Academic integrity and avoiding plagiarism
Watch the videos on the Academic Integrity website on Study Direct to learn more
What is Academic Misconduct?
Academic misconduct is cheating. It includes plagiarism, collusion, fabrication of results, and cheating in exams. It also includes asking someone to write assignments for you, or buying an essay from an essay writing company. This sort of cheating is known as 'personation' and is treated very seriously by the university. You will find more detailed definitions and information about academic misconduct in your Examination and Assessment handbook.
Sometimes students commit academic misconduct without fully understanding why they have done something wrong. To protect yourself from committing academic misconduct, you should understand what it is and learn some of the common mistakes students make.
This section will show you what academic misconduct is, when it usually happens, and how to avoid it. Before we look at the details, take note of the three rules which should guide you throughout your academic career.
The three golden rules for avoiding academic misconduct
- Remember that all the work you submit has to be your own. If you refer to another person's work, you must acknowledge it properly. Find out how to do this on the referencing pages.
- If you are unsure whether what you are doing is correct, ask for help. Your tutor or Academic Advisor can help you with academic enquiries. Student Mentors and RLF Writers in Residence also offer free assistance.
- If you are suffering from difficult personal circumstances, don't keep it to yourself. You can receive confidential help from the Student Life Centre if you have been affected by mental or physical illness, or problems such as bereavement.
With these rules in mind, the following pages give more detailed guidance on different kinds of academic misconduct and how to avoid them. The final section gives advice on how academic misconduct is handled, and what to do if you have been accused of academic misconduct:
Try using the Turnitin - Originality Reports tool in Study Direct to check your draft assignments for any text matches.
What is Academic Integrity?
The University of Sussex has a set of Academic Integrity Values which all students are expected to follow. These values are:
- Honesty: The work you produce for assessment is your own and where you have used other’s work, this is clearly acknowledged: this is done by adding references to your assessments. Your School will tell you which referencing system to use.
- Trust: Your tutors and fellow students can trust you to be honest about the work you produce and submit for assessment.
- Fairness: You agree that all students should be fairly treated and that you do not try to gain advantage by not producing your own work for assessment.
- Respect: You treat other members of the academic community with respect: fellow students, your tutors and the admin staff.
- Responsibility: You take responsibility for your own learning and follow the University of Sussex Academic Integrity values and assessment regulations.
Mobile site | Contact Skills Hub
Plagiarism is the most common and most misunderstood form of violation.
Some examples include…
- Using direct quotes without quotation marks
- Misrepresenting the author’s ideas or main points
- Using someone else’s ideas without citing them as such
- Using another person to write, re-write, or edit your work
- Using one piece of work from one course for another course without instructor permission
- Failing to attach all group members’ names to an assignment
- Misquoting of sources
Using a direct quotation without quotation marks or a citation
- Example: Historian Jane Doe argues that most Americans believed the war would end quickly.
- In this example, the writer has not quoted or cited the historian’s words. Instead, consider this revision: Historian Jane Doe argues that, “most Americans believed the war would end quickly” (23).
Paraphrasing or changing an author’s words or style without citation
- Example: President Lincoln reminded the nation that 87 years ago the founding fathers created a new country, rooted in the concept of freedom for all men.
- In this example, the writer has changed President Lincoln’s words and they have not provided a citation. Instead, consider this revision: President Lincoln reminded the nation that 87 years ago the founding fathers created a new country, rooted in the concept of freedom for all men (Wikipedia). Or, you may simply provide the quote: President Lincoln reminded the nation that, “Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” (Wikipedia).
Insufficiently acknowledging sources or providing a partial citation
- Example: An historian argues that, most Americans believed the war would end quickly.
- In this example, the writer has failed to provide the author’s name or where the quote is located. Instead, consider this revision: Historian Jane Doe argues that, “most Americans believed the war would end quickly” (23).
- This type of plagiarism also includes failure to list all references on a references or works cited page.
Using the pattern, structure or organization of an author’s argument or ideas without proper citation
Failing to cite sources for information considered non-common
- Example: Napoleon died when he was 51 years old.
- In this example, the writer has failed to provide a citation for Napoleon’s age at death, a fact that may not be common knowledge. Instead, consider this revision: Napoleon died when he was 51 years old (Wikipedia).
Determining what constitutes common knowledge may be difficult. For example, most Americans know that Chicago is the third largest city in the U.S., therefore, a citation is not necessary. If you are unsure what constitutes common knowledge, be safe and cite the source.
Using an essay from course for another without instructor permission
- Example: If you are re-taking a course and you use the final essay from the first course for the second without permission from your instructor, you are plagiarizing. If you submit the same essay to two separate professors (either in the same semester or at a later semester) without both professors’ approval, you are plagiarizing.
Failing to attach all group members’ names to a group project
- Example: If you are working on any group project or assignment and you leave even one group member’s name off the project or assignment when you hand it in to your instructor, you are plagiarizing.
Using someone else to heavily edit or re-write your essay
- Example: If you purchase an essay from the internet, a writer (including a TA or GA), or another student, you are plagiarizing.
- If you pay your roommate, friend, brother, sister, mom, TA/GA, or anyone else to write your paper, you are plagiarizing.
- If you ask someone to edit your essay or re-write you essay in a manner that drastically alters the essay, you are plagiarizing.