Academic integrity

Maintaining your integrity, or honesty, at university is as important as elsewhere in your life. Universities everywhere take academic integrity seriously, and breaching it by cheating or plagiarising can end your study and impact on your work options in the future.

How do I demonstrate integrity?

You can demonstrate integrity in your academic work easily. Using a convention such as referencing, you can indicate which sources you used to complete your assessment tasks. Acknowledging the work of others is a matter of honesty, and it is an important characteristic of university life. Correctly referencing work that has already been undertaken in your field provides a network of information that others may follow, learn from, and contribute to, for the benefit of everyone.

If you use someone else’s ideas, information or words without acknowledging them, then you may be charged with plagiarising as this is deemed to be academic misconduct. Many students are unfamiliar with the writing conventions of university study when they commence, and most students do not intend to plagiarise in assessments. However, even accidental plagiarism can trigger academic penalties for improper conduct.

Breaches of academic integrity

Plagiarising someone’s work by not acknowledging them in yours is just one form of academic misconduct. Whether it is intentional or unintentional, the same penalties apply. Following are seven forms cheating can take:

  • Collusion: working with other students on an assessment and then claiming it as your own.
  • Verbatim copying: copying material word-for-word, or cutting and pasting it, and presenting it as your own without citing the source.
  • Sham paraphrasing: copying material word-for-word, or cutting and pasting it, and presenting it as a paraphrase rather than a direct quote.
  • Illicit paraphrasing: using material that is closely paraphrased or summarised, without using direct quotes or citing the source.
  • Self-plagiarism or recycling: submitting an old assignment, or parts of it, as new work without acknowledgement or permission from the Course Coordinator.
  • Ghost writing: using work written by another person and presenting it as your own, including text produced for free or at a cost.
  • Bullying: taking and using work written by another and, even if edited, presenting it as your own; and where material was obtained inappropriately such as through emotional, social or physical pressure.
    (Walker, 1998)

If you are found to have plagiarised, there are a range of outcomes that could occur, from failing the assignment to failing the entire subject and even (in extreme cases) being removed from the degree altogether. For more information on this it’s best to check out the plagiarism policy.

Whose responsibility is it?

Studying and working with integrity is everyone’s responsibility. Maintaining an honest approach to study and research is a process in which everyone is involved, from first-year students to senior lecturers, professors and researchers.

As adult learners, you are expected to build on your skills throughout your study. The persistent deadlines of assessment tasks can make a busy timetable seem impossible, so it is critical you establish a routine to ensure you have enough time to produce good work. Avoid last-minute stress that may cause you to take risks with your writing.

In addition to having effective time management skills, developing good practice in referencing and citation is a key part of being successful in your study.

Check your understanding of what academic integrity means by completing the Academic Integrity Module (AIM).

Build on your academic writing skills

Achieve your study goals by:

Student Academic Leaders (SALs) are available at the online ASK Desk, and on-campus to help you acquire the skills to produce your best work, and avoid being charged with plagiarism. Learning Skills Advisors can help you to develop effective referencing and writing skills.

Library staff also offer advice, workshops and software to help with referencing. Go to the library or visit the online referencing tool, FedCite.