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Product Design: Information Literacy

Resource guide for Industrial Design students

Copyright and Plagiarism


What is Plagiarism?

" Most simply, plagiarism is intellectual theft. Any use of another author’s research, ideas, or language without proper attribution may be considered plagiarism."


It is unethical and illegal to submit someone else's work as your own - it is the same as stealing.

Plagiarism can take various forms. It can be blatant theft or accidental "borrowing". See the following examples:

  • You submit an assignment done by another student (or from a paper mill) as your own.
  • You pay another student to write an assignment for you and hand it in as your own work.
  • You copy and paste sections from someone else's work and add it to your work without acknowledging the source.

Although this sometimes happens accidentally, it is still considered plagiarism:

  • You have done a lot or reading and made notes for your assignment. At some point you find a good idea between your notes, but you can't remember whether it was your idea or someone else's. If you submit this as your own work and it turns out that it was not your idea, you have committed plagiarism.
  • If you make use of someone else's work, you must make sure that you have the correct citation information and add it to your assignment. (Citing and referencing will be discussed in more detail in step 5 of this course.)



What is referencing and why is it necessary?

Referencing is a standardised method of acknowledging the sources of information you have consulted. Anything - words, figures, theories, ideas, facts - originating from another source and used in your assignment must be referenced (i.e. acknowledged).
Referencing is done for the following reasons:

Let's look at an example:

You are writing an assignment about "Compiling a CV" and you consulted a book of J P Rendell, called "Getting that job: a guide to writing your own CV". In this book you have found a quotation that you want to include in your assignment. You do that as follows:

"Writing a CV is similar to writing a sales letter - you are, in fact, selling yourself - your skills and aptitudes." (Rendell, 1986:36). The following is an example of the bibliographic entry when using the Harvard Referencing Style:


Rendell, J.P. 1986. Getting that job: a guide to writing your own CV. 2nd ed. London: Clive Bingley

How to evaluate information