What is Academic Integrity?

Before we talk about how to cite, let’s take a minute to think about the stakes. Unfortunately, citation an area where the stakes are high during your university career. As a student, you’re expected to learn by making mistakes. But unfortunately, citation mistakes can be costly. In this chapter, we’re going to avoid taking a punishing approach to source use, but we need to be aware that plagiarism or citation errors can have heavy consequences for students who commit what are called academic integrity violations.

Different universities have different definitions. Here is the definition we use at Kwantlen Polytechnic University:

The University ascribes to the highest standards of academic integrity. Adhering to these standards of academic integrity means observing the values on which good academic work must be founded: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility.  Students are expected to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with these values. These standards of academic integrity require Students to not engage in or tolerate Integrity Violations, including falsification, misrepresentation or deception, as such acts violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others.[1]

You can read the full policy here.

In other words, you must take full responsibility for your work, acknowledge your own efforts, and acknowledge the contributions of others’ efforts. Working/ writing with integrity requires accurately representing what you contributed as well as acknowledging how others have influenced your work. When you are a student, an accurate representation of your knowledge is important because it will allow both you and your professors to know the extent to which you have developed as a scholar.

It’s worth noting that other cultures have different – equally valid – definitions of academic integrity. By making you aware of what we mean by academic integrity in this context, you can be aware of the expectations that are being placed on you.

What Is Plagiarism?

Let’s take a look at a common definition of plagiarism. This one comes from Ohio State University’s First Year Experience Office:

At any stage of the writing process, all academic work submitted to the teacher must be a result of a student’s own thought, research or self-expression. When a student submits work purporting to be [their] own, but which in any way borrows organization, ideas, wording or anything else from a source without appropriate acknowledgment of the fact, [they are] engaging in plagiarism.

Plagiarism can be intentional (knowingly using someone else’s work and presenting it as your own) or unintentional (inaccurately or inadequately citing ideas and words from a source). It may be impossible for your professor to determine whether plagiarized work was intentional or unintentional.

While academic integrity calls for work resulting from your own effort, scholarship requires that you learn from others. So in the world of “academic scholarship” you are actually expected to learn new things from others AND come to new insights on your own. There is an implicit understanding that as a student you will be both using other’s knowledge as well as your own insights to create new scholarship. To do this in a way that meets academic integrity standards you must acknowledge the part of your work that develops from others’ efforts. You do this by citing the work of others. You plagiarize when you fail to acknowledge the work of others and do not follow appropriate citation guidelines.

  1. http://www.kpu.ca/sites/default/files/Policies/ST2%20Student%20Academic%20Integrity%20Policy.pdf


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