According to the Institutional Plagiarism Framework:

Plagiarism involves the unacknowledged use of someone else’s work and passing it off as if it were one’s own. This may occur for many reasons.

The University’s commitment to academic integrity

Academic integrity is important because, without honesty and trust, true academic discourse becomes impossible, learning is distorted and the evaluation of student progress and academic quality is seriously compromised. Consequently, the University is committed to:

  1. Defending the academic credibility and reputation of the institution
  2. Protecting the standards of its awards
  3. Ensuring that its students receive due credit for the work they submit for assessment
  4. Advising its students of the need for academic integrity, and providing them with guidance on best practice in studying and learning
  5. Educating its students about what intellectual property is, why it matters, how to protect their own, and how to legitimately access other people's
  6. Protecting the interests of those students who do not cheat.

However, some students do plagiarise deliberately, sometimes because they are unable or unwilling to do the required work, and with the intent to deceive and gain academic benefit. This is a conscious, pre-mediated form of cheating and is regarded as a serious breach of the core values of the University and damaging to the reputation of the University and its programmes.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is understood to include, in whatever format it is presented (written work, online submissions, group work or oral presentations) the following:

  • The act of copying or paraphrasing a paper from a source text, whether in manuscript, printed or electronic form, without appropriate acknowledgement (this includes quoting directly from another source with a reference but without quotation marks)
  • The submission of all or part of another student’s work, whether with or without that student’s knowledge or consent
  • The commissioning or use of work by the student which is not his/her own and representing it as if it were
  • The submission of all or part of work purchased or obtained from a commercial service
  • The submission of all or part of work written by another person, whether by another member of the University or a person who is not a member of the University
  • Reproduction of the same or almost identical own work, in full or in part, for more than one module or unit of assessment of the same Lancaster University programme of study
  • Directly copying from model solutions/answers made available in previous years.

What checks are in place?

The University is extremely keen to help students create original, properly referenced work, and has several mechanisms working together to help achieve this.

Firstly, if work is handed in that isn't original, it is checked by the lecturers, who are, of course, experts in their subjects, and who also have a fair idea of what their students are capable of producing.

The situation for someone who has plagiarised is roughly similar to that of someone who has forged a banknote and then presents it to an expert on banknotes for checking. Consequently, a lot of students who hand in work that isn't theirs get caught.

In addition, to assist lecturers who believe that part or all of a piece of work was copied from the internet, the University uses a tool that collates matches with the internet to produce a report on what was copied, and from where.

We do not currently allow students to use the Turnitin service to check their work for plagiarism before an assignment submission. This decision has been made as we've found that students who do put their work through the system alter their work in order to try and lower their originality score (a score provided by Turnitin that represents how much of a submissions is matched to other sources). These changes tend to be destructive to the work and lower the academic quality.

Understanding Turnitin originality reports can be difficult and high scores do not always represent plagiarism.

If you would like to use the Turnitin system to check your work you will need to contact your academic department to discuss.