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Academic Integrity (Module 4 of 4)

Academic integrity means upholding the values of your school with respect to the production of your academic work and the completion of quizzes, tests, and exams.

Every college in Ontario has an academic integrity policy that applies to all members of the college’s community Including students, faculty, and staff. Read your college's academic integrity policy and be sure you understand your responsibilities as a student and scholar.

Academic Integrity at your College

Academic Integrity Credits

Information and examples in the Academic Integrity Module were provided, with permission by:

Academic Integrity Key Terms

Click on a term to view the definition, some examples, and relevant case studies.

Academic Integrity

 
Academic Integrity
 

Within an academic environment, academic integrity is “a commitment, even in the face of adversity, to six fundamental values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage. From these values flow principles of behavior that enable academic communities to translate ideals to action" (ICAI, Fundamental Values Project, 1999).

Academic Offence/ Academic Misconduct

 
Academic Offence/ Academic Misconduct
 

Obtaining or attempting to obtain unfair advantage or credit for academic work for oneself or others by dishonest means. This act can be intentional or unintentional.

Aiding & Abetting

 
Aiding & Abetting
 

Any action that encourages, enables, or causes others to attempt or commit an act of academic misconduct; interfering with the ability of another student to successfully complete academic work.

  • Providing other learners with questions/scenarios/simulations etc. being used on assessments at any time.
  • Damaging any academic work of another learner.
  • Influencing or attempting to influence any College employee responsible for processing grades, evaluating learners, or maintaining academic records, through the use of bribery, threats, or any other means of coercion in order to affect a grade or evaluation.
  • Any forgery, alteration, unauthorized possession or misuse of College documents such as copying or photographing assessment questions and assignments.
  • Unauthorized access of an electronic file for the purpose of using, reading, or altering its contents.
  • Causing a distraction in a testing situation that prevents the professor or proctor from observing other students.

Kim has to take an online exam for her Introduction to Technology course. Kim asks her friend, Mark to sit next to her while she takes the exam to help with the answers. Mark has never taken the Introduction to Technology course, but he knows a lot about information technology. Kim is cheating, which is an academic offense; Mark is also in the wrong.

Although Mark is not in the course, he is committing an academic offence by helping his friend take the exam.

Click on a term to view the definition, some examples, and relevant case studies.

Cheating

 
Cheating
 

Obtaining or attempting to obtain, or aiding another to obtain, credit for work or improvement in evaluation of performance, by dishonest or deceptive means. This includes using unauthorized aids or supports in order to secure an unfair advantage during testing or other evaluation/assessments.

  • Accessing or possessing unauthorized materials, unauthorized information, or devices during assessments.
  • Obtaining an assessment, in whole or in part, in advance of its administration, without the permission of the professor.
  • Changing grades or answers on an assignment for the purpose of regrading.
  • Failing to abide by the instructions of the professor or proctor concerning assessment procedures, such as, but not limited to, talking, or failing to adhere to start/stop times.
  • Using an artificial intelligence tool (e.g.; ChatGPT) for an assignment without the instructor’s permission.

Manuel is in the middle of his biology exam, and despite studying as hard as he could, it’s becoming evident that he overlooked some of the key topics, leaving him unprepared for a significant portion of the exam. He knows that if he hadn’t missed the relevant material during his studying, he would’ve aced the exam. Feeling the weight of potential failure, he glances over at Gaby, a classmate seated to his right, who appears to be confidently marking her own answers. Observing the differences in their answers, Manuel decides to modify his responses to align with Gaby's choices before submitting his exam paper.

Even though Manuel is pretty sure he would've nailed it if he'd brushed up on all the relevant topics covered on the exam, copying answers to an exam is considered cheating, and is an academic offence, regardless of the underlying circumstances.

Contract Cheating

 
Contract Cheating
 

Form of academic misconduct when a person uses an undeclared and/or unauthorized third party to assist them to produce work for academic credit or progression, whether or not payment or other favour is involved.

  • Purchasing an essay or answer keys from a website, editor, or tutor and submitting it as one's own work.
  • Having a third party (i.e., family member, roommate etc.) complete an assignment on one’s behalf.
  • Purchasing or obtaining editing services that make substantial changes to an assignment to the point that it no longer represents the individual student’s own capabilities.

