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Plagiarism and Thesis Students - Guidelines for Supervisors

Experience at Victoria suggests that a number of thesis students are struggling to adopt appropriate strategies for the use of information sourced from third parties. When this is identified at the point of thesis submission it can be very disruptive for the student and the supervisor, and potentially can result in significant penalties to the student. While the supervisor cannot be held responsible for misconduct on the part of the student, the supervisory relationship imposes a special responsibility for ensuring the student becomes familiar with the expectations of the University and their discipline.The following guidelines are suggested for all supervisors to consider when working with thesis students.

  • Use the Drawing the Line resource with your student as a way of discussing your expectations for the use of material sourced from others.
  • Review with your student the policy on Recognition of Authorship and make sure that you have a shared understanding of the expectation that students write articles while studying and how joint contributions will be handled.
  • Make sure the student knows what citation format is expected normally in your discipline and has access to information on the details of that format. The Library website provides an introduction to common formats.
  • Ensure that the student produces original written work early and often. Review this with them, focusing on the identification of suitable literature, citation practices and ways copied material is incorporated in the writing. They may find the SLSS Brochure on Avoiding Plagiarism helpful as it has practical examples to common questions. Students struggling to write well should be encouraged to use the SLSS support staff early, as they have specialists who can work one-on-one with postgraduate students.
  • Use the Plagiarism Checklist to review student work that raises questions in your mind.
  • Discuss with the student the use of the Turnitin system by the University. Early in their study, make sure to put a piece of their work through Turnitin and discuss the report with the student.
  • Consider whether each finished section of work produced by the student should be submitted to Turnitin, or whether the entire thesis will be submitted prior to completion.
  • If you detect probable plagiarism, you must use the formal procedure for plagiarism and the Academic Misconduct Register. This is essential for the University to be able to protect the integrity of the thesis process through formal sanctions.

Note: Students are not issued with Turnitin accounts independently. Graduate students who wish to use Turnitin need to contact their supervisors and ask them to set up a Turnitin submission area for them, providing a password and making sure that the student can view Originality Reports. Refer to Accessing_Turnitin to request an account.