The University has recently updated its plagiarism policy, which is now available online at http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/univ/plagiarism/.
This substantial revision includes an amendment to the University-wide statement on plagiarism: that a student may be found guilty of an act of plagiarism irrespective of intent to deceive, and be subject to the deprivation of a degree. There are also revisions to the procedures to be followed by Examiners in handling suspected cases of plagiarism.
In full, the two revised clauses in the University-wide statement (with the additional new text in italics) are:
- Plagiarism is defined as submitting as one’s own work, irrespective of intent to deceive, that which derives in part or in its entirety from the work of others without due acknowledgement. It is both poor scholarship and a breach of academic integrity.
- Failure to conform to the expected standards of scholarship (e.g. by not referencing sources) in examinations may affect the mark given to the candidate’s work. In addition, suspected cases of the use of unfair means (of which plagiarism is one form) will be investigated and may be brought to one of the University’s Courts. The Courts have wide powers to discipline those found guilty of using unfair means in an examination, including depriving such persons of membership of the University, and deprivation of a degree.
The golden rule as far as plagiarism is concerned (quoted in the College Tutorial Handbook (pages 15-16) and on many University web pages), is that examiners must be in no doubt as to which parts of your work are your own original work and which are the rightful property of someone else. When presenting the ideas, arguments and work of others, you must give an indication of your source. Even if your assignment is to review the literature on a given topic, you should be ‘adding value’ through criticism and analysis.
This change to the University-wide statement on plagiarism was documented in the Cambridge University Reporter (no. 6231, dated Wednesday 13 July 2011). The old version of the statement is, at the time of writing, still available in the 2010 Statutes and Ordinances of the University of Cambridge.