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WHSL Evaluating Web Sites for Health Information: Avoiding Plagiarism

A brief guide showing how to evaluate web sites used to provide health information

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 below. 

Read it!

Inadequate Referencing and Penalties in PSYC 1008

Note the following penalties for poor referencing (summarised from your course guide):

  • Insufficient referencing.
    •    You will lose marks and may fail.
  • Unacknowledged paraphrasing.
    •    You will lose marks and may fail.
  • No references given.
    •    You will fail, no matter how good your essay.
  • Blatant plagiarism (copying) - no quotation marks; no reference given.
    •    You will get 0%.

Don't Follow the Herd!

Not a great idea! 
  • 61% of students in the USA say they don't use an outline when writing a paper¹
  • 62% of USA students say they would procrastinate if they were given a month to write a paper¹


1. EasyBib survey on student research habits. New York: ImagineEasy Solutions, 2012.

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 plagiarised, 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.

This is an example of an actual disciplinary notice where a student was suspended for plagiarising someone else's work. Note that plagiarism extends to copying a fellow student's work, as well as a lack of proper referencing.

Plagiarism Notice

You are What You Write

Plagiarism has long term consequences! 

In 2012, Pal Schmitt was forced to resign as President of Hungary after his doctoral degree was revoked by his university when it was discovered he plagiarised his thesis.


1. Kessler, S. 1 Jun 2012. Students cite YouTube, Google, Wikipedia the most. Mashable Lifestyle Blog post. Graphics courtesy of EasyBib and ALA.

2. Parker, K. 2011. The digital revolution and hgher education. Pew Social & Demographic Trends, Pew Research Center.

3, Karasz, P. 2 Apr 2012. Hungarian president resigns amid plagiarism scandal. New York Times.

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.

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.

Library's Role in Student Information Literacy

Infor Literacy Success    


1. Kessler, S. 1 Jun 2012. Students cite YouTube, Google, Wikipedia the most. Mashable Lifestyle Blog post. Graphics courtesy of EasyBib and ALA.

2. Rosales, J. 2011. Checking out. U.S. National Education Association.