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Geography: Avoiding Plagiarism


The most common form of academic dishonesty is Plagiarism. Broadly, plagiarism takes place

  • when you present someone else's work or ideas as your own
  • when you incorporate someone else's work into your own without full acknowledgement
  • with or without the consent
  • whether it is intentional or otherwise

(Source :


Examples of Plagiarism

  • Copying a chunk of text into your assignment and changing only a few words
  • Re-using the same work for different assignments or courses (self-plagiarism!*)
  • Presenting someone's argument as your own original work
  • Re-using the same work from different semesters (self-plagiarism!*)
  • *self-plagiarism happens when you re-use your own work (data / text / ideas) from another module without acknowledging that previous work. This is wrong because every assignment is expected to be a fresh effort. Always discuss with your supervisor first if you intend to re-use your own previous work. 

Consequences of Plagiarism

  • Consequences of plagiarism vary from minor to moderate to serious, depending on how high stakes the assignment is, and whether you are a undergraduate or graduate student.
  • Minor consequences might include a warning letter, moderate to serious include failure of a module or suspension and beyond.


Plagiarism vs. Copyright

The difference between plagiarism and copyright is that plagiarism is a matter of ethics whereas copyright is a matter of law

Ensure that you aren't accidentally infringing someone's copyright when you re-use images, text, or other materials.

We've listed lots of examples in the video below.

Copyright Infringement Plagiarism

Is an office/prohibited under the:

Copyright Act

NUS Student Code of Conduct

Is prohibited under the:

NUS Student Code of Conduct

Legal in nature Moral/Ethical in nature
Taking someone's right to commercially exploit the work Taking someone's right to be acknowledged for their work

Avoiding Plagiarism and cite whenever you

  • Directly quote from a source
  • Paraphrase or summarise ideas or arguments from a source
  • Reference your own work - you can be penalised for plagiarising yourself
  • Use statistics/data/images/other works created by others

Incorporating a text excerpt into your assignment

  • Quoting a short abstract word-for-word when there is no better way to phrase the idea. Make sure to cite!
  • Summarising the main point(s) the author is trying to make. Make sure to cite!
  • Paraphrasing or re-writing the author's points in your own words. You should always aim to paraphrase. Make sure to cite!

Plagiarism and how to avoid it