How not to cheat at uni

At university, there's a thing called 'Academic Integrity' and it's more important than you think. Here's what it is, why it matters, and how to avoid being sent to your faculty's Academic Integrity Officer for cheating *gulp*. 

What is academic integrity? 

When you enter university, you commit to being honest about where the work you submit comes from. Academic Integrity is basically that commitment – to acting honestly, fairly, responsibly, and respectfully when creating and submitting academic work. Anything you submit has to be your own, original work with correct references to other people's ideas. 

Why does it matter? 

Let's be straight – if you submit work that isn't original for that assignment, it's seen as cheating, theft or plagiarism. Lots of students make mistakes, but if you get caught being dishonest about your work, there can be hefty consequences (*cough* kicked out of uni *cough*). 

Besides bad things potentially happening to you, like not graduating, being honest is just the fair thing to do. Paying for answers, copying work, or not referencing people's research and intellectual property is unfair to the people you copy, your fellow students, and yourself*. Creating original work is also part of the learning process and is proof that you've tried to take the subject matter in. 

*and illegal in some cases. 

5 most common mistakes

Every year students submit work that doesn't meet academic integrity standards, either on purpose or by accident. Here are the most common situations to avoid. 

Not referencing images

The internet makes it easy to download or copy images that you might use in a presentation or assignment. But did you know that those images belong to someone and using it can be considered theft? Unless the image specifically states that it can be reshared without credit, any images, diagrams, or designs are the original work of the person who created it and should be referenced like any other idea or information that comes from someone else.

Contract cheating

This is when you receive answers to your assignment, often online, that you then add into your work and pass off as your own ideas or words. Whether you pay for these answers or not, this is cheating.

Poor paraphrasing or referencing sources

This is one of the most common mistakes students make. If an idea or piece of information comes from someone else, you either have to quote it (copy words from the source with a reference) or you have to paraphrase it, where you rewrite it in your own words while including the author’s surname and the year of publication. Referencing is giving credit to the person who did the work.

Plagiarising yourself

Yes, you read that right. You can plagiarise yourself. Self-plagiarism means copying parts or all of a previous assignment and submitting it as new work. Assignments should be original at the time of their completion. Even if you made a really good point in another essay, you can't copy paste it.

Inappropriate collaboration

Ah, group work. In order to test your knowledge of the course material, you might be asked to do individual work in a group assignment. If someone else helps you write or create your part of the assignment, it could be seen as inappropriate collaboration.

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