Information for students
On this page:
- your responsibilities
- why does plagiarism matter
- using commercial organisations and essay banks
- how the University detects and disciplines plagiarism
It is your responsibility to:
- Read, and ensure that you understand, the University-wide statement on plagiarism which defines plagiarism and the forms that it can take. The statement follows the Regulations for discipline in Statutes and Ordinances.
- Familiarise yourself with guidance issued by your faculty or department which outlines the referencing techniques and other academic conventions that you will be expected to adhere to.
- Ensure that you always follow these conventions, and ask for clarification or support if you need it from your Director of Studies or Tutor. If in doubt about any aspect of academic integrity it is always best to seek clarification at an early stage.
Remember the Golden Rule: THE EXAMINERS MUST BE LEFT IN NO DOUBT AS TO WHICH PARTS OF ANY SUBMISSION ARE YOUR OWN ORIGINAL WORK AND WHICH ARE NOT.
Although it might be tempting to think of plagiarism as only a minor form of cheating, or as a simple matter of academic etiquette, this is far from accurate. Indeed, it is essential that plagiarism should be understood as a breach of academic integrity. Academic reputations can be destroyed because of plagiarism. Everyone involved in scholarly work, whether senior or junior members of an academic institution, are members of an institutional community which aims to uphold intellectual honesty and transparency. This means that due respect should be given to the originators of ideas, data and works being consulted. An absence of such demonstrable respect (through appropriate referencing) means that people have failed to complete the learning process; it is unethical and can have lasting negative consequences for future careers.
So intentional plagiarism matters because you would be letting yourself down, you would spoil your reputation as a scholar, disciplinary procedures would follow, and there might be lasting consequences which could limit your job prospects. It matters too because you would be letting your institution down; it undermines the fundamental tenets of scholarly discourse.
Writing for commercial organisations or submitting work to essay banks for financial gain undermines the academic system. Working on your own degree is a far better investment than the short term profit to be gained by selling work to such companies. You should contact your Tutor if you have financial concerns: you should never need to resort to selling your work.
Similarly, buying work and submitting it as your own is unethical and a waste of the study opportunities open to you at Cambridge.
Your examiners are experts in their field and are therefore extremely likely to spot work that has been copied from another source or not referenced appropriately. Your faculty or department may also check the authenticity of your work by using specialist software which can detect plagiarism. This can identify work submitted by another student, even if they are studying at another University.
Any suspected cases of plagiarism will be investigated by the University. This might involve initially being interviewed by the Examiners and Proctors and could ultimately lead to suspension from the University or failure.
For downloadable guidance, including University Discipline regulations, see an extract from the Student Handbook: