Plagiarism and Copyright

In the academic world it is essential to have a grasp of issues pertaining to plagiarism and copyright. Here we give you the basics.

Plagiarism FAQ

What is plagiarism?

To plagiarize means using somebody else's work and presenting it as your own without referring to the source. It may be a text, idea, theory, image, chart, figure, music, computer program or a product. Even reformulation, paraphrasing, text to your own words, without referencing the source is plagiarism. Plagiarism may also violate Copyright laws.

What is self-plagiarism?

Self-plagiarism is when you re-use your own previously published or submitted texts in a new work without giving proper reference to the previous work. You should refer to your own texts in in the same way as you do with other sources.

What happens if I plagiarize?

Plagiarism is a serious offense against good academic practice and can if worse comes to worst result in temporary suspension from studies by decision of The Disciplinary Board at Linköping University. A student who is suspended may not participate in lectures, laboratory sessions, seminars, exams, tutorials, assignments, and may not have access to LiU's computer labs. The suspension may also affect payment of student support.

How do I avoid plagiarism?

  • When using other writers' work, re-write the original entirely in your own words. When giving exact quotes from someone else’s work use the original text in quotations marks and give a correct reference.
  • Always refer and quote in accordance with good academic practice. You can read more about this on the page Citation technique and styles.
  • Always ask the copyright holder’s permission to use photographs, figures, diagrams in your own work. Not doing so is a violation of copyright law.

What plagiarism detection systems are used at Linköping University?

Linköping University can submit student texts to Ouriginal (formerly Urkund), which is a plagiarism-checking tool for teachers. Submitted texts are checked against a very large database of material taken from the Internet, published material and student material.

More about Ouriginal

Plagiarism-check of publications at a higher scientific level and theses, can be done using Similarity Check which check against academic sources such as journal articles and the Internet.


Copyright governs how you are allowed to use someone else's work. It gives the creators, copyright holders, of a work the right to decide how their work may be used.

What material is protected by copyright?

Copyrighted material can be a text, a recorded speech, a computer program, an artistic work of some kind, a chart, figure, image, or an audio or a video recording. Material available in print and on the Internet are both protected by copyright.

You need the copyright holder’s permission to use copyrighted material, for example in your student thesis if it is published online. The copyright holder can for example be an author, a photographer, an artist or a composer.

Copyright in Sweden is valid throughout the lifetime of the copyright holder and 70 years after the copyright holder has died.

You are the copyright holder for your student thesis.

The Higher Education Institutions (HEI) Agreement

Through agreements concluded between Swedish universities and Bonus Copyright Access, teachers and students are permitted to share and distribute copyrighted material for educational purposes at the University by:

  • Digitally saving it on the University's closed network (e.g. Lisam)
  • Using copied material in presentations such as PowerPoint presentations
  • Saving and distributing digital presentations at the University's closed network and via email to registered students
  • Handing out paper copies to registered students

It is allowed to copy a limited number of pages of a work for private use, which includes studies. In accordance with the agreement with Bonus Copyright Access, it is allowed to copy 15 per cent of a publication, but never more than 15 pages.

Reuse copyrighted material

You may always quote and reference texts that someone else has created without permission from the copyright holder, but to a reasonable extent, and what is required by context and with proper reference.

If you want to use images, figures, charts that someone else has created, different rules apply depending on how your text will be published:

  • If your text is only to be submitted for examination and not distributed in print and/or electronically, no permission is required from the copyright holder. This includes submitting a printed copy of a work to your teacher or uploading your report in Lisam.
  • When a student thesis is distributed publicly in print and/or electronically outside the university, permission is required from the copyright holder to reuse photos, diagrams and figures in your thesis.

If you are unable to obtain the permission of the copyright owner, the work cannot be reused in your thesis.

Creative Commons Licenses (CC)

Some content on the Internet is provided with a license agreement through Creative Commons (CC), which tells you how you are allowed to use the material, based on the copyright owner's wishes, without having to ask for further permission. Credit must always be given to the creator of the work.

When reusing material with a CC license, a reference must always be given, which should contain a link to the proper CC license. 

Read more about Creative Commons

Publish Student thesis

As the author of your student thesis, you are the copyright holder. Hence you may choose whether you wish to publish the thesis online.

On LiU E-Press’ website you can find information on how to proceed. In the publication agreement that you need to sign, you can choose whether you want to publish the thesis with a Creative Commons license (CC BY or CC BY-NC). You are responsible for stating the license in your work.

Read more: Publish your student thesis

Resources on plagiarism and copyright

Anti-Plagiarism Guide (University of Borås)
Avoiding Plagiarism – Paraphrasing (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Guiding students away from plagiarism (KTH)
-English version starts on page 85 i the document
Refero (an anti-plagiarism tutorial, Linnaeus University & Blekinge Institute of Technology)
About Bonus (Bonus Copyright Access)
FAQ: Plagiarism & Copyright (Linköping University Library)

Contact us

If you have questions about plagiarism or copyright issues you are welcome you contact us:

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