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Niven Library - FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology Library Guide: Plagiarism

The library supports a number of themes - African ornithology, conservation biology, Antarctic and sub-antarctic biology, specifically birds.


Plagiarism has become the scourge of the 21st century written word and other forms of creative work.  The internet makes it very easy to cut and paste from articles, documents and web pages, but this must be acknowledged.  While citing the work of others is accepted practice, failing to acknowledge the work of others is regarded as plagiarism.  In teaching environments such as schools and centres of higher education, failure to acknowlege the work of others is taken very seriously, and you will be severely penalised if plagiarism is identified in your work.  This spills over into the work environment where it is taken equally seriously as this is regarded as stealing the intellectual property of another person.

Information for Staff:

The University of Cape Town is registered with a service called TurnItIn 

This is a service which is helpful for staff to identify plagiarism. Contact the Vula Help Desk to set up an account for you - or phone 021 650 5500

Information for Students:

The TurnItIn service is used widely on the university campus so students need to be aware of what to do to avoid plagiarism.  In the first place you need to know how to acknowledge or "cite" the work you have used verbatim in your text.  There are many citation styles to choose from, usually your lecturer or supervisor will tell you which one to use.  Such a document exists for the Humanaties on the Open Content web page at UCT.  You can also ask for help with referencing at the UCT Writing Centre.  If you want to know more about plagiarism at UCT then you should read the UCT guide on how to avoid plagiarism below.

Avoiding Plagiarism - A guide for students at UCT

You must always acknowledge the sources that you consulted when preparing your work.  Failing to acknowledge your sources is regarded as plagiarism.  Plagiarism is a dishonest act of taking someone else’s ideas, written work, design or research, and presenting it as your own.   This act is viewed very seriously by UCT and can even lead to expulsion.

Please click on the document above: Avoiding Plagiarism - a guide for students at UCT.

To avoid plagiarism it is important to cite and reference your sources.  The University has its own handbook on citation and related matters which can be accessed online