This resource page aims to explain academic integrity and why it is important.
Sometimes you may not realize that you may be compromising your academic integrity, so we offer examples of various forms of plagiarism or academic dishonesty, as well as strategies for avoiding plagiarism.
It is also important for you to be familiar with the university policies on academic integrity as well as
the procedures and consequences that may follow if you are accused of academic misconduct. You will also be provided with resources from the Ombusds Office that outline your rights and responsibilities, including your right to a fair process and your responsibility to know the rules
Academic integrity is intellectual honesty and responsibility for academic work that you submit or work on with others. It involves commitment to the values of honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility. It is expected that students will respect these ethical values in all activities related to learning, teaching, research and service.
Academic integrity is important because:
- The university has a responsibility to ensure that students graduate from their programs with the skills that they require to participate successfully in the community or workforce. An inaccurate representation of your disciplinary knowledge, academic skills, and professional competence could be potentially harmful to others’ well-being and could compromise the university’s reputation, as well as your own.
- Students expect to have a high quality learning experience. They need to feel that their hard work is being recognized and fairly evaluated, and that other students do not have an unfair advantage through cheating on exams, essays, or projects.
- One key goal of UVic’s Strategic Plan (p. 6) is to promote civic engagement and global citizenship amongst its students, and upholding the values of honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility – core values of academic integrity – are essential to helping students learn how to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and to develop awareness of the rights and responsibilities of world citizens.
What are the various forms of plagiarism and academic dishonesty?
It’s difficult to name every single way to be academically dishonest. This list names a few:
- Hiring an editor for your written assignments without your instructor's approval. Different departments have different ideas on this, so it's best to ask your instructor.
- Sending a file you know is corrupt to have more time to hand in an assignment
- Buying a paper on the Internet
- Having someone else write your paper or parts of it
- Using someone else’s writing as your own, even just parts of it
- Patch-writing: using pieces of different articles and joining the pieces with some of your own words
- Using someone else’s idea as your own without citing it
- Intellectual dishonesty, like cheating on a test or sharing your answers
- Having someone extensively revise your paper without prior permission from your instructor
- Failing to properly cite ideas or excerpts from the work of others
- Failing to indicate a paraphrase of someone else’s words
- Copying answers and/or ideas from a classmate
- Self-plagiarism: using something—or even parts of something—that you wrote for one course in another course
Policies and Consequences
The UVic calendar has a policy on plagiarism that asks the departments to decide on their own specific policy. The general policy is here.
Please check with your department regarding specific policies and procedures.
As well, the ombudsperson, Martine Conway, has created a great explanation of the UVic policies and procedures through real student examples. The complete document is available here. The following is an excerpt:
All of the following penalties are accompanied by a letter of reprimand which stays with the student’s file for four years after graduation. Please see the UVic Calendar for more detailed information. After following the policies and procedures of your department and in the UVic policy, generally speaking, the penalties may be:
- A grade of zero for the assignment;
- A grade of F for the course;
- Rejection of parts or the whole of a graduate student’s thesis.
Your rights and responsibilities
“Cheating and plagiarizing are serious academic offenses. Instructors and academic units have the responsibility to ensure that standards of academic honesty are met. Depending on the severity of the case, penalties include a warning, a failing grade, a record on the student’s transcript, or a suspension.
- Plagiarism sometimes occurs due to ignorance or confusion, but it is the responsibility of the student to know the rules. Different disciplines may have different norms. Students who are unsure about the standards for citations or for referencing their sources must seek that information from their instructors.
- Students are entitled to a fair process when they are accused of plagiarism or cheating. This includes notification of the offense, which must be fully documented by the instructor, and a reasonable opportunity to be heard.” (Taken from “What you should know about cheating and plagiarism”)
Dealing with an accusation of plagiarism
- It is a good idea to talk to the ombudsperson, Martine Conway. She can inform you of your rights and responsibilities. In general, you can find some great advice on the ombudsperson’s website.
How to avoid plagiarism
- The library has lots of useful information regarding plagiarism. For example, there is an overview and a handout that can both help you understand what is—and what isn’t— plagiarism.
- The Writer's Guide also has a section on plagiarism.
- Group work: Clarify with your instructor or TA to what extent you are allowed to work together and what work is to be done individually.
How can I avoid plagiarism?
There’s an excellent resource written by Margaret Procter at the University of Toronto.
When should I paraphrase?
Always think of the argument that you are making first. If the information you need is worded in a way that is going to make your writing less clear, paraphrasing a quotation is a good way to convey the author’s point without distracting from yours.Just remember: (1) you have to cite your source, even when paraphrasing; and (2) you have to be sure that you are representing the information accurately.
How do I paraphrase correctly?
When paraphrasing, the most important things are to make sure that you are presenting the author’s opinion accurately, and to be very clear about what information is the author’s and what is your own opinion.
When should I summarize?
Summarizing an author’s argument is a great way to create context for an argument that you are making. In general, summaries are useful as an introduction to an author’s thinking; if the article is very important to your argument, you can use a summary to show why it is important. However, when you are at the point in your paper where you are actually talking about the article (for example, if you are disagreeing with the author), it is usually best to quote or paraphrase.
How do I summarize?
When you summarize, you are basically trying to convey the most important point in an article. A good way to do this is to read the entire article and try to put its main point in a single sentence of your own words. Then, double-check by going back to the article and making sure that the author’s thesis statement agrees with what you have written.
When should I quote?
If you are talking about a specific point that an author has made, it is usually appropriate to use a quotation.
How do I quote?
In general, it is a good idea to put a quotation in the middle of a paragraph, with one sentence leading into it (providing context for the quotation) and another leading out (clarifying why the quotation is relevant to the argument that you are making).
How can I find out how to document my sources?
First, consult with your instructor so that you are clear about their expectations. If you require further clarifications, you can consult the UVic Style Guide or ask a reference librarian.
What are some suggestions for avoiding accidental plagiarism?
You’ve already taken an important first step by coming here! The most important thing, though, is to keep well-organized notes: if you copy something from an article or book (whether it is an idea or a quotation), always write the source next to it in your notes. Most accidental plagiarism happens because students forget where they got something from.
How can I find out more about academic integrity?
The UVic policy on academic integrity is available here. There are also these tutorials available:
This link will lead you to quizzes, practice, and more information about avoiding plagiarism.
Are there any interactive quizzes I can try?
I still have questions. Who should I talk to?
Talk to your instructor or teaching assistant. You can also ask about academic integrity at the Learning Skills Program housed within Counselling Services, the Library, and the Writing Centre.
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