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University Resources

The University publishes information on Plagiarism and Academic Misconduct, including

There are references to the University statement

Please read the University's definition of misconduct carefully.

The University has outlined Rules of Behaviour for both current and former registered students (Statutes and Ordinances 2022, Chapter II, Section 18; p.195). All registered students and formerly registered students are responsible for following the Rules of Behaviour.

Not knowing or forgetting about the rules or their consequences is not a justification for not following them.

The Faculty Guidelines

The guidelines below are provided by the Faculty to help students interpret what the University Statement means for Mathematics. However neither the University Statement nor the Faculty Guidelines supersede the University's Regulations as set out in the Statutes and Ordinances. If you are unsure as to the interpretation of the University Statement, or the Faculty Guidelines, or the Statutes and Ordinances, you should ask your Director of Studies or Course Director (as appropriate).

The scope of academic misconduct

Academic misconduct may be due to 

  • plagiarism - this refers to using another person’s language and/or ideas as if they are your own
  • collusion - this refers to collaboration either where it is forbidden, or where the extent of the collaboration exceeds that which has been expressly allowed
  • contract cheating - this refers to contracting a third party to provide work, which is then used or submitted as part of a formal assessment as though it is the student’s own work
  • use of artificial intelligence - this refers to the use of ChatGPT and other tools that can generate essay-style text, computer code, presentations, outlines and other content.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism can be defined as the unacknowledged use of the work of others as if this were your own original work. In the context of any University examination, this amounts to passing off the work of others as your own to gain unfair advantage.

Such use of unfair means will not be tolerated by the University or the Faculty. If detected, the penalty may be severe and may lead to failure to obtain your degree. This is in the interests of the vast majority of students who work hard for their degree through their own efforts, and it is essential in safeguarding the integrity of the degrees awarded by the University.

Checking for plagiarism

Faculty Examiners will routinely look out for any indication of plagiarised work. They reserve the right to make use of specialised detection software if appropriate (the University subscribes to Turnitin, for example).

Where plagiarism or another form of academic misconduct is suspected, the Examiners of the relevant part of the Tripos may, at their discretion, examine a candidate viva voce.

How to avoid plagiarism

Your course work, essays and projects (for Parts IB, II and III, the M.Phil. etc.), are marked on the assumption that it is your own work: i.e. on the assumption that the words, diagrams, computer programs, ideas and arguments are your own. Plagiarism can occur if, without suitable acknowledgement and referencing, you take any of the above (i.e. words, diagrams, computer programs, ideas and arguments) from books or journals, obtain them from unpublished sources such as lecture notes and handouts, or download them from the web.

Plagiarism also occurs if you submit work that has been undertaken in whole or part by someone else on your behalf (such as employing a 'ghost writing service'). Furthermore, you should not deliberately reproduce someone else's work in a written examination. These would all be regarded as plagiarism by the Faculty and by the University.

In addition, you should not submit any work that is substantially the same as work you have submitted, or are concurrently submitting, for any degree, diploma or similar qualification at any university or similar institution.

However, it is often the case that parts of your essays, projects and course-work will be based on what you have read and learned from other sources, and it is important that in your essay or project or coursework you show exactly where, and how, your work is indebted to these other sources. The golden rule is that the Examiners must be in no doubt as to which parts of your work are your own original work and which are the rightful property of someone else.

A good guideline to avoid plagiarism is not to repeat or reproduce other people's words, diagrams or computer programs. If you need to describe other people's ideas or arguments try to paraphrase them in your own words (and remember to include a reference). Only when it is absolutely necessary should you include direct quotes, and then these should be kept to a minimum. You should also remember that in an essay or project or coursework, it is not sufficient merely to repeat or paraphrase someone else's view; you are expected at least to evaluate, critique and/or synthesise their position.

In slightly more detail, the following guidelines may be helpful in avoiding plagiarism.


A quotation directly from a book or journal article is acceptable in certain circumstances, provided that it is referenced properly:

  • short quotations should be in inverted commas, and a reference given to the source
  • longer pieces of quoted text should be in inverted commas and indented, and a reference given to the source.

Whatever system is followed, you should additionally list all the sources in the bibliography or reference section at the end of the piece of work, giving the full details of the sources, in a format that would enable another person to look them up easily. There are many different styles for bibliographies. Use one that is widely used in the relevant area (look at papers and books to see what referencing style is used).


Paraphrasing means putting someone else's work into your own words. Paraphrasing is acceptable, provided that it is acknowledged. A rule of thumb for acceptable paraphrasing is that an acknowledgement should be made at least once in every paragraph. There are many ways in which such acknowledgements can be made (e.g. ``Smith (2001) goes on to argue that ...'' or ``Smith (2001) provides further proof that ...''). As with quotation, the full details of the source should be given in the bibliography or reference list.

General indebtedness

When presenting the ideas, arguments and work of others, you must give an indication of the source of the material. You should err on the side of caution, especially if drawing ideas from one source. If the ordering of evidence and argument, or the organisation of material reflects a particular source, then this should be clearly stated (and the source referenced).

Use of web sources

You should use web sources as if you were using a book or journal article. The above rules for quoting (including 'cutting and pasting'), paraphrasing and general indebtedness apply. Web sources must be referenced and included in the bibliography.


Unless it is expressly allowed, collaboration is collusion and counts as plagiarism. Moreover, as well as not copying the work of others you should not allow another person to copy your work.

Use of artificial intelligence

Content produced by AI platforms, such as ChatGPT, is not original work and will be considered a form of academic misconduct to be dealt with under the University's disciplinary procedures. Several methods for detecting AI_generated text are already available and may be employed by the Examienrs.

In addition to issues of academic integrity, students should be aware of several issues that have been reported:

  • possible inaccuracy of the content generated, ranging from not being up-to-date to being entirely fictitious
  • possibility of bias introduced and prejudicial views being perpetuated, based on existing online content
  • ethical concerns around the gathering and use of user data, due to questionable consent and privacy practices of the platforms in question.