What is Academic Integrity?
As a student, your number one task is to learn new things. Just like your professors, however, you are a member of a university. As a part of a research community, you are responsible for engaging with existing knowledge and contributing ideas of your own. Academics—including you!—build knowledge through rigorous research that expands on the contributions of others, both in the faraway past and around the world today. This is called scholarship. Academic integrity, in short, means being an honest, diligent, and responsible scholar. Your professor won’t expect you to write a “perfect” paper; but they do expect you to do your work with academic integrity. This includes:
- Creating and expressing your own original ideas
- Engaging with the ideas of others, both past and present, in a variety of scholarly platforms such as research journals, books by academics, lectures, etc.
- Explicitly acknowledging the sources of your knowledge, especially through accurate citation practices
- Completing assignments independently or acknowledging collaboration when appropriate
- Accurately reporting the results of your research, e.g., when collecting data in a lab
- Taking exams without cheating
Frequently Asked Questions
How does it impact me?
Academic integrity is the foundation of university success. Both students and faculty are engaged in producing new knowledge and this activity proceeds by building on the work of previous scholars; this can’t take place without responsible citation and research. Learning how to express original ideas, cite sources that support your argument, work independently, and report results accurately and honestly are skills that carry you beyond university to serve you in the workforce. Academic dishonesty not only cheats you of valuable learning experiences, but can result in failing an assignment, receiving a mark on your transcripts, or more permanent repercussions for your academic career. To read more examples of academic dishonesty and its repercussions, check out the Annual Report on Student Discipline.
How does plagiarism play a role?
Plagiarism may be:
Accidental or Unintentional
You may not even know that you're plagiarizing. Make sure you understand the difference between quoting and paraphrasing, as well as proper ways to cite material.
This time you're well aware of what you're doing. Purposefully using someone else's ideas or work without proper acknowledgment is plagiarism. This includes turning in borrowed or bought research papers as your own, as well as minorly altering or paraphrasing someone else’s words or ideas without citing them.
It's your own work so you should be able to do what you want with it, right? Wrong. Handing in the same term paper (or substantially the same term paper) for two courses without getting permission from your instructor is plagiarism.
Do professors really check for plagiarism?
YES! Instructors often keep copies of previous assignments for reference. In addition, UBC subscribes to TurnItIn.com, an online service that scans essay and term papers to check for material copied from web sites or purchased from essay mills, published works, or previously submitted essays.
Understand your responsibilities and learn what's considered to be academic misconduct.
Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism
1. Get started early to avoid panic situations which might tempt you to plagiarize. Try the Assignment Calculator to help you manage your research and writing time.
2. Take careful notes as you read. Always note where you found the ideas you are using. Use Refworks to keep track of your sources as you go along.
3. Familiarize yourself with the citation style(s) that are commonly used in your courses. There are programs that can help you keep track of your citations and sources, including Zotero, Refworks, and more. Different disciplines use different style guides, so check with your instructor to make sure you are using the right one. Some of the most common style guides are MLA, APA and Turabian/Chicago.
4. Acknowledge ALL Sources from which you use ideas. This includes books, journal articles, websites, e-mail communication(s), listserv, film(s), videos, audio recordings, etc.
5. Always cite:
- Direct quotations taken from sources - place quotation marks “” around direct quotes as you write them down, to remember which are direct quotes and which are not.
- Paraphrased ideas and opinions taken from someone else's work.
- Summaries of ideas taken from someone else's work.
- Factual information, including statistics or other data – with the exception of anything that is considered common knowledge (i.e. well known, inarguable facts like "British Columbia is a province in Canada").
6. When reviewing your paper, ask yourself:
- Is the idea or argument presented mine?
- Are the words my own?
- Can my work be clearly distinguished from the work of others?
- Resource Guides for Students: guides for citing sources, citing images, using Creative Commons and respecting copyright
- Why Should I Care About Copyright: A Students' Guide
- Copyright Guidelines for UBC Students
- Plagiarism and Graduate Students
- Policies on Academic Misconduct
- Scholarly Integrity (UBC Policy #85)
- Discipline for Academic Misconduct (UBC Calendar)
- Center for Academic Integrity
- Purdue OWL
- Harvard's Principles of Paraphrasing Tutorial