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I'm not plagiarising, am I?

University students must produce several written pieces of work with scientific accuracy. Students will have examined scientific literature and the works of other authors before using these to produce their own work.


So, with this in mind, there is a danger that the student may not even be aware of: PLAGIARISM.




What is plagiarism?

Good to know

UMONS offers its students an online course dedicated to  literature research  and writing. It contains additional information on plagiarism, rules of writing, creating a bibliography, etc.

Plagiarism means reproducing someone else's work, partially or in full, such as a text, a diagram, a figure, an idea, etc. without mentioning the sources.


If misinformed, a student may plagiarise through negligence. With the Internet, the temptation to do so is great.



From a legal perspective...




Why avoid plagiarism?

For various reasons, but here are the main ones:



  1. Ethically speaking, a person who plagiarises is stealing the intellectual property of the creator, who is entitled to be acknowledged in order to uphold the integrity of their work. In the case of plagiarism, this means that the values implemented in higher education, for example neutrality, objectivity and intellectual honesty, among others, have not been respected.
  2. Someone who plagiarises does not contribute to valid knowledge construction and does not allow the reader to check their sources or complete their research. When knowledge is created, this is added to the web of existing knowledge. Plagiarism, however, is tantamount to breaking this web and, scientifically, this is unacceptable.
  3. The issue of intellectual development arises. The person plagiarising simply does not possess the necessary university level skills, which include critical thinking, methodology, literature reviewing, synthesising and analysing, among others. Moreover, university teachers assess students based on the students' own creations. If the student is not the sole author, the system is biased. 

  4. On a purely academic level, students who plagiarise risk penalties, including exclusion.

From a legal perspective...

Support yes, copy no!

Good to know

In the UMONS exam regulations, there is an entire article written on plagiarism. It explains the procedure to follow in case of suspicion of cheating and proven cheating.

Obviously, students can (or must!) argue (support) their ideas by relying on other people's work, but WITHOUT plagiarising.

In other words, students must, firstly, cite their sources and, secondly, ensure that their overall work is still an original piece that conveys their own ideas.


This means that they are able to demonstrate scientific rigor and professionalism, both of which are required in higher education.


Students will only be rewarded for this.



How can I avoid plagiarism?

Good to know

UMONS actively fights against plagiarism. Computer software to detect plagiarism has been put in place. All students' work submitted on the UMONS teaching platform is subject to this detection by default.

This is what every student wonders when they produce a written piece of work. The following questions also often cross their minds: 


How can I support and justify my ideas while respecting the authors?


How can I ensure the originality and authenticity of my own work?






2 rules to obey

1. IDENTIFY the sources

What sources are you inspired by? If you find certain literature interesting, consider the following questions:


  • Who created/wrote/produced the work? Who are the authors?

  • What is the full title of the work?
  • What is the publishing house? (name and place)
  • What is the year of publication?
  • Is it a book written by several authors? Is it a scientific publication?
  • Did you find it online? If so, when did you last consult it and what is the URL address?


2. REFERENCE the sources

If you choose to use other people's work in your own work, you must specify the source(s) and reference them correctly.


To do this, we generally follow the international standards of the APA (American Psychological Association) which are available in their entirety in the UMONS online courses.


To be sure not to plagiarise, let's be reminded of the advice of Michel Beaud (2006), cited by Bertrand (2010, p.145):


  1. "Ou bien vous reprenez des phrases entières et vous citez
  2. Ou bien vous résumez la pensée d'un auteur et vous le dites
  3. Ou bien vous vous servez (de certaines idées, de certains éléments, de certains arguments,…) et vous le signalez."

("Either you take entire sentences and quote them, or you point out that you are summarising an author's idea, or you use some ideas, some elements, some arguments and, again, you point this out")


Writing methods: 3 options

You want to support your writing, argue your point with the ideas, text and figures of other authors.


For scientific accuracy, there are three possibilities:



Transcribe part of the text, word for word, put it in quotation marks and cite the source(s).



Summarise the main idea by changing the words, the structure, making the idea your own and original, mentioning the author in your text and citing the source(s).


