guidance if you are not sure.

How can I avoid plagiarism?
Every course or faculty handbook has guidelines on the appropriate way to reference the work of others. It is important that you read and understand these. If you have any queries about the appropriate way to reference other people’s work ask your personal tutor or module leader for advice. You can also get help from the library and the Centre for Academic Writing (CAW). If you have been accused of plagiarism you should contact the Students’ Union Advice Centre (SUAC) for advice immediately.

As a general guide, be aware that in all the following circumstances you must include a correct reference when:

• quoting sections from a book
• including text that you have cut and pasted from the internet
• ‘paraphrasing’ or summarising someone else’s argument
• using another student’s notes (even in group work projects)
• including points from lecture notes
• using graphs or illustrations that you did not create
• copying computer code

How can I avoid collusion?
• Make sure you do not share your work with other students
• If the assessment is a piece of group work, ensure (by checking with your tutor/lecturer and course handbooks) that you understand what the rules are
• If the assessment is an individual piece of work, it is acceptable to discuss ideas and strategies with fellow students. However, never help a fellow student to produce work for an individual piece of assessment. Not only will you deprive them of the learning opportunity involved, you could also both be liable for collusion. All individual work must be the sole work of the individual concerned
• Likewise, never lend your work to a fellow student, even your best friend. It is your responsibility to ensure that no-one else copies your work and you can never be 100% sure that your friend will not be tempted to use your work

In General
• Always give yourself time to check your work thoroughly (and, if you like, to submit a draft to Turnitin), before you submit it for assessment. Students who push deadlines to the limit run a significant risk of cutting corners and breaking the rules.
• You should check your course’s specific requirements in the above areas to make sure you understand what is expected of you.

Where can I go for more help?

Centre for Academic Writing (CAW) – offers a wide range of academic support for more information or call in at CAW, Frederick Lanchester Annex, 024 7688 7902 or email:

Lanchester Library – The library offers information literacy sessions to students at all levels and increasingly these include advice on what constitutes plagiarism and how students can avoid it. All Subject Librarians are happy to make one-to-one appointments with students, whenever they need help. For More information go to

Your Faculty – contact your Faculty Support Office to ask if there are any workshops, study groups or written materials you can access with more information about plagiarism and how to avoid it


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