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Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism: Home

Throughout your assignments at National College of Ireland, you will need to refer to information written or produced by others. This is called referencing or citing and is a key feature of academic writing. It is important to be consistent and accurate when referencing to enable readers to identify and locate the resources which you have referred to. To do this, the same set of rules should be followed throughout your work each time you refer to information written or produced by others.

Referencing styles provide a system for in-text citations and for the creation of a bibliography or reference list which is added to the end of your written work. Currently, there are three referencing styles used at NCI – HarvardAPA and IEEE.

Which style should you choose?

The referencing style you are required to use depends on what course or subject you are doing. Harvard is required by most courses; however, Psychology students use the APA style and some Computing students use IEEE. Please double check with your lecturer or supervisor regarding which referencing style you should use.

NCI Library Referencing Guide

Academic Honesty
 means using your own thoughts and words in your written work, taking of exams, and other course related activities. Academic writing is built on trust and students are expected to be honest. When information has been taken from another source, you are expected to give full credit for the use of another person’s thoughts and ideas. Intentional or unintentional use of another's thoughts and ideas, without proper acknowledgement constitutes plagiarism. As a student, it is your responsibility to avoid plagiarism.


Plagiarism is the act of taking another person’s words, ideas, data or images and using them as your own without giving credit to the original source of the information.

Examples of plagiarism

The following are a few examples of plagiarism:

  • Copying words or ideas from someone else without giving them credit
  • Copying illustrations, graphs or computer code (for code, check permitted use with your lecturers)
  • Paraphrasing another's work too closely, with only minor changes, but with the essential meaning, format and/or progression of ideas maintained
  • Failing to put a quotation in quotation marks – this is considered plagiarism even if you reference the source because you have presented the work as a paraphrase
  • Relying on a specific idea or interpretation which is not your own, and which has not been properly cited
  • Piecing together the work of others from multiple sources, and representing them as original work
  • Presenting as independent work done in collaboration with others (i.e. collusion)
  • Preparing an original and correctly referenced assignment and submitting part or all of the assignment twice for separate modules
  • Using AI tools (ChatGPT, CoPilot, Gemini etc.) to generate content for your assignments without permission from your lecturer

See Page 11 of the NCI Library Referencing Guide, 5th edition for more examples of where and how plagiarism occurs.


Collusion is the presentation by a student of written work as their own when it is in fact the result in whole or in part of unauthorised collaboration with another person or persons. Collusion involves the cooperation of two or more students in plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct. Both the student presenting the written work and the student(s) with who they have collaborated are considered participants in the act of academic misconduct.

Academic integrity is highly valued in the National College of Ireland. Plagiarism is a serious academic misconduct and the penalties are severe if a student is found to have deliberately plagiarised the work of another, including copying the work of other students.

NCI uses similarity detection software called Turnitin to help academic members of staff to detect possible instances of plagiarism. If a lecturer has serious concerns about plagiarism, they will notify you and then seek a second opinion. If concerns are found to be justified, the consequences can range from the following:

  1. Your written work grade being capped
  2. Loss of mark in part or whole
  3. Submitting a new piece of work
  4. Suspension
  5. Expulsion

See our Academic Integrity Guide for more details.

A few ways to avoid plagiarism:

  • Don’t copy and paste text as this will inevitably lead to you using wording that is too close to the original text
  • Use a variety of good quality sources, i.e. don't rely on just one source for whole sections of your written work
  • Keep good quality and accurate notes - good referencing starts with effective note-taking
  • Make sure that you paraphrase properly and reference correctly
  • Don't use AI tools to generate content for your assignments (unless given permission to do so)

For further advice on avoiding plagiarism, take a look at the Avoiding Plagiarism Tutorial. You can access the tutorial through the 'Avoiding Plagiarism' link on the dashboard of your Moodle page, then select the enrolment link.

Tips to remember:

  • Is it a quote? Reference it!
  • Is it a paraphrase? Reference it!
  • Is it another person's idea/theory/image? Reference it!

Avoiding Plagiarism Tutorial

                            NCI Library's interactive Tutorial on Recognising and Avoiding Plagiarism is is designed to help students learn about the importance of referencing the information used in assignments as well as how to avoid plagiarism. Access the tutorial through the 'Academic Integrity Hub' option on the Library dropdown menu on Moodle. 

Need advice for your assignments or research?
The Library Academic Support Centre is here to help!
We offer in-person and online appointments, remote assistance via email and a drop-in service.
For more details about how we can help you, see here.

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