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Introduction to Academic Integrity

Resources to help understand what academic integrity, academic ethics, and plagiarism are in practice

Participating in Your Courses

Embrace a Learner-Centered Culture 

Although the learner-centered approach is dominant in the U.S., classroom style depends on the professor’s style, as well as the field of study. The learner-centered model is increasingly used in all disciplines often used in the social sciences, education, and the humanities.  It seeks to engage students in the classroom to be responsible for their own learning as professors facilitate the learning process.


Independent thinking and analysis is highly valued and is more important than memorization

As you pursue your studies, you should critique theories, evaluate options, formulate models, and challenge yourself. Bring your conclusions and questions to class and share your insights with your classmates and professors. Unlike some other cultures, U.S. culture encourages people to stand out from their peers (rather than blending in with them) through their achievements and independent and creative thinking.


Respectful disagreement during class discussion is accepted

Always be prepared to present and defend your ideas. Always do so with respect for the ideas presented by your professor and your classmates.

The above information is adapted from the University of Pittsburg Library and Abilene Christian University.

Representing Your Work and Sharing Materials

Be aware and respectful of other people's intellectual property.  In Western cultures, an individual is thought to own original ideas, words, and knowledge. This means that students must carefully give credit to the authors of sources they use through citations. What is already written must be cited, including written sources in books, journal articles, unpublished manuscripts, and the Web or other Internet sources. There are also cases when spoken words, such as a formal speech, must be cited. 


Honesty is a Critical Element of Academic Culture

Universities operate on an honor system based on a simple principle of academic honesty: each student’s answers or written submissions must reflect his or her personal understanding and work.


Appropriate and Inappropriate Times to Share Information and Ideas

As a general rule, students can share class notes, ideas, and materials when expressly instructed by the professor to do so as part of an exercise. In special circumstances, for example, when you become ill, the professor may permit you to borrow notes from a lecture or discussion you may have missed. However, there are certain situations and contexts where this sharing is not appropriate. These can be on a test (of course) but also when the professor explicitly states, for example, that all work on a project must be done individually. 


The above information is adapted from the University of Pittsburg Library and Abilene Christian University.​

Instructors: Fostering a Culture of Academic Integrity

Many college students report that they have engaged in academically dishonest behavior because of time constraints, not knowing how to approach an assignment, or unintentionally by collaborating on classwork.  Often, students do not intentionally plagiarize or work in an academically dishonest manner.  In addition, students are often unaware of the various disciplinary norms for attributing the work or ideas of others.  These resources will help you understand the reasons behind academic dishonesty and provide you with tools to promote academic integrity and teachable moments in your classroom.


It is very important to design course materials that encourage students not simply to recycle information but to investigate and analyze its sources. This includes:


  • Building support for researched writing (such as the analysis of models, individual/group conferences, or peer review) into course designs

  • Stating in writing their policies and expectations for documenting sources

  • Teaching students the conventions for citing documents and acknowledging sources in their field, and allowing students to practice these skills

  • Avoiding the use of recycled or formulaic assignments that may invite stock or plagiarized responses;

  • Engaging students in the process of writing, which produces materials such as notes, drafts, and revisions that are difficult to plagiarize

  • Discussing problems students may encounter in documenting and analyzing sources, and offering strategies for avoiding or solving those problems

The information above is adapted from the Council of Writing Program Administrators.