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Academic Integrity - Referencing, Citation & Avoiding Plagiarism: Plagiarism Examples

This guide explains what referencing and citation is and how to use the APA, Chicago, Harvard, MLA and Vancouver Styles. It includes links to each style guide.

Plagiarism Examples in Academic Practice

Each of the anonymised and adapted cases of plagiarism on this page are outlined in order to help you recognize plagiarism in academic practice. All examples were referred to UCD's Student Discipline Procedure and received a sanction. Read through each of these examples and think about how the student may have avoided plagiarizing.

We have lots of resources on this guide to help you manage time, plan assignments, and cite and reference appropriately. UCD Writing Centre offer a free-of-charge service dedicated to supporting UCD students.

If you find yourself under pressure or stress to finish an assignment, ensure you contact your module coordinator to discuss your options around an extension or extenuating circumstances. You can also seek help from your student adviser who can facilitate communications and ways to solve problems. UCD has a student counselling service with superb in-person and online supports.

Example 1

Undergraduate Module

An essay was submitted by a student who had already submitted the same essay for another module within their programme in the previous year. The examiner noted that the essay only partially addressed the topic of the given assignment. The student stated that they did not know anything about self-plagiarism and thought it would be acceptable to submit an essay again, because it was their own work. 

Note: Self-plagiarism occurs when a student submits their own work which has already received credit. It is important to be aware of the different types of plagiarism, as unintentional plagiarism can still result in a sanction. 

Example 2

Undergraduate, Thesis Module

Examiners noted irregularities and unusual characteristics in a student's undergraduate thesis. Much of the content of the thesis did not relate to the research conducted by the student. Another person’s name was discovered to be associated with the file submitted by the student. The examiner was able to trace the source material to an “essay mill” type website. In this case, the student admitted that they had submitted a thesis which they had bought online from an ‘essay mill.’

Example 3

Taught Masters, Thesis Module

A student was asked to prepare a presentation to summarise their thesis preparation. The work submitted contained no quotes, citations or references to academic works. In addition there were significant unacknowledged sections that were taken from another student's masters thesis which was found to be freely available online. 

The examples of plagiarism in this case include

  • several instances where the student quoted verbatim from a text that was not cited
  • multiple instances where the student quoted extensively (paragraphs at a time) from a masters’ thesis available online
  • verbatim quotation from numerous websites without citation or attribution
  • quotation from academic work without appropriate page number(s)

Example 4

Taught Masters, Professional Learning Journal Module

A student was assigned a task to reflect on learning gained during four of the module’s classes. The student had to then produce a summary reflection essay exploring how this learning might be further applied to their own development and practice. The assignment required reflection on discussions that took place during classes, assigned readings and demonstration of connections made to other learning attained across the programme.  

In this case the student directly quoted from academic texts and used ideas without either quotation marks or citation. There were several examples where the student had quoted extensively from a journal article without appropriate acknowledgement.  In a number of instances, citations were used for ideas that did not correlate with the papers referenced in the assignment. 

The examples of plagiarism here were

  • misrepresentation of the work of academics whose work was cited
  • quotation from assigned readings without quotation marks or attribution (citation or references)
  • quotation without clear attribution or page number
  • quotation from other academic journals without attribution