How Does Unisa Detect Plagiarism?

By Trev Gami •  Updated: 04/29/24 •  6 min read

Plagiarism is a serious and punishable academic offence that can lead to the exclusion of the offender from the program or expulsion from the institution. It involves using someone’s ideas or works as yours without properly acknowledging the owner. To ensure the student’s academic standing, Unisa does not tolerate any form of academic dishonesty and uses different tools to deal with the problem. Read on to learn how this institute of higher learning detects plagiarism.  

How Does Unisa Detect Plagiarism

Unisa uses an internet-based software called Turnitin to detect plagiarism. This program is designed to promote quality academic writing in learning institutions. It flags all sections of an article with plagiarised content. The aim is to encourage students to develop quality writing skills to improve their academic writing. 

All students are required to submit their assignments to Turnitin, and lecturers will also double-check to ensure that all work is plagiarism free. The software checks the document for non-originality by comparing it to several articles available on databases on the World Wide Web. The similarity index should be within an acceptable range. 

However, the bad part about plagiarism software is that it can detect plagiarism even where none exists. To be on the safe side, try to be original when you write your work and properly cite all sources used.

How Much Plagiarism Is Acceptable Unisa?

No matter how hard you try to be original, the Turnitin tool will somehow flag some sections of your work as plagiarized. However, you should not worry since this is normal in any kind of written work. As a universal rule, Unisa has proclaimed that the similarity index of each document submitted by every student should be below five percent of any single source.    

What Is Plagiarism Policy at Unisa?

According to Unisa’s Policy for Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism, the practice of plagiarism is unacceptable. Using other people’s work without proper acknowledgement is regarded as plagiarism. Therefore, any work you submit must be your own.

The policy states that an application for admission to Unisa is rejected immediately if it has any of the following:

Before you submit your application for admission at Unisa, carefully read the plagiarism policy. 

What Happens if a Student Is Found Guilty of Plagiarism at Unisa?

Any form of academic dishonesty, cheating, or plagiarism related to continuous assessments and exams is unacceptable. All students must know that UNISA has zero tolerance for plagiarism, and the practice can lead to serious consequences that can affect one’s academic career. 

Any student who participates in fraudulent or dishonest academic activities relating to assessments or exams is referred to the Student Disciplinary Unit for further investigation and discipline. Dishonest activities can involve possessing unauthorized study materials or getting assistance from external third parties. 

Once you are found guilty of committing an offence of academic dishonesty, your modules will be cancelled, and marks will be withdrawn. You will also face a maximum of five years’ suspension from Unisa and other universities in South Africa. 

If a student is found guilty of plagiarism, they can be expelled from the university and are blacklisted. This means the offender might be unable to reapply for admission at any of the universities in South Africa. To avoid such unfortunate scenarios, all students are encouraged to read the Unisa rules and the Student Disciplinary Code. 

What Score of Plagiarism Is Bad?

In most cases, plagiarism can be inevitable since issues of similarities between phrases and other texts cannot be completely avoided. Therefore, the universal rule for Unisa students is that the similarity index of any document to another source should be below five percent.

To achieve this, you must do thorough research when writing your assignments. It takes time to do good research and make sure you write other people’s ideas using your own words. When you use multiple sources, it will be easier to grasp the concept and write it in your style. 

Cite all the sources you use when writing your work. Even when you paraphrase text obtained from other sources, ensure you acknowledge the author. Avoid over-paraphrasing since this will lead to plagiarism. Using multiple synonyms and changing the order of words obtained from passages written by other authors is plagiarism. Instead, try to build new phrases from other people’s ideas. 

Before you commit yourself to your work, you should understand the requirements. It is a good idea to talk with your lecturer or supervisor if you are not sure about how you can handle the task. Plagiarism can be involuntary, but this does not make it better. You would rather spend time trying to find ways to avoid it at all costs than putting your academic career at risk over something avoidable. 

Plagiarism is a serious offence you should always avoid, especially when you are studying at a tertiary institution. Unisa has zero tolerance for plagiarism, and once you are caught on the wrong side, you risk being suspended for five years, not only at this university but other similar institutions across South Africa. The good news is that you can avoid plagiarism by acknowledging other people’s ideas and writing original works. Turnitin is an effective tool you can utilize to check your document for plagiarism before submitting it. 

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