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How to avoid plagiarism

It is not difficult to avoid plagiarism – if you make use of the work of another person, you should give proper recognition to that person.

(1) It is not enough merely to acknowledge the source by listing it in the bibliography or reference section at the end of a paper. If you quote from another source, you must identify all copied passages by putting them in quotation marks (i.e. ‘____’) or using proper indentation to show to the readers that they are the work of another person. The source must be clearly provided immediately after the copied passages.

(2) If you are paraphrasing or adopting an idea or argument, or in some cases factual information, from another source, you must also cite the source. Some students think that changing the words or paraphrasing will avoid plagiarism. This is wrong. Even if you change all the words, failure to acknowledge the source of the idea will still constitute plagiarism.

It is important that you use your own words and writing style when paraphrasing. If you have to copy short phrases from a source, you must put them in quotation marks. You must not create the impression that it is your own work or a paraphrase in your own words when it is not. Paraphrasing closely without due acknowledgement may still constitute plagiarism.

There are different ways of citing and referencing a source. You will need to follow the form and style of citation and referencing within your discipline.

Find out more about citation and referencing styles

Examples of plagiarism and how to avoid it, using the Chicago style ‘author-date’ referencing system:

Example 1
The passage in Version 1 appeared in a research paper submitted by an undergraduate student. If you read this passage, you may think it is the original work of the student. In fact, it was copied almost word for word from Wu, Richard WS, and Grace LK Leung. 2000. “Media Policy and Regulation in the Age of Convergence: The Hong Kong Experience.” Hong Kong Law Journal 30: 454-475. Although that article was listed in the reference section at the end of the paper, this passage still constitutes plagiarism. The copied passage has not been identified, and the source has not been provided immediately. Plagiarism of this kind can easily be avoided by putting the passage in quotation marks and providing the source article at the end of the passage, as shown in Version 2. Alternatively, you may provide the full reference by way of a footnote or an endnote. You can then offer some comments of your own on the passage.

Version 1 Version 2
Competition Policy and Law
As the convergence phenomenon continues, cross-media acquisitions will increase, leading to both a growing level of horizontal integration amongst the bigger players and an intensified concentration in the market. In Hong Kong, the classic example of such cross-media acquisitions is provided by the takeover in August 2000 of Cable and Wireless (HKT) Limited, the largest player in the telecommunications sector, by Pacific Century Cyberworks Limited, a new internet company set up only one year earlier by Richard Li, the son of Hong Kong tycoon, Li Ka Shing.
Competition Policy and Law
“As the convergence phenomenon continues, cross-media acquisitions will increase, leading to both a growing level of horizontal integration amongst the bigger players and an intensified concentration in the market… In Hong Kong, the classic example of such cross-media acquisitions is provided by the takeover in August 2000 of Cable and Wireless (HKT) Limited, the largest player in the telecommunications sector, by Pacific Century Cyberworks Limited, a new internet company set up only one year earlier by Richard Li, the son of Hong Kong tycoon, Li Ka Shing.” (Wu and Leung 2000, 461-462).

Example 2
The following passage is taken from Lai, Lawrence WC. 1997. Town Planning in Hong Kong: A Critical Review. Hong Kong: City University of Hong Kong Press.

Original text
Historically, the rise of planning as a profession has been heavily influenced by European pre-war economic thought and political experience. The planning profession has come to encompass the techniques, activities, procedures, and management of government intervention in spatial and socioeconomic affairs in terms of the issues of externalities and public goods. It is worth noting, for example, that Pigou’s The Economics of Welfare (1920) provides justification for government intervention on the grounds of resource allocation efficiency.

Now consider the passage in Version 1. Although it is not a direct copy of Lai’s work, the idea is clearly taken from Lai. The language is similar, and the example is clearly that of Lai. In the absence of acknowledgement, this passage constitutes plagiarism as it conveys to an ordinary reader a reasonable impression that this passage is the original work and idea of the student. An honest way to do it will look like Version 2.

Version 1 Version 2
The town planning profession is heavily influenced by European pre-war economic thought and political experience. Not only has the planning profession adopted the techniques, activities and procedures prevalent in Europe, but it has also embraced political beliefs such as management of government intervention in spatial and socioeconomic affairs in terms of the issues of externalities and public goods. For example, Pigou’s The Economics of Welfare (1920) provides strong justification for government intervention on the grounds of resource allocation efficiency. According to Lai (1997, 12), the town planning profession is “heavily influenced by European pre-war economic thought and political experience.” Not only has the planning profession adopted the techniques, activities and procedures prevalent in Europe, but it has also embraced political beliefs such as management of government intervention in spatial and socioeconomic affairs in terms of the issues of externalities and public goods. Lai (1997, 12) referred to Pigou’s The Economics of Welfare (1920) as an example of arguing for government intervention on the grounds of “resource allocation efficiency”.

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