Plagiarism and moral rights

Plagiarism and moral rights are related concepts, but they can be quite different.


Plagiarism is the act of presenting another person's work or ideas as your own. Plagiarism is a serious breach of ethics at UNSW and is not taken lightly.

Understanding the principles related to the ethical use of information will help you avoid unintentional plagiarism or poor academic practice.

UNSW groups plagiarism into these categories:

  • Copying
  • Inappropriate paraphrasing
  • Collusion
  • Duplication

By developing good academic writing skills, you will be less likely to plagiarise another person's work. Best practice means that you:

  • acknowledge the original author of information that you have quoted, summarised or paraphrased from books, articles, web pages, etc.
  • learned how to form your own opinions from the work that others have published

Knowing how to correctly reference the information you use in assignments is also important in helping you to avoid plagiarism.

  • know the types of works that must be referenced
    e.g. books, articles, web pages, statistics, photographs, etc.
  • know how to use the appropriate referencing style
    e.g. Harvard, APA

For more information see Referencing.

Moral rights of authors

Under the Copyright Act 1968, authors have the right to have their work properly acknowledged when it is quoted and the right not to have their work subjected to unreasonable derogatory treatment. These rights are called moral rights and are separate from copyright protection. It is an added reason why it is important to acknowledge the sources you use.

  • the right of attribution - the right of an author or artist to be identified with his or her works
  • the right against false attribution - the right of an author or artist not to have their work falsely attributed to someone else
  • the right of integrity - the right of an author or artist not to have their work treated in a derogatory way

Moral rights last for the same period of time as copyright protection. The UNSW Intellectual Property Policy deals with moral rights.

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