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When writing your thesis, you should ensure you don’t use another person’s ideas or words in a way that would suggest they are your own.

Unintentional plagiarism can occur where students are careless and use inefficient note taking systems. Notes taken without accurate documentation or the use of quotation marks could later inadvertently be used in the mistaken belief that they were your own words.

Rules of conduct

Lester (1987, p. 78) provides the following rules of conduct when using the material of others:

  • Acknowledge borrowed material within the text by introducing the quotation or paraphrase with the name of the authority. This practice serves to indicate where the borrowed materials begin.
  • Enclose all quoted material within quotation marks.
  • Ensure that paraphrased material is rewritten into your own style and language. The simple rearrangement of sentence patterns is unacceptable. Do not alter the essential idea of the source.
  • Provide specific in-text documentation for each borrowed item.
  • Provide a bibliographic entry for every source cited in the paper.

Academic misconduct

ECU regards academic misconduct of any form as unacceptable. Academic misconduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • plagiarism;
  • unauthorised collaboration;
  • cheating in examinations; and
  • theft of other students’ work.

The university defines academic misconduct as follows:

"academic misconduct" means any conduct by a student in relation to academic work that is dishonest or unfair and includes but is not limited to plagiarism, unauthorised collaboration, cheating in assessment and/or theft of another student’s work.

"cheating" means conduct in any assessment that is dishonest.

"plagiarism" means to knowingly or unknowingly present as one’s own work the ideas or writings of another without appropriate acknowledgment or referencing. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • paraphrasing or copying text without acknowledgment of the source; and/or
  • copying, whether identically or in essence, the text of another student’s assignment or other students’ assignments; and/or
  • copying, whether identically or in essence, visual representations, e.g. cartoons, line drawings, photos, paintings and computer programs.

Applicable penalty

A staff member who has reasonable grounds to believe that a candidate has committed some form of academic misconduct will discuss the matter with the candidate. If some form of academic misconduct has been committed then an appropriate penalty will be applied as outlined in University Statute 22: Student Obligations.

For further information, see the University Rules on Academic Misconduct Rules (students).


Effective paraphrasing and referencing is an important part of developing good academic writing skills. There are several workshops to assist you with avoiding plagiarism. These include:

  • Getting Started as a Research Student @ ECU;
  • Academic Writing: Paraphrasing and Paragraphing; and
  • Reviewing the Literature.


Before submission, you’re required to check all writing, including your research proposal, by using Turnitin, a software program that can detect improperly cited or misappropriated text.

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