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Referencing, copyright and plagiarism

Referencing, copyright and plagiarism

Writing assignments means researching, reading and exploring ideas to help you form your own opinions. In order to get good marks and use information ethically, there are certain academic conventions or procedures you need to follow:

  • abide by copyright law
  • reference your work
  • avoid plagiarism

What is copyright?

'Copyright' is a law that protects the rights of the owner, or their representative, to have their work used only with their permission. The owner is usually the person who wrote (author) or created (artist, composer, photographer) the work in question.  This means that you can't use another person's words, sound or images without recognising their ownership and obtaining their permission.

However, a 'fair dealing' rule permits you to copy a limited amount of material, as long as it is for private study or personal research purposes. 'Fair dealing' usually extends to copying:

  • 5% of a book or one chapter of a book (whichever is greater)
  • one journal article from an issue
  • one poem or short story from an anthology (up to 10 pages)

Online you will also find resources described as 'creative commons' works.  The copyright holders have licensed these materials for non-commercial/educational use.  The Creative Commons Search page is an easy way to locate images, videos and music - perfect for using in class. 

What is referencing?

Referencing is a way to acknowledge that you have used the ideas or written/recorded material belonging to another author.   The Faculty of Education and Sport (FES) expects all assignments to be referenced with the Harvard referencing system.  The Learning Resources Guide to Referencing gives lots of advice about how to do that.  

Some people find the online referencing management system, RefWorks, very helpful.  More information on this is on the Learning Resources website.  Or contact Adele for help and advice.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism means failing to give recognition to the work and/or ideas of others in your own work. This could be either intentionally (I meant to do it) or unintentionally (I didn't realise I was doing it).  Both are an academic offence and, if caught, you could lose marks for your assignment, fail a unit or even fail your degree.  Many assignments are checked for plagiarism through TurnItIn - your BREO unit/handbook will have more information about this procedure.  Plagiarism is avoided by making sure:

  • you learn how to reference
  • you learn how to paraphrase correctly
  • you develop your own writing style
  • you make sensible notes when reading.

PAD have put together some more information on how to avoid plagiarising other people's intellectual property.

University of Bedfordshire

Education» Referencing, copyright and plagiarism