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Bachelor Thesis UC3M: Avoiding plagiarism

Academic Integrity


A TFG or Bachelor Thesis must be an original work of research and must contain personal contributions and ideas from the student. Academic papers must go beyond the reprocessing of information learned in lectures and consulted sources, data analysis and the presentation of results.

Academic and intellectual honesty consists of distinguishing between your own words and ideas and the words and ideas taken from other sources.

Academic dishonesty is reflected in plagiarism, fabrication and falsification, among other conducts.

It is essential in research papers to recognize contributions with precise bibliographic citations that clearly identify the researcher’s own work and that of others, so that there are no doubts about the contribution of the research.


All sources from which the student obtains information for the TFG must be acknowledged: to distinguish one’s own words and ideas from those of other sources, but also so that one’s own contributions are acknowledged, establishing them in the context of the subject one is researching and allowing for the verification of the sources.

Quotation: it is the verbatim use of a text extracted from a consulted source, and must be always placed between quotation marks without changing the typography relative to the rest of the text. If the quotation is longer than three lines give its own paragraph. Every quote must always indicate author and source.

Paraphrase: it is the reformulation of words and ideas extracted from a consulted source, in your own words, so that a new and different sentence is created from the original. Your paraphrase should not be placed within quotation marks, but it is always necessary to cite the author and the source.


As a measure of academic honesty, you must properly cite all the documents and other sources of information used in the creation of the work: when in doubt, cite.

To avoid plagiarism, all sources from which information is obtained must be acknowledged. The sources must be properly cited within the text, and the corresponding references must be included in the bibliography at the end of the work. Sources of information might be printed books, journal articles or other documents consulted in the library, and any kind of information obtained from the Internet--text, graphics, etcetera--must also be cited, regardless of whether the author is known, or whether it is copyright-free content.


You can cite and paraphrase other authors’ texts as long as you mention author and source, and within the limits of proportionality and legality.

Spanish law on intellectual property states that the reproduction of other authors’ materials must always be done with the copyright owner’s permission. However, it grants as an exception the “right to quote” to authors of academic papers. In your project, you can incorporate fragments of other copyrighted works as quotes without requesting permission from the author, as long as all the following conditions are met:

  • the work cited has previously been disseminated
  • the fragments are used as quotes, analysis, commentary or critical evaluation
  • a proportionate part of the original work is quoted, to an extent that is justified by the purpose
  • the author’s name and the original source of the work are properly included in the quote

The use of works in the public domain (no copyright), like classic texts, is free because the patrimonial rights of the author have expired, though not the moral rights, so the author’s name and the source must always be cited. If you use another author’s materials which have free licenses (like Creative Commons), you must also cite the author’s name and the source, respecting the conditions of the license. If you use materials you found on the Internet and they are of spurious or unknown authorship, you must cite their sources, in addition to taking reasonable precautions with regard to their authenticity and accuracy.


Use our Referencing Guide to learn how to write citations and their corresponding bibliographic references in your TFG according to the style or guideline appropriate for the subject.

Keep in mind that you must cite all the materials you use, whether they are books or articles from the library or any other kind of material you found on the Internet. It is necessary to cite both copyrighted works and works in the public domain (these can be used freely but you must always acknowledge the author) or materials with free licenses like Creative Commons (the acknowledgement of which means mentioning four elements: the title, the author, the source and the license).

Plagiarism and academic fraud


To plagiarize is “to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own; or to use (another's production) without crediting the source; or to commit literary theft; or to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Whenever you use the material of others, whether from books, articles, images, music, etc., you have to cite the source and the author. If you do not, you are appropriating the product of another person’s work, the result of which is an act of plagiarism. This might even have legal consequences (Art. 270 of the Spanish Penal Code).

Spanish Law 3/2022  on university coexistence specifies in its art. 11 g that it is considered a very serious offense "to plagiarize totally or partially a work, or commit academic fraud in the preparation of the Bachelor Thesis or Final Degree Project (TFG), the Master Final Project or Master Thesis (TFM), or the Ph. D. Thesis. Academic fraud will be understood as any premeditated behavior tending to falsify the results of an exam or work, one's own or another's, carried out as a requirement to pass a subject or accredit academic performance".


