Academic integrity series: 1. Plagiarism prevention at UP: the how, what, and why

Posted on September 30, 2022


Academic integrity and plagiarism issues have been a global phenomenon. Tertiary institutions need to support and train students to avoid these issues. This document will give a brief overview of plagiarism where we will define and discuss different types of plagiarism. It will discuss and address how lecturers can manage, collaborate, and support anti-plagiarism. It will furthermore discuss issues concerning plagiarism and Turnitin as well as key issues students struggle with concerning plagiarism. The role of the University of Pretoria Department of Library Services (DLS) through training and other existing plagiarism products and services will be explained and discussed.  Finally, we will discuss how collaboration between Academic Departments and the DLS, can proactively raise awareness and decrease the number of students who commit plagiarism.

The University of Pretoria (UP) Plagiarism Policy

One of the most important issues is how different departments and individual lecturers manage and see plagiarism.  The Office of the registrar at UP, therefore, compiled and updated the UP Plagiarism Prevention Policy in 2019.  This policy serves as a framework with guidelines on how to detect, prevent and manage plagiarism fairly and consistently. The policy includes a standardised definition and discusses relevant facts and issues concerning plagiarism.

Definition of Plagiarism

The UP Policy defines plagiarism as follows:

“Plagiarism is the presentation of someone else’s work, words, images, ideas, opinions, discoveries, artwork, music, recordings, or computer-generated work (including circuitry, computer programs or software, websites, the Internet, or other electronic resources) whether published or not, as one’s own work or alternatively appropriating the work, words, images, ideas, opinions, discoveries, artwork, music, recordings or computer-generated work (including circuitry, computer programs or software, websites, the Internet or other electronic resource) of others, without properly acknowledging the source.”

This definition gives a clear description of the term plagiarism and ensures a consistent understanding and application of the term.  It is important to understand that plagiarism is more than just copying and pasting, or using somebody else’s work as your own without acknowledgement.  Anything that is not your own needs to be acknowledged. There are different types of plagiarism that students and researchers should be aware of.    

Types of Plagiarism

Turnitin, the software that UP uses to check for similarities within assignments and research papers, conducted a student survey and identified ten different types of plagiarism that students commit.   The most frequent type of plagiarism that students commit, is verbatim copy and pasting without acknowledgement. Alternatively, they would replace limited words with keywords or synonyms but keep the original text the same. Other forms of plagiarism include the following:

  • Self-plagiarism occurs when previous assignments are resubmitted without acknowledgement or when postgraduate students publish articles based on their masters or PhD and do not acknowledge themselves.
  • Mixing original sentences from different sources into a new whole, or just having loose standing paraphrased text, with no indication of logical flow, understanding, and individual input.
  • Paraphrasing with no acknowledgement, or incorrect paraphrasing with little changes, but where the text remains too close to the original text, although acknowledged.    
  • Make-up or source-based plagiarism is where an author incorrectly references sources or mentions reference sources that do not exist.

What is the difference between paraphrasing, quoting, and summarising?

Paraphrasing is taking somebody else’s work, reading it, understanding it, and rewriting it.  The same message and idea must be conveyed in one’s own words. With quoting one must use the exact same words within quotation marks. Summarising is for instance reading an article of twenty pages and discussing the key concepts of the research in two or three pages critically. 

With all three of these methods, one needs to think critically and analytically and give an accurate interpretation. In-text referencing and acknowledgement of the original author in all three methods are compulsory to avoid plagiarism.


Turnitin is the software that UP uses to detect similarity. Each Turnitin report must be evaluated on its own. Subject knowledge should be used to distinguish between similarity that is not plagiarism and similarity due to bad paraphrasing or other forms of plagiarism. Lecturers should understand and know how Turnitin works and the report should be read.  The Turnitin factsheets and training that are offered are important for this process.

Collaboration between Academic Departments and the DLS

Although there are many uncertainties and confusion about plagiarism, the level of plagiarism can be reduced by incorporating compulsory plagiarism and academic writing within the academic curricula.

The DLS offers a variety of services and products that could be integrated into the academic curriculum to ensure that awareness increases and plagiarism are reduced. Collaboration and partnerships between departments and the DLS where plagiarism training is linked to assignment marks and compulsory training are essential and of critical importance. The products and services include the following:

The DLS Website

The DLS website links to the plagiarism page which gives an overview of plagiarism for lecturers and students These tools include the following:

The website also links to a referencing page where the DLS makes faculty referencing guides available. The Research guide is an excellent tool for all students and researchers which supplies information on academic writing and paraphrasing.

Hybrid Training 

Weekly hybrid anti-plagiarism, academic writing, and Turnitin training session are offered. Students can book online to attend a training session. Evaluations take place and questions are asked to the online students to ensure participation. These sessions are interactive and feedback is received from each student.

Click-UP Self-paced training courses

The DLS developed the basic, advanced and anti-plagiarism self-paced ClickUP courses, which can be accessed easily and be done in a student’s own time.  Assessments have to be completed and an average of at least 70% is needed before the proof of completion document can be printed. The link for these courses can be included within specific modules.  Compulsory training could be linked to a specific assignment and credit given for proof of attendance.


The Research Commons of the DLS also regularly offers young researchers workshops.


In conclusion, academic writing and plagiarism go hand in hand. Academic departments can partner with the DLS to increase skills in this regard. A standardised reference style for faculties can decrease the confusion concerning referencing. Compulsory plagiarism and academic writing training as well as clear referencing guidelines, will not only increase skills but will also contribute to a decrease in the number of students who commit plagiarism. The DLS is looking forward to partnering with you to successfully increase the academic writing and plagiarism skills at UP and prevent the common issue of plagiarism as far as possible.

Other titles in the series:

- Author Gerda Ehlers

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