The University’s definitions on “plagiarism” are as follows:
- Plagiarism refers to “direct copying of textual material or wilful use of other people’s data and ideas, and presenting them as one’s own without acknowledgement, whether or not such materials, data and ideas have been published” (Paragraph 6, HKU’s “Regulations Governing Students’ Academic Conduct Concerning Assessment”). In other words, a person is committing plagiarism if he/she paraphrases or quotes the work of another person without clearly identifying (according to academic conventions) the borrowed material and documenting its source.
- Self-plagiarism refers to “reuse of one’s own data or repeat of previously published written work, or part thereof, in a ‘new’ publication without acknowledging that the data set has been used or written work has been published elsewhere” (Paragraph 3.1, HKU’s “Policy on Research Integrity”). For instance, if a student re-uses largely or fully the contents of his/her past assignment submitted elsewhere and without acknowledging so in the “new” assignment, it can constitute self-plagiarism.
Plagiarism is a very serious offence and it is strictly prohibited in all assignments and examinations: "A candidate shall not engage in plagiarism nor employ nor seek to employ any other unfair means at an examination or in any other form of assessment” (Paragraph 6, HKU’s “Regulations Governing Students’ Academic Conduct Concerning Assessment”). Students should use proper citations and provide sources wherever necessary.
There are severe penalties for plagiarism in the School of English. Students found plagiarizing may be failed not only in the plagiarized oral or written assignment but in the course. Their case will also be considered by a School panel which may decide on further penalties depending on the gravity of the offence. This may involve disclosure of the plagiarism committed to teachers of other courses within the School. The panel may also decide to lodge a complaint with the University's Disciplinary Committee which can result in other penalties. For details, please refer to the “Protocol on the Handling of Plagiarism” available on the Faculty’s website.
There are clear university guidelines in the “What Is Plagiarism” booklet. Students should read these guidelines carefully and revisit them from time to time, especially before submitting an assignment. Ignorance about the nature and definition of plagiarism is never an excuse and will not be accepted.
The School of English prepared the “Guidelines for Citing and Documenting Sources” (PDF) for students to download.
Please read HKU’s Turnitin webpage for information on this originality checking engine, which “offers originality checking on students' work for proper citation or potential plagiarism. Once a paper is submitted to Turnitin, it will compare with documents in a continuously updated database consisting of current and archived web pages, millions of student papers worldwide, and collections of newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, e-Books and e-Texts”.
Final advice: In case of doubt, consult your teachers or tutors.