Academic Integrity

One of the main activities of academics, researchers, students, and other members of the university research community is to build knowledge and contribute to ongoing scholarly conversations. One of the most important aspects of being part of a research community is practicing academic integrity. “Academic integrity” describes a commitment to the ethical production of knowledge, whether it be at UBC or another institution. This means being honest and transparent about how knowledge is produced, and respecting and acknowledging the work of others.

Doing your work with integrity includes:

  • Acknowledging the sources of your knowledge, especially through citation practices. Citing sources not only allows you to align your work with other scholars, but it also documents the scholarly conversation into which you are entering.
  • Adding your own contributions to an ongoing scholarly conversation. Part of producing knowledge is providing a sense of what knowledge has been produced before, and how you’re building on that knowledge.
  • Accurately reporting the results of your research. When collecting data (as in a lab), it’s important to represent the data fully and honestly (rather than representing the results we’d hope to find).
  • Completing assignments independently or acknowledging the contributions and input of others.

Academic misconduct,” “academic dishonesty,” and “plagiarism” are all terms to describe actions that violate academic integrity. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Not acknowledging other people’s work
  • Taking credit for someone else’s work
  • Resubmitting your own work to another class
  • Falsifying data or results
  • Buying a paper or project to submit as your own work
  • Cheating on an exam

In many cases, students don’t deliberately commit academic misconduct. Rather, often they do so unintentionally because they don’t know how to meet the expectations of integrity (e.g., how and when to cite).

In writing-based assignments, plagiarism -- when the ideas and/or words of others are included without citation -- is a common form of academic misconduct. Here are some tips for practicing academic integrity and avoiding plagiarism:

  • Remember the purpose of research and citation. You are documenting what’s known about your topic so that you can add your voice to the conversation and extend that knowledge.
  • Make sure to give yourself enough time on assignments. Leaving things to the last minute may result in panic situations where plagiarism and cheating are tempting. And rushing through assignments might make it difficult to keep track of all your sources.
  • Document your sources as you go. Make sure to keep a list of all the material you’re engaging with and noting where you found it.
  • Familiarize yourself with the citation style(s) that are used in your courses and disciplines.
  • Acknowledge all sources (not just scholarly ones). This includes books, journal articles, websites (including Wikipedia), social media posts, email, images, figures, graphs, and lectures.
  • Make sure you know when to cite! You should always cite:
    • Direct quotations
    • Paraphrased content
    • Factual information (with the exception of anything considered common knowledge). But be careful! What counts as common knowledge is audience- and discipline-specific and may even vary from course to course.
  • Ensure that you submit work that is new. In other words, don’t resubmit your own work from previous semesters or classes.
  • If in doubt about whether or not a citation is necessary, cite! It’s always better to over-cite than not cite.

For more information on Academic Integrity, check out these great UBC resources: