A bibliography

A bibliography

Using what you read in your academic writing

In general, theoretical study is taught on university courses in my country and we don't need to support ideas with examples. It's different in the UK. - Laila

Knowing how to use other people's ideas in your written work is an important academic skill, but this needs to be done correctly to avoid any risk of plagiarism. Plagiarism basically means taking another person's ideas, or words, and presenting them as if they were your own. To avoid this, you need to know how to refer to such source material and how to include the necessary reference details. If it is believed that you have committed plagiarism, it may lead to you getting 0% for an assignment, or worse.

In these activities you will explore the meanings of some important concepts concerned with referencing. You will also practise identifying examples of different ways of referencing correctly and of plagiarism from students' writing.

Activity 1Understanding what referencing involves

Do you know how to refer to what you have read in your academic work, and do you understand the difference between the various methods of doing this?

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Read these four short explanations of different concepts to do with the task of referencing. For each, choose the concept that is being described from the dropdown list and then check your answers.

is rewriting another person's opinion in your own words, and including the appropriate reference details (name, date of publication).

is copying word for word what another person has said and putting them in "quotation" marks followed by the appropriate reference details.

is copying another person's idea or using their exact words, without reference details. This may be seen as 'stealing' someone's ideas and is not allowed.

is a full list of the details of books and journal articles etc that you have referred to in a piece of academic writing or used as background reading. It is included at the end of your writing.

Activity 2Identifying examples of paraphrase, quotation and plagiarism

In this activity you are going to practise identifying examples of quotation, paraphrase and plagiarism in student writing.

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Read this original text taken from a course textbook on how police and governments tackle crime. Compare it with the four extracts from student essays that follow. Decide if each student's use of the original text is quotation, paraphrase or plagiarism and select the appropriate button. Then read the feedback.

Original text (Calder, 2007):

There is an understandable tendency to focus on the most serious crimes as these tend to be the most shocking and attention grabbing. Newspapers, for example, are most likely to report major crimes such as murders or large scale theft, rather than minor pick-pocketing. This seems to be an erroneous approach, and new evidence is emerging to suggest that governments would be wise to instruct their police services to focus on minor crimes. If criminals are caught committing low-level crimes, they are less likely to progress to major crimes and therefore it reduces crimes levels as a whole.

Student extract 1:

Focussing on tacking major crimes is an erroneous approach, and new evidence is emerging to suggest that governments would be wise to instruct their police services to focus on minor crimes.

Student extract 2:

Law-enforcing authorities often pay most attention to high level crime; however, it would be more effective to focus on low level crime as a way of reducing overall crime rates (Calder 2007:7).

Student extract 3:

It is a bad idea to focus on tackling major crimes. Police should tackle minor crimes to reduce the overall level of crime.

Student extract 4:

Often police services pay most attention to trying to reduce major crimes, rather than low level crime. This appears to be an "erroneous approach" (Calder 2007:10) and more attention should be paid to tackling these.

This is plagiarism. Large sections have been copied from the original, but quotation marks and reference information have not been included.

This is a paraphrase. The idea is the same as the original, but it has been rephrased using the student's own words. Reference details have also been included.

This is plagiarism. Although the words have been changed and it looks like a paraphrase, reference details have not been included, so the idea has been 'stolen'.

This includes a quotation. The words which come from the original have been put in quotation marks and the reference details are given.

Would you like to review the main points?