Citing instead of Plagiarizing

How to Incorporate Outside Sources

All sources used must be fully identified so that they can be found and understood by other readers. Please observe the following customs of professional and academic writing culture:

  • Literal quotations must be placed in quotation marks and the source must be indicated in parentheses at the end of the sentence useing the text and/or quote; this applies to terms, expressions, phrases and sections of text.
  • If you paraphrase another text, i.e. reproduce the meaning in your own words, the source must be indicated in parentheses at the end of the sentence.
  • At the end of your work you must include a complete list of all sources used (bibliography). This applies to almost all types of literature that you will deal with in the course of your studies with us (exception, for example, the essay). 
  • Sentences like ‘Immanuel Kant was an important philosopher of the Enlightenment’ are sentences that belong to the basic knowledge and do not have to be provided with a source. 
  • If you take a quotation from another author without checking the original source, it is a secondary source. This must also be cited.

(based on the Citation etiquette of ETH Zurich and the Honor Code of Stanford University)

How to do Citations

If you comply with the following rules, you can hand in your written work with a clear conscience.

  1. Always clearly distinguish between your own thoughts and the thoughts of others.
  2. Clearly cite all authors and paraphrased sources used in your text.
  3. List all sources used (Internet, pictures, tables, codes, data, graphics) in the bibliography.
  4. Observe the citation standards as required by the chair.
  5. Attach your signed declaration of independence.

Forms of Plagiarism

If an external work is partially or completely taken from a source or author without any citation or reference, this is deemed plagiarism. The University of Zurich’s student magazine defines plagiarism as when:

  1. The author submits a work created by another under his name (‘ghostwriting’).
  2. The author submits another work under his name (full plagiarism).
  3. The author submits one and the same work (or parts thereof) to various examinations or seminar occasions (self-plagiarism).
  4. The author translates foreign-language texts or parts of foreign-language texts and presents them as their own work without citing the translation source (translation plagiarism).
  5. The author uses parts of a text from an outside source without identifying the source with a citation. This also includes the downloading and using of text excerpts from the Internet (copy & paste plagiarism).
  6. The author uses text from an outside source, makes slight adjustments and changes to the text (paraphrasing) [either by him- or herself or in combination with rewriting software tools*], but does not identify the source with a citation.
  7. The author uses text from an outside source, paraphrases it if necessary, and provides a citation, but does not cite it in the properly corresponding part of the text (example: hiding the plagiarized source in a footnote at the end of the work).

    (Christian Schwarzenegger & Wolfgang Wohlers. Plagiatsformen und disziplinarrechtliche Konsequenzen. Unijournal 4 (2006), S. 3) To the original text

* Addendum by the Chair of Technoscience Studies (as of March 5th, 2021) in the light of recent events.

Consequences of Plagiarism

Please see BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg rules and regulations under General Examination and Study Regulations (§ 20 (4)):

‘If a student attempts to influence his or her result by deception or use of inadmissible tools, if he or she is part of a deception or if he or she disturbs the orderly course of the examination or, if for the purpose of conscious deception of intellectual property of others is violated or published material of third parties is used without mentioning the sources or authors and submitted as own performance (plagiarism), the examination performance concerned will be graded “insufficient” (5.0) and the examinee can be excluded from continuation of the examination by the examiner. In severe cases or in case of reoccurrence the responsible Examination Board decides on the loss of examination right.’

The Statue for Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice at the BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg as of 2 March 2018 is to ensure that good research practices are observed by both scientific staff and students.

What Happens After an Attempt at Plagiarism is Detected?

  1. The student will be asked to sit for an interview with the seminar leader or professor. 
  2. The student is told that he or she has plagiarised and is attempting to deceive. The interview is recorded.
  3. The work is given a grade of 5 (insufficient).
  4. The grade is passed on to the student service, including the note ‘attempted deception’.
  5. The process is reported to the responsible examination board.

Plagiarism check with Turnitin Step-by-step instructions: created by Ingmar Lippert, Chair of Technoscience Studies, January 2022

1. Request

Email software(at) and request an account to review the submitted papers.

2. Log in and create course

Log in to Turitin with your email address. If necessary, select the “Forgot password” option to reset it and request a new password.

On the home page, you can add a “Course” (green button on the right side of the browser). The data entered for name, department, teaching level, etc. seems to be irrelevant for the evaluation. [1] An enrollment key does not have to be assigned.

3. Create task

Before you or your students can submit a paper, you must first create an “assignment”.

In the "Optional settings" you can, for example, exclude bibliographic material or citations from the analysis. This can help to reduce the number of falsely detected similarities.

4. Upload assigment to be checked in the course, called “submitting”.

You will now find the task listed on the homepage of your course. Under “Further actions” you will find the link "Submit", which you can use to upload paper that should be checked.

5. Wait

The assignment is now being analyzed. This may take a while therefore plan a total of half a working day of analysis time for a dissertation.

6. View and understand the results

When the analysis is complete, you will find the paper listed with a “similarity score”. Click on the “Similarity” of the assignment and then you can check the matches manually.

Manual checking is relevant because in the default setting Turnitin finds up to 15% similarities even in non-plagiarized work. For example, pay attention to matches that refer to titles of texts, notice whether Turnitin observes quotation marks placed by students. Among other things, we observed that literature references, citations block, quotations, and title formulations were detected as being plagiarized.

The picture below shows an example of a detected similarity, which illustrates how context-less Turnitin perceives similarities: the student work makes explicit at which faculty and university the work was submitted. Now, university names “University of” and faculty names are similar in many places and many publications, so no plagiarism is perceptible here.

Another example could be found in the picture below. In the phrase:

Although Morrison disregards the grand narrative view of this specific era, he offers a different set of tools to define the relationship between science and technology in an indistinguishable interconnected relationship with one another.

Turnitin detects the : „science and technology […] relationship with one another“  as potentially plagiarised from Paul Forman (2007, S. 21)[2].

Forman (2007) [2] wrote in his work:

As previously with Marx, we see here once again with Veblen the helpfulness of the distinction between rank and role—between the ‘absolute’ rankings of science and of technology on scales of cultural values and the ‘relative’ roles of science and technology


[1] Speculation: By filling those fields, we may be providing Turnitin with information that the company uses internally to optimize algorithms or the business model.

[2] Paul Forman (2007): The Primacy of Science in Modernity, of Technology in Postmodernity, and of Ideology in the History of Technology, History and Technology: An International Journal, 23:1-2, 1-152.