By now you should be aware that the university takes academic honesty very seriously. When you began your degree you were required to complete the Academic Honesty Education Module (AHEM) on Canvas. By completing the module the uni believes that you have a fair understanding of what’s expected of you.

Academic dishonesty includes incorrect referencing, plagiarism, recycling your own work, buying an essay or getting someone (whether you paid them or not) to write all or part of your assignment (contract cheating), cheating in an exam or referring to prohibited material during an exam. More examples can be found on the uni’s website. https://www.sydney.edu.au/students/academic-dishonesty.html

Plagiarism can arise if you:

  • use someone else’s words from a source without including quotation marks around those words. (e.g. through a cut and paste from the internet)
  • use someone else’s words, or ideas, or facts without a reference or citation at the end of the sentence indicating where you found the words, ideas or facts.
  • use someone else’s words, ideas or facts without also writing the source you used in the reference list (or bibliography) so the source can be found.
  • use or copy another student’s work, or reuse work that you have previously submitted for assessment without prior approval from your Unit Coordinator.

If you are an undergraduate you are not likely to be writing something purely original. Referencing is important because the marker wants to know what you have learnt from the material you have read. If you don’t use quotation marks and references for someone else’s words or ideas then the marker will assume it’s all your work. If the marker finds words from a source that you have not told them about then they will think you are being dishonest.
Referencing styles (such as footnotes, Harvard etc) vary across the University but the main test is whether you have made it clear where each separate word, idea or fact can be found. You might need several references in any given paragraph.

They care about this because:

  • it is a clear rule you could be breaking
  • you get an unfair advantage if you pass off someone else’s work as your own work.
  • it is an important part of the academic practice they are teaching you.
  • they are marking you on what you know – not what the source knows.

The University uses similarity detection software and other methods to identify and highlight any similarities in written work. This includes assignments such as math based problems and coding. If you copy any of a classmate’s current or past work, the software will identify this similarity. If it is a new assessment you need to do new work and use new words; you cannot reuse work you previously submitted, unless you have approval from your unit coordinator/examiner.

Many cases of academic dishonesty occur when students are under pressure and make poor decisions or are focused on getting something in on time, without paying attention to referencing correctly.

If you are stressed or struggling to complete an assignment, we encourage you to talk to your Unit Coordinator, they may be able to give you some helpful advice, or give you a simple extension of up to 2 days.

If you are struggling to meet the deadline because you’ve been unwell or are being impacted by personal circumstances, consider applying for special consideration.

If in doubt, you can talk to a SRC Caseworker. Email us at help@src.usyd.edu.au