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Academic Integrity in Social Work

This is guide for students of the School of Social Work with information on academic integrity and plagiarism.

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Darlene Nichols
Hatcher Graduate Library

Academic Integrity in Social Work

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is conducting your research, teaching, and other academic responsibilities in an honest, responsible, and ethical manner. Plagiarism, cheating, lying or misrepresenting research outcomes, are examples of failure to conduct academic work with integrity. For more information, see the School of Social Work MSW Student Guide and the University of Michigan's Office of Research web page on Research Integrity.

Academic Integrity

Why Should I Care About Academic Integrity?


Besides these expectations from professional organizations, why should you care about completing your work at the University of Michigan School of Social Work in an honest manner? One of the reasons is because you may be faced with some of the following sanctions. 

  • You could be suspended, with or without conditions
  • You could fail your assignment.
  • You could fail your course.
  • You could receive a notation in either your unofficial or official transcript.
  • You could be permanently expelled from school.
  • Your degree could be withheld or revoked. 



Lack of academic integrity or unwittingly plagiarizing during your academic career can also catch up with you long after you leave this MSW program. 


  • Senator John Walsh, Democrat from Montana and appointed to replace Senator Max Baucus early in 2014, decided not to run for this seat in the next election due to a scandal showing he plagiarized the 2007 paper he submitted for his Master's degree from the U.S. Army War College, according to a New York Times article. As a result of this plagiarism incident, Walsh's political career is likely over. 


Research Ethics

In addition to citing appropriately to give credit for other's work and accurately reporting data and other research results, social work researchers are careful to protect participants in their research, especially any vulnerable populations. This applies to academic and evaluation research alike. The NASW Code of Ethics, Section 5.02 addresses this at length, concluding that: "Social workers should educate themselves, their students, and their colleagues about responsible research practices."

The following book chapter provides examples and further explanation of the elections of Section 5.02.

Reamer, F. (2010). Ethical issues in social work research. In Thyer, B. The handbook of social work research methods (pp. 564-578). 55 City Road, London: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi: 10.4135/9781544364902