If you are not sure whether the use you are making of someone else’s material might be considered plagiarism, when in doubt, cite. Proper citation of all sources of information is the best way to avoid voluntary or involuntary plagiarism.

Plagiarism: Not plagiarism:

Copying word for word someone else's text without citing author and source

Copying a short fragment of someone else’s text and citing the author and the source

Self-plagiarism: copying and reusing one's own text without citing it and mentioning that it is a previous work in the TFG bibliography 

Copying literally and citing as such one’s own previous work included in the TFG reference list

Poor paraphrasing: copying, changing certain words or the order of a sentence of someone else’s work, maintaining the original idea without providing a personal idea

Presenting original ideas based on the knowledge generated by others, or based on common knowledge

We recommend consulting the Turnitin web The Plagiarism Spectrum, which lists 10 kinds of plagiarism and presents very detailed examples of plagiarism, poor paraphrasing and fabrication.


The university uses the Turnitin Feedback Studio program within “Aula Global” when students submit their research papers. This program compares the originality of the work submitted by each student with millions of electronic resources and detects those parts of the text that have been copied and pasted. If the student has done the citation and the bibliographic reference of the documents they used as sources correctly, Turnitin will not mark them as coinciding with another work (plagiarism), but it will mark them as plagiarism if the student has paraphrased poorly. 

If students use any free text matching tool alternative to Turnitin we recommend them to consult the conditions of document delivery, to be careful about the rights they transfer when depositing or with the uses this service can make of the document. These tools may not guarantee that Turnitin will not be able to subsequently detect matches in final submissions.


Fabrication and falsification are two very similar manifestations of academic fraud:

Fabrication might consist of the creation of false data as opposed to using real and verifiable data to justify some results or, for example, artificially expanding the bibliography by including invented citations of authentic works, citations of works that have not been consulted, or citations of works that do not exist.

Falsification might consist of manipulating authentic data, like concealing data unfavorable to the conclusions that one is trying to reach, or the biased use of data that one has collected, the manipulation of results, the manipulation of the processes of data collection, or the distortion of graphics and images to reach forced conclusions.



The author is the natural person who creates a literary, artistic or scientific work, and to whom the intellectual property rights of the work correspond by the mere fact of having created it. The creator of a Bachelor Thesis (TFG) at the university is the student, and therefore the author. As the author of the TFG, you are the owner of the intellectual property rights.

However, there might be circumstances that impinge on the control of these rights and condition the dissemination of the work and its commercial exploitation. When companies or institutions that require confidentiality participate in the development of the project, or when the content of the document may involve the generation of patents, the UC3M Master student must ask the Director for indications, such as measures which respect the previously arranged commitments to confidentiality and conditions for commercial exploitation

Likewise, one must always be aware of the possible existence of co-authorships, acknowledging the contributions of authors to a collective work derived from the project, whether it is a publication, a patent or another intellectual property title.


In the first place, you have moral rights, which are personal rights of the author. These are inalienable and cannot be waived, and they allow you to

  • decide whether your work should be disseminated and how
  • decide whether your work should be disseminated under your name
  • demand to be recognized as the author
  • demand respect for the integrity of your work
  • modify your work

Secondly, you have patrimonial rights, which are transferable economic rights called exploitation rights. As the author, you can decide about the production, distribution, transformation and public communication of your work,always keeping in mind the exceptional conditions of confidentiality or commercial exploitation that were agreed upon.


As an author, you can put your work under a Creative Commons license, which complements the copyright, allowing you to share and reuse published content under certain conditions. We recommend that students use the CC BY NC ND license (Attribution, NonCommercial, NoDerivatives) for their projects so that they can share them pro bono, maintaining their integrity and acknowledging the original authorship..


Intellectual Property

InterroganteDo you need help with questions about copyright?

On this web page, you can find answers to your questions about authorship, licenses, copyright, editing and publishing, new technologies, audiovisual material and research data. In addition, library staff members who are specialized in the subject of copyright can answer questions about topics such as citing the texts of other authors, reusing your own material, translations, the transfer of rights, the use of images and videos or open access publishing.