Fraud & Plagiarism

Stress, lack of time, a missed lecture. None of these constitute reasons to ‘stretch the rules’ and you should not be tempted to do so. You are in an academic environment where you are being educated to become an engineer with an independent mind. This includes developing an academic attitude, which involves learning to trust your own critical faculties and being assessed on your own performance. Fraud and academic misconduct, whether committed deliberately or unknowingly, do not belong in this context.

What exactly is fraud, and what different forms of fraud are there? By fraud, we mean copying, committing plagiarism, piggybacking and using fictitious research data. In more general terms, fraud means: all cases in which you suggest that something is your own work when in fact that is not the case.


Simple, old-fashioned cheating in examinations, whether it is copying or comparing with a neighbour, using a crib sheet or using some Internet-enabled device. By definition, cheating represents a clear violation of the rules. Do not be tempted to do it. Study regularly and seriously, watch practice tests and ask questions during lectures. Then you will be well prepared for your examinations and you won’t need to resort to cheating.


In science, we always base our work on the work that others have done before us. This means that you will often use texts written by others. However, it must be clear which ideas are yours and which have come from another source. To put it simply, plagiarism means copying someone else’s work and passing it off as your own. Under certain conditions, you may cite pieces directly from a much published article of other people: when the texts are not too long, the citation is placed between quotation marks and the source is included. You may paraphrase ideas, as long as you use your own words to a sufficient extent and reference the source.

The boundary between citing, paraphrasing and fraud is difficult. Even simple carelessness can, in the academic world, be interpreted as fraud, because every student and lecturer is expected to follow the rules on this issue to the letter. This is why there are  instructions for Information Literacy included in all Bachelor Programmes. Please, search in the course catalog on Brightspace for Information Literacy 1  (1st year students) or  Information Literacy2  (2nd /3rd  year students). Outside Brightspace also TUlib is available. This is  an online reference  with information about searching, referencing and correct use of source materials.

You can avoid plagiarism by asking your lecturer if you are in doubt, or visit  the university website with useful information and links about proper use of sources. Go to:


The situation can arise during a group assignment where someone makes use of the efforts of the other group members while doing little in return. This is very frustrating for those group members who are doing all the work. To avoid this, it is important to make clear agreements and take minutes of meetings. Always ask your lecturer for advice in good time if there are problems in your group and not everyone is doing their fair share.

‘Fiddling’ your research data

When carrying out research, you might be tempted to alter your data. Let’s take a user survey, for example. It is not always easy to find people in your target group for the survey. And sometimes students believe that they can quite easily put themselves in the particular target group’s position, so they supplement their survey with fabricated data. However, this constitutes fraud. By doing this, a student is violating an important principle in the work of a researcher: to carry out research work with care. In your research reports, you should therefore always explain and justify your starting point and conclusions clearly, so that the way in which you reached your results is transparent. Lecturers will check on this.

Consequences of fraud and plagiarism

Lecturers report all cases of suspected fraud to the Board of Examiners. The Board then makes a decision on the suspected fraud. If the student is found guilty, he or she can be excluded all examinations at TU Delft for the maximum of a year. This can obviously have implications for the duration and funding of your studies. In very serious cases, you may even be expelled from the university.


  • Study regularly and seriously
  • Make a study plan
  • Go to the tutorials and make use of exercise material to practise exams
  • Make sure you observe the rules on quoting, paraphrasing and stating sources correctly and carefully
  • Practise quoting and refer to examples in scientific texts
  • If in doubt, ask your lecturer for help
  • Make firm agreements about tasks during group assignments
  • Swap roles every now and then, so that you acquire the all-round experience you will need for individual assignments.
  • Do not tempt other people