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WHSL Citing the Medical Literature: Avoiding Plagiarism

How to cite print and electronic books and journals using Vancouver or Harvard styles for use in the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand (GEMP 1 BMCS, MTP1, MTP2)

Plagiarism or Copying?

Copying is cheating

Plagiarism is a form of copying. Copying is cheating.

The penalties for plagiarism at Wits are extremely harsh.

Students have been suspended, their exam results have been withheld, or they have not been allowed to proceed to the following year of study until remedial action has been satisfactorily undertaken.

It's quite simple. Do NOT plagiarise!


Student Disciplinary Action

If you are found to have plagiarized, or made "unfair use" of e-books or e-journals, you will be subject to disciplinary action, in terms of the Wits student disciplinary rules and regulations.

How to Paraphrase without Plagiarising

A useful guide on how to paraphrase, based on material from the Writer's Handbook, produced by the Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA.

How to avoid plagiarism ?

Plagiarism Examples


"Plagiarism is the use of another person's work (words/products/ideas) for personal advantage, without proper acknowledgement of the original work, and with the intention of passing it off as one's own work" (1).

This applies to all written work, including portfolios, clinical assessments, reports, etc. If you copy someone else's portfolio, even from several years ago, this is construed as plagiarism. The work does not need to be published in order for you to be accused of plagiarism.

More detailed information on what constitutes plagiarism, kinds of plagiarism, and how to avoid it can be found at Plagiarism 101 (2).

1. Wikipedia. Available: [Accessed 16.01.2006]

2. Plagiarism 101. Available: [Accessed 22.01.2013] 


Copyright - How much Can I Legally Download?

The rule of thumb is "fair use", which is defined by law as not more than 10% of a book, or from one journal. So if the book from which you want to copy or download an extract has 10 chapters, you may legally copy or download ONE chapter only. If the entire journal issue has ten articles, you may copy or download only one article from that issue.

You may copy or download this material only for yourself, for the purpose of study or research. You may not copy on behalf of the entire class or even on behalf of a group (eg. your PBL groups). You need to pay copyright license fees to the publisher if large numbers of copies are made. The publishers are able to track use if you attempt to download large volumes of material from the same e-book or e-journal. This is why some of your lecturers or tutors will refer you to the Library's holdings (stock) for print copies, or recommend that you purchase your own copy of the book, either in print or electronically online.

Some lecturers or tutors will provide you with a hyperlink to the material that is available electronically. If a PDF copy is attached to your GEMP web site, then copyright license fees will have been paid on your behalf for this privilege.


Quick Guide to Avoiding Plagiarism

  1. ALWAYS acknowledge your source/s (include the reference/citation)
  2. Paraphrase (use your own words)
  3. Avoid copying and pasting from electronic material
  4. If you use the exact words, enclose them in "Quotation marks" (inverted commas)
  5. Do not quote long passages of text, even if you have used inverted commas.

AM I Plagarizing?

Faculty of Health Sciences' Guide to Copyright and Avoiding Plagiarism

Every registered student at the Faculty of Health Sciences is given a copy of this document at registration (1st year). We realise you were probably too confused at that stage to either read the document, or keep it in a safe place for future reference.

If you can not find your document, or registered at Wits after the first year of your degree, please obtain a copy of this document from the Faculty Office (Undergraduate Studies: Ms Henda van der Walt) or download a copy above. 

Read it!

Downloading from e-Books

You may NOT copy or download an entire e-book! This information is available to you 24/7 and belongs to your Library. Please do not abuse the privilege of having this material available.

You may download a maximum of 10% of the book in terms of the copyright laws stipulating "fair use".

Checking your Work for Plagiarism

Use TurnitIn to check your writing for plagiarism before handing it in. This can be accessed on ULWAZI where access has been setup on your profile/specific courses. For help, please email or telephone 0117178887/7161