Plagiarism is using someone else’s work without referring to or citing the work. By doing this, even unintentionally, you risk being accused of passing it off as your own. This is a serious breach of academic regulations and can lead to awards being withheld. You must be aware of what plagiarism is as an ignorance of the regulations will not be an excuse for the practice. You can find more information about this in the Student Regulations and Procedures.
How to avoid plagiarism
In academic institutions your research will lead you to look at images, texts and opinions. You will be asked to summarise, synthesise, contrast, compare images and text and to create your own viewpoint.
This is the way that academic practice works. We all rely on other people’s intellectual effort when we are developing our own opinions and images. As long as we are aware of this we can take steps to ensure that the creators of these images and texts that we refer to are acknowledged. This will avoid any risk of charges of plagiarism. To acknowledge other artists, designers and writers work we use the Harvard referencing system. This short video from Brock University Library (2014) explains more:
Plagiarism and visual work
This is a more difficult area because in art, design and media there is a tradition of borrowing and adapting images by previous artists. Richard Prince uses Marlborough Man images in his work. The work of Nicolas Bourriaud, a French theorist, looks at the phenomena of the artist as a kind of VJ: re-cycling what is previously available. There are often re-makes of films: True Grit, Stalker and Psycho are recent examples. These practices can make it more difficult to be clear about plagiarism in the visual arts, but really the key message is clear: do not use other people’s work or ideas without being clear they are not yours.