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Preparing for your digital life in the 21st Century
Preparing for your digital life in the 21st Century

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3.4 Good academic practice

Many courses will encourage students to use the Web as a resource. Students use it as part of their studies and in their assignments, and they should find it a great help in understanding and practising the things they learn.

However, using information found on the Web in this way can cause problems unless you take a little care. When using material written by other people you can quote their words, but good academic practice is that such quotations should always be limited and acknowledged. This applies whether you’re quoting from this unit or from other sources such as websites, journals or newspapers.

It can be very tempting to copy and paste large chunks of text into your notes – and possibly then into assignment answers – without giving a reference. However, that is very bad academic practice. It’s far better to use quotations sparingly and to rewrite most of the material in your own words. This allows you to show that you’ve understood the material and it also helps you to remember it.

In addition, it’s good academic practice to give a reference to the source of any third-party material you include in your own work. Not doing so is not only impolite, as you’re failing to acknowledge the help that someone else’s work has given you; it’s regarded as plagiarism and is never acceptable.

To help students, university websites often provide a guide on how to reference sources of information correctly, including those you might find online.