Plagiarism is one of the hardest things for students to understand and to avoid doing. Unforunately many overseas students do not get enough help and this is one reason why it happens. Plagiarism is not something that you can be warned against once, and then forgotten about. You have to learn about it as a topic. Even lecturers and tutors argue amongst themselves sometimes about what is acceptable and unacceptable from students. Sometimes students deliberately plagiarise knowing what they are doing, sometimes they plagiarise accidentally because they don’t know what is acceptable in western academic culture. Unfortunately, in either case, the penalities at university are likely to be very severe, with the very least punishment being scoring a ‘zero’ in that piece of work without an option to resubmit it.
The first step in avoiding plagiarism is beginning to understand what it is, what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. You will not gain a thorough understanding of it immediately. You should be prepared to read about it, think about it, read about it in some other sources, think about it again and so on until you build up an appreciation of the issues involved.
Excellent reading here is from Essex University and has some really useful comments to make regarding plagiarism.
The other link that I have here is a newspaper article about overseas students buying essays for university. The point that I am trying to make by showing you this article is that you will not be fooling anyone if you hand in work which is not yours, because your tutors or lecturers will know it’s not yours! It is upsetting to see students getting into trouble in this way. I assure you that I know when a student has not written a piece of work and it leads to all sort of problems. Write your work as well as you can in English, and then take it to someone in the English Language Centre who should sit down with you and help you improve it. Remember - this is a hot issue and if you read this article you will realise that everybody is talking about it all the time so if you try it, you probably won’t get away with it! Here’s the article from the BBC.