FAQ

What is an example of a frequent form of accidental plagiarism?

As part of your academic skills, you are expected to develop your own view which questions existing views and to be able to defend this view clearly and convincingly. It is therefore essential that there is clear demarcation between your own ideas and those of others. The example given below demonstrates two types of plagiarism: the student has adhered to the formulation of the source too closely and it is unclear where the student’s own view starts (in fact there is no own view, but the text suggests that the second paragraph gives the student’s opinion).

original

Mason (1997: 298): “The personal benefits from working to agreed safety procedures are often non-existent in an organisation. By comparison, individuals may see many benefits of breaking rules and procedures, in addition to the financial gains which can often arise.

            Instances are often reported of people being praised for their initiatives if they improvise to ‘get the job done’ under difficult conditions. The violating of rules and procedures which this involves may appear to have been condoned as long as they did not result in unwanted events such as injury or plant damage.

            An attitude often develops where strictly adhering to the rules is seen as conflicting with the objectives of the organisation – e.g., where working to rule is an industrial or commercial threat.

source: Mason, S. (1997). Procedural violations – causes, costs and cures. In: F. Redmill & J. Rajan (eds). Human factors in safety-critical systems (pp. 287-318). Oxford etc.: Butterworth-Heinemann.

plagiarism

According to Mason (1997), working to agreed safety procedures often creates no personal benefits. On the contrary, people may see many benefits of breaking rules and procedures, in addition to the financial gains which can often arise.

            People are often praised when they improvise to get the job done under difficult conditions, by violating rules and procedures. Strictly adhering to the rules is often seen as incompatible with the objectives of the organisation.

correct version (paraphrase)

Mason (1997) argues that violating safety rules and procedures often has advantages, according to the organisation and workers themselves. He sees it as a danger that following the rules is interpreted as harming the interests of the organisation.

correct version (quotation)

Mason (1997) argues that violating rules and procedures often has advantages, according to the organisation and workers themselves. Strictly adhering to the rules risks to be seen, he says , “as conflicting with the objectives of the organisation – e.g., where working to rule is an industrial or commercial threat” (298).

What are the consequences if I commit plagiarism?

TPM’s Course and Examination Regulations contain the following articles on this:

  • The board of examiners is watchful of the quality of studies offered and takes action against every form of fraud and plagiarism. Examiners and lecturers report fraud to the board in all end products. (There is ‘fraud information’ on the TPM-Campus-website)
  • The board of examiners can bar all students found guilty of copying, cheating or riding along on the efforts of others from all tests and examinations held by the institute for up to one year.
What is better: a quotation or paraphrasing?

It is almost always better to paraphrase rather than quote a source. In the case of legal topics and questions of definition the precise formulation may be relevant, but in most cases the important thing is the idea. A text containing many long quotations comes across as unprofessional: as if the writer has simply gathered together extracts instead of processing the ideas into his or her own argument. Moreover, ideas can often be explained more succinctly in your own words.

Too many quotations can also cause copyright problems: it is prohibited to copy large extracts of text or diagrams which are subject to copyright.

When do I not need to name a source?

You do not need to quote the source of generally available information which is easy to find and undisputed, on condition that you use your own words. If in doubt as to whether something is standard knowledge: name your source.

Example

In Wikipedia (consulted on 18 August 2009) you will find the following information:

“The second law of thermodynamics is an axiom of thermodynamics concerning heat, entropy, and the direction in which thermodynamic processes can occur. For example, the second law implies that heat does not flow spontaneously from a cold material to a hot material, but it allows heat to flow from a hot material to a cold material. Roughly speaking, the second law says that in an isolated system, concentrated energy disperses over time, and consequently less concentrated energy is available to do useful work. Energy dispersal also means that differences in temperature, pressure, and density even out. Again roughly speaking, thermodynamic entropy is a measure of energy dispersal, and so the second law is closely connected with the concept of entropy.”

Do not use Wikipedia in an academic text: it is better to turn to academic textbooks which are more reliable. If you find the same information in all textbooks, you do not need to name your source if you include it in your own text:

  • The second law of thermodynamics implies that heat does not flow spontaneously from a cold material to a hot material, but it allows heat to flow from a hot material to a cold material.

The words used are so general that it is not a problem in this case that these are not strictly your own words. It becomes riskier if you copy a longer and more specific extract, even if the content is still generally known to be true:

  • The second law says that in an isolated system, concentrated energy disperses over time, and consequently less concentrated energy is available to do useful work. Energy dispersal also means that differences in temperature, pressure, and density even out. Roughly speaking, thermodynamic entropy is a measure of energy dispersal, and so the second law is closely connected with the concept of entropy.”

