The following information describes a range of services aimed at helping students to get the most out of their time on Heriot-Watt University programmes and to assist with, and remedy any problems experienced along the way.
Students are encouraged to refer to the University Flexible and Distributed Learning Code of Practice:
Students study for Heriot-Watt awards from all over the world and the University is therefore committed to providing a range of online support services which will be available to any student who requires it. In doing so, the University will attempt to ensure that all students receive high quality and relevant services that support their studies.
The main student support services are summarised below. For further information on each of the services, please refer to the online ‘Freshers Guide’:
There is a prayer room for students within the Dubai Campus.
In addition to the multi-denominational Chaplaincy, a Muslim Prayer Room is provided for students at the main University campus Edinburgh.
Student Service Centre (Edinburgh Campus)
Student Support and
Please refer to the Campus Office for further advice.
University Policy and Guidance
The University publishes many policies and reference information on its website that may be of use and of interest to students through the programme of their studies at Heriot-Watt University
Wherever practicable, University policy is designed to include all members of the University’s community, both within and out with the main campus environments.
Policies of specific interest and relevance to students can be accessed via:
This guide is intended to provide students at Heriot-Watt University with a clear definition of plagiarism and examples of how to avoid it.
The guide may also be of use to members of staff who seek to advise students on the various issues outlined below.
Plagiarism involves the act of taking the ideas, writings or inventions of another person and using these as if they were one’s own, whether intentionally or not. Plagiarism occurs where there is no acknowledgement that the writings or ideas belong to or have come from another source.
Most academic writing involves building on the work of others and this is acceptable as long as their contribution is identified and fully acknowledged. It is not wrong in itself to use the ideas, writings or inventions of others, provided that whoever does so is honest about acknowledging the source of that information. Many aspects of plagiarism can be simply avoided through proper referencing. However, plagiarism extends beyond minor errors in referencing the work of others and also includes the reproduction of an entire paper or passage of work or of the ideas and views contained in such pieces of work.
Academic work is almost always drawn from other published information supplemented by the writer’s own ideas, results or findings. Thus drawing from other work is entirely acceptable, but it is unacceptable not to acknowledge such work. Conventions or methods for making acknowledgements can vary slightly from subject to subject, and students should seek the advice of staff in their own School/Institute about ways of doing this. Generally, referencing systems fall into the Harvard (where the text citation is by author and date) and numeric (where the text citation is by using a number). Both systems refer readers to a list at the end of the piece of work where sufficient information is provided to enable the reader to locate the source for themselves.
When a student undertakes a piece of work that involves drawing on the writings or ideas of others, they must ensure that they acknowledge each contribution in the following manner:
Citations: when a direct quotation, a figure, a general idea or other piece of information is taken from another source, the work and its source must be acknowledged and identified where it occurs in the text;
Quotations: inverted commas must always be used to identify direct quotations, and the source of the quotation must be cited;
References: the full details of all references and other sources must be listed in a section at the end of any piece of work, such as an essay, together with the full publication details. This is normally referred to as a “List of References” and it must include details of any and all sources of information that the student has referred to in producing their work. (This is slightly different to a Bibliography, which may also contain references and sources which, although not directly referred to in your work, you consulted in producing your work).
Students may wish to refer to the following examples which illustrate the basic principles of plagiarism and how students might avoid it in their work by using some very simple techniques:
Example 1: A Clear Case of Plagiarism
Examine the following example in which a student has simply inserted a passage of text (in italics) into their workdirectly from a book they have read:
University and college managers should consider implementing strategic frameworks if they wish to embrace good management standards. One of the key problems in setting a strategic framework for a college or university is that the individual institution has both positive and negative constraints placed upon its freedom of action. Managers are employed to resolve these issues effectively.
This is an example of bad practice as the student makes no attempt to distinguish the passage they have inserted from their own work. Thus, this constitutes a clear case of plagiarism. Simply changing a few key words in such a passage of text (e.g. replace ‘problems’ with ‘difficulties’) does not make it the student’s work and it is still considered to be an act of plagiarism.
Students may also find the following examples2 of common plagiarism mistakes made by other students useful when reflecting on their own work:
“I thought it would be okay as long as I included the source in my bibliography” [without indicating a quotation had been used in the text]
“I made lots of notes for my essay and couldn't remember where I found the information”
“I thought it would be okay to use material that I had purchased online”
“I thought it would be okay to copy the text if I changed some of the words into my own”
“I thought that plagiarism only applied to essays, I didn't know that it also applies to oral presentations/group projects etc”
“I thought it would be okay just to use my tutor's notes”
“I didn't think that you needed to reference material found on the web”
“I left it too late and just didn't have time to reference my sources”
None of the above are acceptable reasons for failing to acknowledge the use of others’ work and thereby constitute plagiarism.
