Section 3.1 (‘Plagiarism and self-plagiarism’) of the HKU Policy on Research Integrity contains the following:

  • ŸPlagiarism is direct copying of textual material or wilful use of other people’s data and ideas, and presenting them as one’s own without acknowledgement;
  • ŸSelf-plagiarism is reuse of one’s own data or previously written work in a ‘new’ publication without acknowledging that the data set has been used or written work has been published elsewhere.

References to what could constitute plagiarism may be found in the booklet What is Plagiarism?

‘What is Plagiarism?’

In summary, the booklet ‘What is Plagiarism?’ published by HKU includes the following:

  • A definition of plagiarism:plagiarism is copying the work of another person without proper acknowledgement. There are two parts in the definition: copying and the absence of proper acknowledgement. As a result, it gives an impression to an ordinary reader that the work is the original work of the author when in fact it was copied from some others’ work. The idea underlying plagiarism is very simple: if you appropriate the work of another person, you should give proper recognition to that person.The concept of ‘copying’ is further elaborated on (emphasis added):

    Copying does not necessarily mean copying word for word. Closely paraphrasing or substantial copying with minor modifications (such as changing grammar, adding a few words or reversing active/passive voices) is still copying for this purpose. It is not so much the form of the copying that is important, but the substance of what is copied. It does not matter what the nature of the source is. It may be a book, an article, a dissertation, a Government report, a table from the internet, a memorandum, or simply an assignment of another student or even teaching material distributed to you. The source may also be graphics, computer programmes, photographs, video and audio recordings or other non-textual material. It does not matter whether the source has been published or not.”
  • A test for plagiarism:“The test of plagiarism is whether the work will give an ordinary reader a reasonable impression that the work is the original work of the author when it is in fact a copy of the work of someone else.”
  • An explanation of the mens rea for plagiarism:“It is unnecessary to show that you intended to cheat for the offence of plagiarism. It is an objective test: whether your work will convey to an ordinary reader a reasonable impression that it is your own work when it is in fact copied from other’s work. This is done by comparing what you have done and the sources, and whether you have made appropriate acknowledgement in your work. The only subjective element required is that you were aware that you were copying.
  • A reminder of the scope of the rule forbidding plagiarism:“Plagiarism covers “any other form of assessment”. It covers theses, dissertations, take-home examinations, assignments, projects, and other forms of coursework. It applies to both undergraduate and graduate students.”
  • An explanation of how the rule forbidding plagiarism fits in with aims of University education:The aim of University education is to foster your originality, your independent thinking and analysis, and your power to express and convey your own ideas. A research paper will have little academic value if it does no more than copy passages upon passages from other sources, even when the sources are properly acknowledged. Extensive copying from sources may also suggest that you do not really understand the copied passages.”
  • An explanation of how to give proper acknowledgement when quoting directly from other works:“It is not enough merely to acknowledge the source by listing the source in the bibliography or at the end of your paper. If you take a passage from another person’s work, you must put the copied passage in quotation (ie, “xxx”) or identify it by using proper indentation, to show to the readers that it is the work of another person, and provide the source. There are two requirements. First, the copied passages must be identified Secondly, the source must be clearly provided immediately after the copied passages.
  • An explanation of how to give proper acknowledgement when paraphrasing/adopting another person’s idea/argument or copying a footnote.

The booklet also refers to ‘Plagiarism: A Guide For Research Postgraduates Students at The University of Hong Kong’ published by the Graduate School.