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Developing academic English

Use of source materials

Start by selecting and evaluating information.

  • Have you selected the relevant information and referenced it accurately?
  • Have you integrated the information using your own words (e.g. with quotations or summaries)?
  • Have you avoided plagiarising other material - simply copying whole section from another source - as though it were your own?
  • Have you presented different perspectives from your source materials where appropriate?

Listen to these experienced OU tutors explain why you must learn to explain concepts and ideas in your own words. Copying large chunks of someone else's written work into your assignment, even if you credit it to the original author, isn't acceptable.

OU tutors talk about plagiarism

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Darron Board: Plagiarism of course means taking the ideas from someone else and presenting them as your own in an assignment which of course isn't allowed under the University rules. One of the issues with plagiarism is that it's culturally bound. And what we call plagiarism, in other countries is actually good academic practice. And the way you show that you're aware of an author and you respect what that author has written is by literally taking out parts of a publication and placing it into your own essays.

Zoe Doye: And this is a trap that many students fall into, that they can put huge bits of texts within quotations and feel that that's OK.

Darron Board: And of course it's not that students are on purposely plagiarising because they're lazy or because they want to cheat the system; its cause they just don't understand the requirements.

Zoe Doye: For a student to write in their own words, as opposed to using lengthy quotations, shows that they've read the text, they have evaluated it, they've understood it and they can tell me about it.

Useful links and activities

Last updated 2 months ago