3. USE data

Present tables, statistics, figures, graphs, etc. and cite the sources.




One exception: common knowledge

Good to know

If you use a few passages from a previous piece of work, you must still reference your sources.  This essentially means quoting yourself.

You cannot transcribe a previous piece of your own work in full. The scientific rule is that you cannot publish the same thing twice.

Some objective facts are known by the majority of the population. These facts are proven, they are not an interpretation, they cannot therefore be questioned. These facts can be easily verified in official texts. These facts are "common knowledge". In this case, it is not necessary to reference the source.



Example: The national motto of Belgium is "unity makes strength" and the national anthem is the Brabançonne (English: The Brabantian).


This proven fact is public knowledge. There is no need to cite any sources.



Counterexample:  "L'unité belge, on le sait, se traduit par une devise nationale sereine et constative - "L'union fait la force" - mais dont l'apparente simplicité ne résiste pas à l'examen. Car pourquoi devoir rappeler ce qui semble un truisme ?" cité par Pickels, A., & Sojcher, J. (1998). Belgique, toujours grande et belle. Revue de l'Université de Bruxelles. Editions Complexe.

(English: "Belgian unity, as we know it, is translated into a serene and constative national motto - "unity is strength" - but its apparent simplicity does not withstand scrutiny. Why should we have to be reminded of what seems to be a truism?" Quoted by Pickels, A., & Sojcher, J. (1998). Belgium, toujours grande et belle. Revue de l'Université de Bruxelles. Editions Complexe.) 


This counterexample is the author's interpretation.
The author's idea is not objective.
The information is not "common knowledge", so the source(s) must be cited.




How to reference

Uses for referencing vary according to domain. The rules given here generally apply.

1. In-text referencing

If in your text you want to mention the writings of another author, you must:
put quotation marks around the text if you quote it (exact transcription)
mention in the text: the author(s) and date of publication
reference the full source in the bibliography. 


  • However, let's be reminded that "the exact number of planets referenced by the international space centre and visible by citizens is in full progression." (Hergé, 2010, p. 122).
  • According to Hergé (2010), the number of visible planets would continue to increase.
  • According to a study by Hergé (2010), the number of visible planets continues to increase.
  • While the number of visible planets continues to increase (Hergé, 2010), it seems that...


2. Referencing in a bibliography

The bibliography must be presented in alphabetical order at the end of your work.

What must be included in the bibliography?  All sources quoted or used in the document.


  • A book:


Author(s) (date of publication). Title. Place: Publishing house.


Bertrand Baschwitz, M. A. (2010). Comment me documenter ? Bruxelles : Edition De Boeck.


  • An article in a scientific journal:


Author(s) Date of publication. Title. Title of the scientific journal, volume, pages.


Demeuse, M. & Baye, A. (2007). La Commission européenne face à l'efficacité et l'équité des systèmes éducatifs européens. Education et sociétés, vol. 2, n.20, 105-119.


  • An online source:


Author(s) (Date of publication). Title. Title of website [Type of support]. Date of consultation. URL address


Université d'Ottawa (2010). Attention au plagiat. C'est facile, c'est tentant,... mais ça peut couter cher. Sur (en ligne). Page consultée le 01/03/2013.


 From a legal perspective...




Test yourself!

Do you feel ready to write without plagiarising?


Using an extract of a book in your work




Sources of inspiration

Bertrand Baschwitz, M. A. (2010). Comment me documenter ? Bruxelles : Edition De Boeck.

Université de Mons (2008). Bulletin des P2B. Numéro spécial : la bibliographie. Sur (en ligne). Page consultée le 11/04/13.

Université de Mons (2013). Plagiat. Sur (en ligne). Page consultée le 11/04/13.

Université d'Ottawa (2010). Attention au plagiat. C'est facile, c'est tentant,... mais ça peut couter cher. Sur (en ligne). Page consultée le 01/03/2013.

Université libre de Bruxelles. Evitez le plagiat ! Sur (en ligne). Page consultée le 11/04/13.




Downloadable version

Handbook on PLAGIARISM for UMONS students (in French)