At TU Delft, our primary aim is to ensure that our students have become independent academic thinkers once they have completed their Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programmes. However, you do not necessarily have to start from scratch in order to be original, or even groundbreaking. Adding your own ideas to the foundations laid by others with their knowledge and ideas is precisely how science advances. Pauline Post, Director of TU Delft’s Centre for Languages and Academic Skills, and Madeleine Bos, Educational Policy Officer and Head of Education & Student Affairs at the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, discuss how to handle your sources and references with integrity.
Questioning sources “Mastering information is at the heart of academic thought. We encourage this independent thought by teaching students how to use sources correctly. When you add your own ideas to someone else’s, you cannot, of course, claim all of the credit. You need to clearly indicate what information was already present, and what you added. Only then can you make your added value clear to the reader”, Pauline begins. “That is why it is important to know how to correctly refer to your sources, how to quote and paraphrase them.”
“Being an academic involves being aware of the do’s and don’ts, and thereby avoiding fraud and plagiarism. This applies to all subjects and levels of study’, Madeleine adds. ‘This notion underpins our efforts to embed teaching these skills in all degree programmes from the outset, helping us to ensure that everyone is well informed and educated, but primarily that the quality and originality of the work produced by our university is safeguarded.”
Pauline: “The Centre for Languages and Academic Skills offers writing skills training throughout the university as part of the curriculum. Correctly referencing sources is also addressed in depth during the Information Skills training sessions organised by the TU Delft Library. These modules are often integrated in academic writing elements of the educational programmes. Students are at different levels when they arrive at the university, dependent on what they have learned at secondary school. We iron out these differences reasonably quickly. We also often see that international students entering their degree programmes at a later stage are at a lower level. This is partly down to cultural differences. In some countries, adopting the body of thought of a lecturer or academic is seen as a form of respect, and the rules or culture regarding referencing are ‘freer’ than here. A language barrier also often comes into play.”
The quality and originality of the work produced by our university is safeguarded
“An important skill that we teach our students is that of paraphrasing. We teach them that paraphrasing is not simply changing a few words, as this does not make it sufficiently clear what the source says, and what your interpretation is of the source. It is all about questioning and interpreting your source, about recounting the information and applying it to your own context. What you have to say is only original and valuable once you are able to introduce your understanding of the source and explain how it links to your own work.”
Madeleine: “Feedback offered by the lecturers is essential in this regard. Lecturers check for plagiarism using a program called Turnitin, which produces an originality score. Conspicuous scores either indicate a high number of references, or poor paraphrasing. Lecturers offer their feedback and the students are asked to submit their work numerous times. This enables them to gain an increasingly critical perspective, while you also create awareness for the quality and originality of academic work.”
As of 1 January 2015 a plagiarism scan via Turnitin is a compulsory part of the TU Delft procedure for PhD theses. PhD reports are checked by using the software Ithenticate (owned by IParadigms). These checks are made by TU Delft Library and reported to the supervisor. You can find all relevant information on the website of the Graduate School.
In the event of suspected plagiarism whereby a scientist from TU Delft is the victim, the Library will contact the publisher. This may result in a publication being amended or removed in a journal or database. (http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/)
More context of plagiarism is presented on the TU Delft Copyright website
The Library organises Information Literacy courses I (and II) for each Bachelor programme. The Information Literacy course III for Masters is being revised this year.
Information Literacy I: https://ocw.tudelft.nl/courses/information-literacy-i/
Information Literacy II: https://ocw.tudelft.nl/courses/information-literacy-ii/
Information Literacy III: https://ocw.tudelft.nl/courses/information-literacy-for-masters-and-phd-students
Want to know more about the legal side of fraude and plagiarism: http://studenten.tudelft.nl/en/students/legal-position/fraud-plagiarism/