Current Students

Avoid plagiarism

The best way to avoid plagiarism in essay writing is to get into the habit of distinguishing your own work from that by other people.

Essay writing

We assume that unreferenced work is your own, so make sure that phrases and sentences that are not your own are in quotation marks and given precise references, and that ideas and arguments that are not your own are properly referenced.

In cases of concepts or facts that are widely used or known this may not be necessary for example "liberals believe in the importance of individual freedom" or "Australia has six states". To avoid accidental plagiarism, ensure that the notes you use to prepare your essay clearly identify quotations and have full references.

There are two commonly used methods of referencing.

Harvard referencing system

One, sometimes called the Harvard system, enables you to signal the authorship of a quotation or an idea in the text, with the full reference appearing at the end of the essay.

Following the quotation or idea drawn from another source you should insert in brackets the surname of the author, the date of publication and, in cases of a direct quotation or where an idea is dealt with in some detail in your source, the pages number(s). Some examples of how Harvard references appear in the text are:

  • (Berlin, 1969: 33) in the case of a book
  • (Rawls, 1984: 37) in the case of a chapter in an edited book
  • (Barry, 1990: 513) in the case of an article from a journal

These references refer to the precise publication details set out in a list of references at the end of the essay, as follows:

  • Berlin, Isaiah (1969) Four Essays on Liberty, Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Rawls, John (1984) 'The Right and the Good Contrasted', In Michael Sandel (ed.) Liberalism and its Critics, New York: New York University Press.
  • Barry, Brian (1990) 'How Not to Defend Liberal Institutions', British Journal of Political Science 20: 1, pp 1-14.

In this system you would only use footnotes or endnotes to add supplementary information to the argument in your essay.

Oxford referencing system

Another system, sometimes known as the Oxford system, uses footnotes or endnotes, not only for supplementary information, but also for references to sources.

The first reference to a source is in full, the second and subsequent reference in an abbreviated form. There is a variety of acceptable means or presentation; we suggest the following:

  • Isaiah Berlin, Four Essays on Liberty, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1969
  • John Rawls, 'The Right and the Good Contrasted', in Michael Sandel (ed.) Liberalism and its Critics, New York, New York University Press, 1984.
  • Brian Barry, 'How Not to Defend Liberal Institutions,' British Journal of Political Science vol. 20 no 1, 1990 pp l-14.

Subsequent references should appear in an abbreviated form. lbid. refers to reference in the previous footnote, with the page number if it is different from the one previously cited.

Op. cit. following an author' s name refers to a reference to a work that has already been cited. Add a date to distinguish different works by the same author (For example, Rawls op. cit., 1984 p.37.)

If you use the Oxford system you will also need to provide a full bibliography at the end of the essay.

There are many guides available from the UWA Library which give more details of these referencing systems.

Design projects and artwork

It is common practice to make use of source material such as other design projects, or styles of artwork. However, in order to avoid the perception of plagiarism, you are encouraged to clearly identify the source material as a component of your presentation. This may be done through a combination of images and text.

The collaging or montaging of appropriating elements in order to create a new work is an acceptable practice, however the substantial appropriation of another work, such that the meaning and intent of the original has been borrowed without reference, is unacceptable, and constitutes plagiarism.