Plagiarism is the inclusion of any idea or any language from someone else without giving due credit by citing and referencing that source in your work.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the inclusion of any idea or any language from someone else without giving due credit by citing and referencing that source in your work. This applies if the source is print or electronic, published or unpublished, or the work of any other person.  Examples of plagiarism include:

  • Handing in another student's work as your own.
  • Copying an essay or some text from a source without proper acknowledgement.
  • Paraphrasing materials from a source text without appropriate referencing.
  • Using someone else's ideas or arguments without acknowledging them.
  • Using statistics, tables, figures, data, diagrams or images without acknowledgement or reference.
  • Handing in material downloaded directly from the internet.
  • Submitting, in whole or in part, work that has previously been submitted at Bristol or elsewhere.
  • Buying or commissioning work, such as essays or software programs.

How to avoid plagiarism

You should consult the relevant handbooks from your faculty/school and/or programme to ensure that you are working within the specific requirements of your subject.  To avoid plagiarism you should:

  • Write your essay in your own words.
  • Only include other people's ideas within your work when they support your argument or to illustrate a point and ensure you reference them.
  • Try and think in terms of 'ideas' and not quotations or paraphrases; if something is not your idea then whose is it?
  • Use direct quotations only when absolutely necessary, focus on ideas instead.
  • If you use quotations, paraphrases, statistics, tables, figures, data, diagrams or images, make sure you reference them.
  • Never cut and paste from the internet.

What happens if you are suspected of plagiarism

Plagiarism is a serious academic offence. If plagiarism is suspected in your work, you will be asked to attend an interview with senior members of the school where you will be given the chance to discuss the issues.

Any obviously plagiarised work is unacceptable and will be penalised according to University regulations.

If you are being investigated for plagiarism you can contact Bristol SU Academic Advice for free and impartial advice and support.

How we detect plagiarism: Turnitin UK

The University uses Turnitin UK to assist in systematically checking student assignments for plagiarism. The software highlights sections of text which have been found in other sources, including the World Wide Web, databases of reference material, and work submitted by other students. The assignment is reviewed by the academic department, which will make a decision as to whether the work has been correctly cited or whether there is evidence of plagiarism.

For more information on how Turnitin is used, see the following: Turnitin UK - JISC Plagiarism Detection Service (PDF, 156kB). You can find this guidance in the Student rules and regulations.

Plagiarism test

Test your understanding of plagiarism.

Bristol SU Advice Service

For plagiarism and exam cheating advice from the Students' Union's Just Ask team.

Referencing your work

For guidance on how to reference in your work.

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