chat Resources: Plagiarism

Photo courtesy of A/P LEE Kooi Cheng


At the National University of Singapore (NUS), like many educational institutions around the world, plagiarism is considered an act of academic dishonesty and treated as a serious offence.  Sometimes, students think they understand what plagiarism is but in reality, they do not. In most cases, students plagiarise without meaning to do so.  

As an academic community, it is important that students understand what academic culture, academic writing and academic conventions are, and maintain academic integrity and research ethics.  In order to help students better appreciate these and the fundamentals of academic life, NUS introduced a new e-module, SE1000 “Student Essentials“, which is available on LumiNUS at the start of AY2019/2020.   

Taking reference from SE1000 “Student Essentials“, this document further highlights the section that discusses plagiarism by providing an overview on the following:  

  • What is plagiarism? 
  • How do I know I have plagiarised? 
  • How do I avoid plagiarism? 


What Is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is defined as “the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own” (Source: Oxford Dictionaries, 2012).  


How Do I Know I Have Plagiarised?

In an academic context, you would have committed an act of plagiarism if you have consciously or unconsciously  

  • presented someone else’s intellectual work as your own without giving credit or proper acknowledgement of the source. 
  • copied words or ideas from someone else without giving credit 
  • did not put a quotation in quotation marks 
  • provided incorrect information about the source of a quotation 
  • changed the words but retained the sentence structure of a source without giving credit 
  • copied so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of the work, whether acknowledgement is given or not 

(Source: What is Plagiarism, retrieved from


How Do I Avoid Plagiarism?

Strategies to avoid plagiarism are outlined in the e-module SE1000 “Student Essentials“, in particular the section on “Academic Integrity”, which emphasises the importance of maintaining academic integrity, and provides information about the common academic offences committed. This section also outlines the disciplinary processes by NUS and the possible consequences to students who commit such academic offences.  

Here are three things students may do to avoid plagiarism: 

Do a careful check of your work to ensure that you have done proper referencing and citation using respective disciplinary conventions. 
Make use of plagiarism detection tools that can help to ascertain if you have unknowingly taken another person’s work without properly acknowledging it.  One of the most commonly used tools is Turnitin which is integrated into LumiNUS.  It is important to note that for any plagiarism detection tool, it is not only the percentage of similarity that matters or matters most, but what it is that is highlighted as similar and whether the original authors have been appropriately credited for their ideas or work. 
Consult your lecturer if you have doubts about whether citations are required. 


Useful Resources Available in NUS

There are a number of related and relevant useful resources that have been made available to the NUS community, as follows: 

  • (New) Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty shares information on common form of academic dishonesty and suggests ways to avoid them.
  • Citation Styles provides comprehensive information on different citation conventions and how to cite using each. 
  • Citation Manager enables students to create references easily by automatically pulling citations from databases, library catalogues and selected search engines. Citations can be automatically added and formatted to the preferred citation style. 
  • Know Your Librarians is a service where students may engage with specific resource librarians for consultation, resource curation, and reference management.  
  • Writing and Communication Hub at the Centre for English Language Communication (CELC) offers one-to-one consultations for students who need advice and guidance on any aspect of their writing and oral presentations. 


References (2017, May 18). What is Plagiarism? Retrieved from

Plagiarise (n.d.). In Retrieved from

University of Calgary Continuing Education (n.d.). Academic Honesty. Retrieved from

Writing Tutorial Services (n.d.). Plagiarism: What It is and How to Recognize and Avoid It. Retrieved from


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