Skip to Main Content

Processing and evaluation: Plagiarism

Part of the Information Literacy Portal

Infoclip: Plagiarism, what is it and how to avoid it?

Brock Library. (2014, 2 sept.). What is plagiarism and how to avoid it? [video].


Plagiarism is presenting someone else’s work or ideas as your own, with or without their consent, by incorporating it into your work without full acknowledgement.

  • Verbatim (word for word) quotation without clear acknowledgement
    Quotations must always be identified as such by the use of either quotation marks or indentation, and with full referencing of the sources cited. It must always be apparent to the reader which parts are your own independent work and where you have drawn on someone else’s ideas and language.
  • Paraphrasing
    Paraphrasing the work of others by altering a few words and changing their order, or by closely following the structure of their argument, is plagiarism if you do not give due acknowledgement to the author whose work you are using.
  • Ownership and intellectual property
    To steal and pass off the ideas and words of another as one's own or to present as a new and original idea or product derived from an existing source

Plagiarism can also arise accidentally

You have copied a segment from an article or a newspaper report and you forget to refer to the source. Although this happened accidentally, it remains plagiarism. So you are responsible.

Not everything is plagiarism. Some things are generally known and it is not (or no longer) clear who the creator/inventor is. For example: "The earth rotates around its own axis in 24 hours."
This idea is so general that you do not have to mention whoever discovered that the earth rotates around its axis in 24 hours.

  In doubt whether something is general knowledge? Always refer to the source!

Cutting and pasting from the Internet

Cutting and pasting from the Internet without clear acknowledgement

Information derived from the Internet (webpages) must be adequately referenced and included in the bibliography. It is important to carefully evaluate all material found on the Internet, as it is less likely to have been through the same process of scholarly peer review as published sources.

What to do?

You can prevent plagiarism! Be alert, always!

When writing, think carefully about which ideas are your own, which ideas are general knowledge, and which ideas you borrow. Should you happen to use someone else's material, always mention the source provided with a reference.

See also: References


Copyright: what is it?

Copyright is a legal right, existing globally in many countries, that basically grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights to determine and decide whether, and under what conditions, this original work may be used by others. Copyright is a form of intellectual property pertaining to certain forms of creative work.
For questions you can contact the Zuyd copyright desk.

What is allowed and what is not?

You must respect the rights of the creator. If you want to use someone else's ideas, you must have permission to do so. Copyright protects the way in which something is expressed. It does not protect ideas.

Sometimes you automatically have permission to (re)use a source if you clearly state the ownership of the idea. For example:

  • Using a narrow segment of the source, it must match the source document word for word in your text: Quoting
  • Putting a passage from source material into your own words in your text: Paraphrasing
  • More and more authors are making their material open access. See Nice to know: Creative Commons.

How about pictures/images?

Note! Copyright also applies to images. For the use of images/pictures you also need the permission of the creator. And you have to mention the source by a reference.

Need to use an image but not sure if you have the legal and ethical right to do so? Understanding the laws for using images is complex.

 See the LibGuide of the UNC University Library: Images for Reuse

Your own copyright?

When you create a copyrighted work, you own a certain bundle of rights. These include the rights to copy, distribute, publicly perform, adapt (or make derivative works from), and license.

Your name (authorship) must be clearly mentioned in the text, but the use of the copyright sign © is not mandatory.

Nice to know 

Many authors choose to release their material from copyright: everyone can use the material without needing to request permission. This form of information sharing is known as Creative Commons. Usually there are conditions attached. In any case, you must mention the source by means of a reference.
See:  Creative Commons Nederland | Disclaimer | Over Zuyd Bibliotheek