What follows are examples of the measures that students should employ in order to correctly cite the words, thought or ideas of others that have influenced their work:
Example 2: Quoting the work of others
If a student wishes to cite a passage of text in order to support their own work, the correct way of doing so is to use quotation marks (e.g. “ “) to show that the passage is someone else’s work, as follows:
“One of the key problems in setting a strategic framework for a college or university is that the individual institution has both positive and negative constraints placed upon its freedom of action”.
In addition to using quotation marks as above, students must also use a text citation. If the work being cited is a book, page numbers would also normally be required. Thus, using the Harvard system for a book:
“One of the key problems in setting a strategic framework for a college or university is that the individual institution has both positive and negative constraints placed upon its freedom of action” (Jones, 2001, p121). The same reference could also be made to a book using the numeric system:
“One of the key problems in setting a strategic framework for a college or university is that the individual institution has both positive and negative constraints placed upon its freedom of action” (Ref.1, p121). More often, a piece of work will have multiple references and this serves to show an examiner that the student is drawing from a number of sources. For example, articles by Brown and by Smith may be cited as follows in the Harvard system
“It has been asserted that Higher Education in the United Kingdom continued to be poorly funded during the 1980’s [Brown, 1991], whereas more modern writers [Smith, 2002] argue that the HE sector actually received, in real terms, more funding during this period than the thirty year period immediately preceding it”. or as follows using the numeric system:
“It has been asserted that Higher Education in the United Kingdom continued to be poorly funded during the 1980’s [Ref 1], whereas more modern writers [Ref 2] argue that the HE sector actually received, in real terms, more funding during this period than the thirty year period immediately preceding it”.
Example 4: Use of reference lists
Whichever system is used, a list must be included at the end, which allows the reader to locate the works cited for themselves. The Internet is also an increasingly popular source of information for students and details must again be provided. You should adhere to the following guidelines in all cases where you reference the work of others:
If the source is a book, the required information is as follows:
Year of Publication
Title of Book
Place of Publication
All Page Numbers cited
Edition (if more than one, e.g. 3rd edition, 2001)
If the source is from the Internet, the required information is as follows:
Author’s or Institution’s name (“Anon”, if not known)
Title of Document
Date last accessed by student
Full URL (e.g. http://www.lib.utk.edu /instruction/plagiarism/)
Affiliation of author, if given (e.g. University of Tennessee)
The way in which the information is organised can vary, and there are some types of work (for example edited volumes and conference proceedings) where the required information is slightly different. Essentially, though, it is your responsibility to make it clear where you are citing references within your work and what the source is within your reference list. Failure to do so is an act of plagiarism.
Students are encouraged to use a style of acknowledgement that is appropriate to their own academic discipline and should seek advice from their mentor, programme leader or other appropriate member of academic staff. There are also many reference sources available in the University Library which will provide useful guidance on referencing styles.
Students, supervisors and institutions have a joint role in ensuring that plagiarism is avoided in all areas of academic activity. Each role is outlined below as follows:
How you can ensure that you avoid plagiarism in your work:
Take responsibility for applying the above principles of best practice and integrity within all of your work
Be aware that your written work will be checked for plagiarism and that all incidents of plagiarism, if found, are likely to result in severe disciplinary action by the University. The standard penalty is to annul all assessments taken in the same diet of examinations (for details please refer to Regulation 50 at http://www.hw.ac.uk/ordinances/regulations.pdf and to the Guidelines for Staff and Students on Discipline at http://www.hw.ac.uk/registry/Discipline.php).
How your School/Institute will help you to avoid plagiarism:
Highlight written guidance on how you can avoid plagiarism and provide you with supplementary, verbal guidance wherever appropriate
Regularly check student work to ensure that plagiarism has not taken place. This may involve both manual and electronic methods of checking. A number of plagiarism detection packages are in use at Heriot-Watt University, one example being the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) “TurnitIn” plagiarism detection software. See https://submit.ac.uk/static_jisc/ac_uk_index.html for more information on how this software package works.
Alert you to the procedures that will apply should you be found to have committed or be suspected of having committed an act of plagiarism and explain how further action will be taken in accordance with University policy and procedures.
How the University will endeavour to reduce student plagiarism:
Provide clear written guidance on what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it directly to your School/Institute and to you
Take steps to ensure that a consistent approach is applied when dealing with cases of suspected plagiarism across the institution
Take the issue of academic dishonesty very seriously and routinely investigate cases where students have plagiarised and apply appropriate penalties in all proven cases.
1 The author acknowledges the following sources of information used in preparing this guide to Plagiarism:“Plagiarism – A Good Practice Guide”, Carroll, J and Appleton, J (2001) and various extracts from Student/Programme Handbooks 2004/2005, Schools and Institutes at Heriot-Watt University
2 Extract from ‘Plagiarism at the University of Essex’ advice copyrighted and published by the Learning, Teaching and Quality Unit at the University of Essex (http://www.essex.ac.uk/plagiarism/common_excuses.htm), reproduced with kind permission.