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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.

Academic Integrity

One of the best ways to be an ethical researcher is to choose to act in honest ways. However, it can sometimes be difficult to know whether or not you might unintentionally be doing something unethical. This page will help you to identify specific types of academic misconduct and give you tips on how to be an ethical researcher. 

Types of Misconduct

There are many different ways someone might act in a way that is unethical in the research process. Academic integrity isn't about just avoiding cheating or choosing not to plagiarize, it's about understanding how to give credit where it's deserved and ethically building on ideas of previous researchers. 

Listed below are just some examples of the most common types of academic misconduct. Although students sometimes might unknowingly plagiarized, or fail to cite something properly, the key to avoiding intentional or unintentional misconduct is to identify opportunities to act ethically. 


Examples of Cheating


Cheating is committing fraud and/or deception on a record, report, paper, computer assignment, examiniation, or any other course or field placement assignment. Examples of cheating include: 

How to Avoid Cheating

Cheating is often one of the easier types of misconduct to avoid because you can usually consciously choose not to cheat. Some ways you can avoid cheating are by:

  • Giving yourself enough time to prepare for a test or quiz.

  • Keeping your eyes on your own work while in-class and not helping others to cheat.

  • Creating original work for each assignment and not reusing papers and work from other classes.

  • Taking the time needed to create an accurate bibliography for your paper.

Examples of Plagiarism


Plagiarism is representing someone else's ideas, words, statements, or other work as one's own without proper acknowledgement or citation. Plagiarism can happen intentionally or unintentionally so it's good to know how to recognize what constitutes plagiarism. Some examples of plagiarism include:

  • Copying word for word or lifting phrases or a unique word from a source or reference, whether oral, printed, or on the internet, without proper attribution
  • Paraphrasing, that is, using another person's written words or ideas, albeit in one's own words, as if they were one's own thoughts.
  • Borrowing facts, statistics, graphs, or other illustrative material without proper reference, unless the information is common knowledge, in common public use.

How to Avoid Plagiarism

The key to avoiding plagiarism is to give credit where credit is due. Some ways to not plagiarize include: 

  • Taking good notes as you read. Note the author and page number of where you read ideas and/or facts.
  • Including quotation marks in your notes if you copy exact original wording.
  • Using a good system of organizing your research notes. Make time to provide citations in your paper.
  • Making sure to use in-text citations to give authors credit for their ideas. Even if you change the wording or paraphrase text in your paper, if it's not something that's common knowledge it should be cited. 
  • Checking with your professor, or a librarian if you're not sure if something is common knowledge and doesn't need a citation.

Falsification of Data, Records, and Official Documents

Falsification of Data, Records, and/or Official Documents

Academic integrity isn't just about the words and ideas that you present. It's also about the data you use, and the documents which relate to you throughout your professional life. Here are some examples of what it means to falsify information:

Unacceptable Collaboration

Unacceptable Collaboration

You will often be asked to work with others as a part of your School of Social Work assignments, so it can become common place to think that all work can be collaborative. The truth is that collaboration is sometimes unacceptable when a student works with another or others on a project and then submits written work which is represented explicitly or implicitly as the student's own work. 

Equally unacceptable is submitting a group project in which you did little or none of the work yet you take the credit for the work done by others within your group.