As you are copying the original formulation almost in its entirety, it is better to name your source. (Second law … 2009)

Bibliography

Second law of thermodynamics. Wikipedia. (2009, 16-08-2009). Retrieved 18-09-2009 from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_law_of_thermodynamics

May I use sources such as Wikipedia?

Although the information in Wikipedia is usually reasonably reliable, it is not an academic source. Its use makes your text come across as non-academic. It is better to use original sources or textbooks. You will often find these quoted at the bottom of the page. If you do use Wikipedia, you must name your source, otherwise this is plagiarism.

Which system should I use for naming sources?

There are hundreds of systems, and academic journals also often have their own versions. Teaching staff may prescribe a specific style, e.g. one of the four most commonly-used systems:

  • APA
  • Chicago Manual of Style
  • Harvard
  • Number style (e.g. IEEE)

See TULIB for examples of each style. It is challenging to apply a style completely correctly unless you use a program such as Endnote. Make sure you are consistent and that you include the elements required by all systems: from page numbers for an article to the place name for a book.

How do I keep track of all my sources? Using Endnote.

Endnote is a very handy database program for saving sources. With just a few clicks you can input search results from Scopus, Web or Science or other databases, place a source quotation in your text and automatically create a bibliography: cite while you write. See http://www.endnote.com/. You can easily change from one system (e.g. numbers) to another (e.g. APA). You can also use other programs such as Zotero or Reference Manager, but Endnote can be downloaded for free via Blackboard (student info) and is supported by TU Delft Library (click here)

We recommend it for use in your Master’s degree thesis, but also if you do any prior literature study.

How do I quote a source which I found in another source?

You may only refer to information which you have yourself not seen if you clearly indicate that it is quoted second-hand. If you have found an idea from Johnson (2006) in Anderson (2008), you refer to it as follows: Johnson (2006, quoted in Anderson, 2008). You only include works which you yourself have seen in the bibliography, i.e. Anderson (2008).

Example:

  • While over the short term these programs may be rational with respect to public or private policy objectives, over the longer term many result in both economic inefficiency and the erosion of natural services (Turner and Jones, 1991 as cited in Balmford et al., 2002).

Always look for the original source, only if you really cannot find it can you use the above construction.

How do I deal with internet sources?

A text which mainly refers to internet sources is not truly academic. Some internet sources are of course reliable because they are supported by a reliable organisation (e.g. a government body, such as http://www.energy.gov/). Remember that less reliable information can also be placed on the sites of reliable organisations by individual employees (e.g. TU Delft).

Make sure to reference your source precisely, using the same data you would use for a regular publication but by adding the date of consultation.

Example:

References in texts to web publications with long titles are usually abbreviated: (see National report on the joint …, 2009). Give the full reference in your bibliography.

How do I refer to an article in a digital journal?

If the article exists on paper as well as in digital form, no URL and no consultation date are required. If applicable, add ‘Electronic version’ after the title.

Whitmeyer, J.M. (2000). Power through appointment [Electronic version]. Social Science Research, 29, 535-555.

Do I also need to refer to course material?

When you copy information from course material, e.g. PowerPoint slides, readers or similar, you must name your source as usual. Only if it involves generally available information, expressed in your own words, no reference is required. If in doubt: name your source!

Example:

Ubacht, J. (2009) Powerpointslides for EPA2941 Master Thesis. Delft, Delft University of Technology, Department TPM.

 

 

What do I do if I took all the information for one chapter from a single source?

We do not recommend basing an entire chapter on a single source. If it cannot be avoided, include a sentence at the start of the chapter like: “All information in this chapter is based on Source X (20XX).” This avoids repeat referrals to the same source. You still have to use your own words!

What is an acceptable paraphrase?

If you copy more than two or three consecutive words from a text, or use a term which is used in a unique fashion in the source, this is generally not an acceptable paraphrase. The example given below contains too many original formulations, including the grammatical constructions. Furthermore, ‘commodity service provider’ and ‘strategic partner’ are such crucial terms in the original that writers may not give the impression that they have thought of the terms themselves. This applies much less to terms such as ‘vulnerability’.

