Scientific ethics demand that the intellectual creations, ideas and theories of other authors be identified as such by citation of the respective author(s), even when their work is only used analogously. Each discipline has developed particular citation conventions, to which writers of scientific texts must adhere. This rule generally falls away in the context of ‘handbook knowledge’ whose general subject knowledge can be taken as given. If, however, another author’s presentation of this handbook knowledge (e.g., in a textbook) is used, he/she must be cited. In addition, an author may not use a self-authored paper (or extracts from it) in another academic qualification (self-plagiarism).
Students attest to the originality of their work
By signing the Declaration of Originality students attest that (among other things) they have authored the work in question themselves; read the ‘Citation Etiquette’ information sheet on plagiarism; and adhered to the rules of citation standard in their disciplines.
A signed Declaration of Originality is a component of every Bachelor’s/Master’s thesis, semester paper or other qualifying paper written during the course of studies (including the electronic versions).
Lecturers may also ask for a Declaration of Originality to accompany other written papers they have assigned.
If a work was co-authored by a group the Declaration of Originality must be signed by all members of the group. Collectively they vouch for the entire content of the written work.
Plagiarism is understood as the complete or partial imitation of the work of another author without citing that work’s source and author.
It may be more narrowly defined as follows (see the contribution of Prof. Christian Schwarzenegger in unijournal, 4/2006):
- The author uses extracts from another author’s work without citing the source. This includes using material from the internet without citation.
- The author takes extracts from another author’s work and changes (paraphrases) them slightly without citing the source.
- The author translates texts or extracts from foreign-language documents and submits them as his/her own work without citing the source (translation plagiarism).
- The author submits a paper in his/her name which he/she has actually commissioned another person (a‘ghost writer’) to write.
- The author submits the work of another author in his/her own name (full plagiarism).
- The author takes an extract from someone else’s work, paraphrases it and indeed cites the original author, but somewhere other than in the context of the extract (for example, the (in practice, plagiarised) source is hidden away in a footnote at the end of the paper).