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If a student submits an assignment that contains work that is not their own, without indicating this to the marker (acknowledging your sources), they are committing ‘plagiarism’ and this is an offence
Referencing is when you acknowledge other peoples’ work and allow the reader to locate the sources you have used. Referencing is one aspect of developing good academic practice, an essential skill to learn at University. Referencing your sources also means you can avoid plagiarising the work of others.
Many styles of referencing have been used in different OU modules. The two most commonly used styles are Open University (OU) Harvard and Cite Them Right Harvard. You should always refer to your module materials to check which referencing style to use for your assignment.
For those using the OU Harvard style of referencing the OU Harvard guide to citing references (requires login) provides practical advice and examples to help you create references in this style. The PDF version of the OU Harvard guide does not require login.
Cite Them Right (CTR) is an online resource, that contains many referencing styles and guidance on how to use them. It is regularly updated to reflect the variety of sources that can be referenced in academic work and gives detailed referencing guidance for a wide range of sources and includes an extensive help and support section. CTR includes the Cite Them Right Harvard referencing style. This referencing style is widely available in reference management tools, enabling you to automatically create reference lists if you use one of these tools.
The Library has a Quick guide to Harvard referencing for use with Cite Them Right, this includes advice on referencing OU module materials and which sections of CTR you might want to use when referencing physical and online module material.
Additional guidance is available for disabled students on referencing accessible formats referencing accessible formats.
The Bibliographic Management page will tell you about tools you can use to track and organise your references.
Cite Them Right has a 'Basics' section, which includes information such as:
The OU Library has developed Being Digital, a collection of short easy to follow activities. Being Digital provides resources to help you to avoid plagiarism and show you how to include in-text citations and reference lists within your written work. For example:
My tutor said I was showing signs of serious plagiarism and I should contact Library Services for help. I was really worried because I thought plagiarism was some kind of nasty skin condition.
I had hoped they might prescribe me a cream, but it turned out I needed to develop my skills in referencing the material I use in my assignments.
I was referred to the guidance on the Library website which told me how to use the correct style when referencing my sources of information. I also found out about a really useful online training session.
In it I found out that plagiarism is when you pass off someone else's work as your own without acknowledging the source. Although I didn’t set out to cheat, I could have got into trouble if I’d carried on using other people’s material without making it clear where it came from.
I now know the right way to cite references and how to avoid plagiarism in future. And I’ve discovered some really useful online help and expert advice through the Library helpdesk.
Best of all, my tutor was amazed at what she called my ‘metamorphosis’ – although that sounds quite nasty too…..
Summary: Plagiarism is passing off someone else’s work as your own without acknowledging the source. The OU Library can help you learn the referencing skills you need to avoid plagiarism.
To learn more about avoiding plagiarism go to Referencing and plagiarism
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