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Plagiarism is the passing off of someone else’s work as one’s own, and is cheating.
The key to avoiding plagiarism is to give credit where it is due -- if in doubt, cite.


Plagiarise - "Take and use as one’s own (the thoughts, writings, inventions etc., of another person); copy (literary work, ideas etc.) improperly or without acknowledgement; pass off the thoughts, work, etc., of (another person) as one's own."

From: The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.


Copying and pasting a few sentences into your essay might seem innocent, but, in the academic world, any act of plagiarism can have serious consequences. Plagiarism is unethical as it goes against the University's standards as you essentially stealing someone’s ideas and/or work. 

To avoid plagiarism you must give credit whenever you:

  • Use another person’s opinions, ideas, or theories.
  • Use facts, statistics, graphs, drawings etc. that are not common knowledge.
  • Use quotations of another person’s spoken or written words.
  • Paraphrase another person’s spoken or written words.


So, Reference it if...

  • it's a quote;
  • it 's a paraphrase;
  • it's another person's idea, words, theory or image!


Examples of Plagiarism 

  • Failing to cite all the sources you used
  • Copying text from a source and pasting it into your essay  
  • Getting someone else to write your essay
  • Buying a paper and turning it as your own work
  • Using an image, video or anything else you find online in your work without providing a correct citation

Common Knowledge

The only source you can use in an essay without crediting it, is information that is considered common knowledge and as a result not attributable to one source.

Common knowledge is information generally known to a knowledgeable person, such as commonly known facts and dates.

Examples of common knowledge are:

  • Known time and date information (There are twelve months in a year)
  • Known historical facts (Julius Caesar was a Roman)
  • Geographic pieces of information easily verified by a non-specialized map (Dublin is in Ireland)

A general guide to understanding written plagiarism

An informative chart. Retrieved from:
License: CC BY-NC-SA: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

What about images, videos, and music?

Plagiarism goes beyond paperwork. Everyone holds intellectual property to their idea or work, no matter what form it takes. Permission must be obtained before using someone’s image, video, or music.

These are all considered plagiarism:

  • Copying media (images) from other websites to paste them into your own work.
  • Making a video using footage from others’ videos or using copyrighted music as part of the recording.
  • Performing another person’s copyrighted music (i.e., playing a cover).
  • Compiling a piece of music that derives greatly from another composition.

Intentional / Unintentional Plagiarism

Both intentional and unintentional plagiarism are wrong and against the rules and can result in strict penalties. Ignoring or not knowing the rules of how to not plagiarise and correctly cite sources is not an excuse!

Intentional and unintentional Plagiarism


Collusion is a type of cheating, and it happens when students work together to submit an assignment which is intended to be an individual effort. It involves copying someone else’s work or allowing someone else to copy your work.

While collaboration is encouraged, passing off another’s work as your own is not.

Plagiarism by contract cheating

When students engage in contract cheating, they get credit for work they didn't do and material they didn't learn. Contract cheating doesn’t need to include a payment for you to be accused of engaging in it as it can be done as a favour with no exchange of money.

What are the consequences of plagiarism?

The consequences of plagiarism vary based on the gravity of the infringement and can include:

  • A lower grade
  • Failing an assignment or course
  • Suspension or expulsion
  • A ruined reputation
  • Withdrawal of funding
  • Criminal investigation
  • Legal action; fines or penalties

Being aware of the penalties for plagiarism both in and beyond University can help you become more responsible and dedicated to the integrity of your work.

Detecting Plagiarism

ATU Galway-Mayo uses Turnitin as part of the assignment submission process to help students demonstrate academic integrity in their work by demonstrating how to use, create and communicate information in an original, honest, and responsible manner.

Turnitin identifies when texts are similar. Its purpose is to educate students about correct citation and referencing methods.

ATU Library Podcasts

» Avoiding plagiarism

» Common knowledge

The following videos are from Cite them Right Online:

Login required (ATU students & staff).

» How can I avoid plagiarising?

» Understanding plagiarism

Further Reading

Useful LibGuides: