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Plagiarism and Academic Integrity

What is academic integrity?

Academic integrity is a code of ethics for teachers, students, researchers, and staff. It means that everyone at the university is expected to work honestly and fairly. The University of Guelph community takes pride in conducting research, teaching, and learning that is honest, trustworthy, and respectful of others.

Academic misconduct is behaviour that breaks the academic integrity code set out by the university. We trust that the research and degrees we produce are based on honest, ethical work. When people use dishonest or unethical methods in their work, they break that trust.

Why is academic integrity important?

Knowledge is built on previous research. Thus, we have to trust that what others say they have done is valid. If it is not valid, later work based on that knowledge will also be flawed.

By acting ethically, you set an example for others and ensure that your academic work and degree continues to hold its value and meaning.

Academic misconduct puts honest students at a disadvantage. While honest students put in the time and effort to complete their own assignments, dishonest students take a shortcut. Students who have cheated also suffer by not gaining relevant knowledge and skills. At a broader level, this unfairness and dishonesty can lead to mistrust and resentment among students and instructors.

Academic misconduct also has practical consequences in the world outside of the university: Who would want to be on a bridge designed by an engineer who copied others’ assignments? Who would want to eat meat that had been certified as contaminant-free by an inspector who paid someone to write his or her toxicology exam?

What does academic integrity mean to me?

As a member of the University of Guelph community, you can strengthen our institution by maintaining the highest standards of integrity and excellence in your own work.

Many of the decisions you make at university will have an ethical component. Your decisions shape who you are and how others know you. For example, do you meet your commitments to others? Do you complete your assignments honestly? Do you cite your sources and give credit to others where it is due?

Instructors and administrators act ethically by using fair grading practices and providing you access to Student Judicial Services.

What are some examples of academic misconduct?

  • Completing an online quiz as a group when it was assigned individually
  • Using a friend’s assignment as a “guide” to complete your own
  • Using a source in an assignment without citing it
  • Bringing notes to an exam without permission
  • Creating a fake doctor’s note to avoid an exam 
  • Damaging or hiding library books
  • Buying a paper and submitting it as your own work
  • Submitting a paper that you wrote for another class

What can I do?

  • Be aware of the ethical component of many of the decisions you will be faced with at university.
  • Know all of your decisions--big or small--contribute to who you are and how others know you. 
  • Act ethically so you can take pride in knowing that you earned your degree. You can also take pride in knowing that you have contributed to the integrity of the university community.
  • Ask questions and seek out help from instructors, supervisors, or the library whenever you’re uncertain about what is expected of you.

Resources to help with writing your essay

Use these resources to help you write your essay.

Guide: Write a University EssayGuide: Cite Your SourcesVideo: Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism: From Passage to Paraphrase

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