What is plagiarism?

You may have heard "plagiarism" (and the need to avoid it) mentioned by your lecturers but be unclear what it is.

It is not only acceptable, but expected, that you will refer to the work of others in your academic writing.  This gives authority to the points you are making and demonstrates the breadth of your reading.  However, you MUST provide appropriate citations and references when you do so.

Plagiarism occurs when you use other people's work without acknowledging that you have done so by citing your sources and providing references for them.


This guide explains the APA style of referencing. If you follow the APA style correctly you will avoid any risk of plagiarism.

If in doubt, reference!

What is paraphrasing? What is quoting?



This is where you express somebody else's ideas, theories, opinions etc. in your own words. This should be the main way you cover the material, using your own words to describe it rather than direct quotes.

Even if ideas, theories, opinions etc that you have taken from other people's work are reproduced in your work in your own words you still need to reference.  If you do not, this will constitute plagiarism.

Another form of plagiarism is to copy and paste the words of others (even if changing a few of the words), whether or not a citation and reference are given. You must put things into your own words.

Only information which is considered general knowledge, or common knowledge within your field of study, does not have to be referenced.

More information on plagiarism can be found on the RGU Study Skills unit’s section on Moodle, or in the following books available from the RGU Library, each of which has a relevant chapter:

Parson, V. (2018). Study and Communication Skills for Psychology (any edition). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Smyth, T. R. (2004). The Principles of Writing in Psychology. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.  




Quotation is taking the exact words written by someone else and reproducing them in your work.

Short quotations should be contained within your paragraph of text, but enclosed within quotation marks (double inverted commas).

Quotations of 40 words or longer should be indented as a separate paragraph and do not require quotation marks.

All quotations need to be referenced properly.  If they are not this constitutes plagiarism

Unless you are quoting from material which does not have page numbers, you will always need a page number as part of your in text citation when quoting.