Note that the dividing line between the authors’ view and that of the student is unclear: the second paragraph wrongly appears to be the student’s view.

original (Van Grembergen & De Haes 2009:1-2)

“Information technology (IT) has become pervasive in current dynamic and often turbulent business environments. While in the past, business executives could delegate, ignore or avoid IT decisions, this is now impossible in most sectors and industries. This major IT dependency implies a huge vulnerability that is inherently present in IT environments. System and network downtime has become far too costly for any organization these days, as doing business globally around the clock has become the standard. Take for example the impact of downtime in the banking sector or in a medical environment. The risk factor is accompanied by a wide spectrum of external threats, such as errors and omissions, abuse, cyber crime and fraud.

            IT of course has the potential not only to support existing business strategies, but also to shape new strategies. In this mindset, IT becomes not only a success factor for survival and prosperity, but also an opportunity to differentiate and to achieve competitive advantage. In this viewpoint, the IT department moves from a commodity service provider to a strategic partner.”

source

Grembergen, W. van & Haes, S. de (2009). EnterpriseGovernance of Information Technology. Boston: Springer.

plagiarism

Information technology (IT) has become omnipresent in current business environments. While in the past, managers could delegate, ignore or avoid IT decisions, this is now impossible in most situations. This IT dependency implies an enormous vulnerability. System and network downtime has become far too expensive for any organization these days. Take for example the impact of downtime for banks or hospitals. In addition, there are all kinds of external threats, such as errors and omissions, abuse, cyber crime and fraud.5

                        IT of course has the potential not only to support existing business strategies, but also to shape new strategies. In this way, IT becomes not only a success factor for survival and prosperity, but also an opportunity to differentiate and to achieve competitive advantage. In this viewpoint, the IT department moves from a commodity service provider to a strategic partner.

 

            5 Grembergen, W. van & Haes, S. de (2009). EnterpriseGovernance of Information Technology. Boston: Springer.

 

correct version

Van Grembergen & De Haes (2009) argue that dependence on information technology (IT) has made companies vulnerable: they cannot afford any downtime caused by errors or fraud. They see the IT department move from “a commodity service provider” to “a strategic partner” (2).

How do you quote two or more references in the same brackets?

APA prescribes an alphabetical sequence:

Various studies have shown (Balda, 1980; Kamil, 1988; Pepperberg & Funk, 1990)...

If you wish to single out the most important source, you can do so as follows:

(Minor, 2001; see also Adams, 1999; Storandt, 1997)

What does a correct bibliography look like?

The list below is structured using the APA system and contains various types of sources (books, chapters in collections, internet sources, reports, journal articles).

 

Bibliography

Lagendijk, A. (2008). Survival guide for scientists. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Mason, S. (1997). Procedural violations – causes, costs and cures. In: F. Redmill & J. Rajan (eds). Human factors in safety-critical systems (pp. 287-318). Oxford etc.: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Sterk, W., Mehling, M. & Tuerk, A. (2009). Prospects of linking EU and US Emission Trading Schemes. Wuppertal Institut für Klima, Umwelt, Energie. Retrieved 21 August 2009 from http://www.wupperinst.org/publikationen/entnd/index.html?beitrag_id=1120&bid=6

Tariq L., Gelder B.M. van, Zutphen M. van, & Feenstra T.L. (2009). Smoking cessation strategies targeting people with low socio-economic status. A first exploration of the effectiveness of available interventions. Bilthoven: RIVM.

Tidwell, L.C., & Walther, J.B. (2002). Computer-mediated communication effects on disclosure, impressions, and interpersonal evaluations: Getting to know one another a bit at a time. Human Communication Research, 28(3), 317-348.         

How is my work scanned for plagiarism?

Students’ work is scanned for plagiarism at various times during degree courses. Two plagiarism scanners are used alongside each other: SafeAssign and TurnItIN. Teaching staff also occasionally use a search engine such as Google to scan for sources.

More information: TUDelft, fraude and plagiarism  

Is it possible to plagiarise yourself?

Reusing your own text, or large extracts, e.g. for another subject or a different journal, is also a form of fraud, unless you state this at the start of the text, e.g.: ‘this text has previously been published in a different version in ...’. You can also treat the previous publication as a normal source which you paraphrase briefly, including a source quotation.

How to refer to video data?

In APA you can refer to audio-visual aids in the same way as referring to a book but you will have to add the source type between […]:

Author(s) / Producers(s), ( Year/ broadcasting date). Title[…]. Place of publication:

Production company.

                Fill in: [ Television broadcast] or [ Film] or [ Video tape] or ( CD-Rom]

For examples look at   http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/11/

( source reference December 21 2010)

References in scientific texts need to be verified easily. Often information from Television soon  falls short of these criteria