Frank is in his final semester of his studies. He has multiple assignments that are due around the same time, including a major research paper. Frank discovers a website that sells research papers. He checks out the website and finds an example of an essay that is exactly like the topic he would have chosen for his research paper. Frank decides to buy the essay and submit it as his work. He believes buying the work is OK because his version of the paper, had he written it, would be almost the same as the purchased one.

However, Frank has committed an academic offence by not submitting his own work.

Copyright Infringement

 
Copyright Infringement
 

Copying work beyond what is allowed under Canadian Copyright law or as permitted by the copyright owner regardless of referencing.

  • Copying, performing, selling/distributing, or posting another’s work on the internet without their permission. This includes:
    • Downloading, photocopying, or selling all or a substantial part of an infringed copy of a textbook.
    • Streaming an unauthorized copy of a video from a website.
  • Not complying with laws regarding copyright, trademark, and/or licensing agreements pertaining to the use of print and electronic materials, software, databases, and all other resources and materials.
  • See the copyright module on The Learning Portal for more information.

Amad is registered for Introduction to Accounting. The required textbook for the course costs $150 dollars. Amad is not sure he can afford to buy the textbook. Amad’s classmate, Andy, bought the book and tells Amad that he can photocopy his purchased textbook. Andy says that since he owns the book, he can do anything he wants with it.

If Amad photocopies the complete textbook, he is breaking the author's copyright, which is considered an academic offence.

Click on a term to view the definition, some examples, and relevant case studies.

Facilitated Academic Misconduct

 
Facilitated Academic Misconduct
 

Uploading and sharing any course materials or copyrighted content (e.g., assignment, test, exam, rubric, etc.) to a third-party website (e.g., Course Hero, Chegg, etc.) that is not allowed to be distributed, or uploading one's own assignment to a third-party website that is then taken and submitted by another student for credit.

George has recently completed the online midterm exam for his Microeconomics course. George is not confident that he did well on the exam. In order to feel comfortable with his answers, George decides to check his exam answers by uploading and sharing the exam questions and answers on Course Hero.

By doing so, George has intentionally uploaded testing materials to a third-party site and has facilitated academic misconduct.

Falsification/ Misrepresentation

 
Falsification
 

Altering, withholding, or forging documentation, e.g., medical records, correspondence, academic documents, research results or sources to gain an academic advantage.

  • Submission or use of an academic credential such as a transcript, diploma, or degree that has been falsified, tampered with, or modified in any way.
  • Submitting false, fraudulent, or purchased assignments, research or credentials.
  • Taking or releasing, without permission, the ideas or data of others that were shared with the expectation that they were confidential.
  • Falsifying, altering, withholding, or concocting medical records, compassionate documents, correspondence, academic documents, research results, references, or research sources.
  • Forging or using College documents, records, or instruments of identification with intent to defraud.

Li has a lab assignment that has been assigned as a group project. The due date for the assignment is approaching. However, Li’s group is unable to get lab results that are similar to what other groups in the course are getting. Li and his group members decide to make up data so that their results match the results of other groups.

Li and his group are falsifying the results of their work, which is an academic offence.

Click on a term to view the definition, some examples, and relevant case studies.

Inappropriate/ Unauthorized Collaboration

 
Inappropriate/ Unauthorized Collaboration
 

When students work together or share information without specific instructions from the professor.

  • Submitting work prepared collaboratively with another person or people on an assessment that is deemed to be an individual effort.
  • Accessing or possessing unauthorized materials, information, or devices during assessments.
  • Providing other learners with questions/scenarios/simulations/other being used on assessments at any time.
  • Letting your answers be viewed by another or lending previous/ current work to a third party.
  • Submitting the same course work as one or more learners in the course, unless expressly permitted by the professor.
Case Study 1 (unintentional)

Teresa and Yun are taking the same class and have an individual assignment due at the end of the course. A few weeks before the assignment is due, Teresa and Yun discuss possible topics, as well as what resources and ideas they think should be included in the assignment. When Teresa and Yun start working on the assignment, they work independently. However, each student remembers their previous discussions and include within their respective work the almost identical topics, resources and ideas.

Even though Teresa and Yun worked independently while writing their assignment, the collaboration they engaged in prior to the assignment should have included a plan to divide the topics, ideas and sources they had come up with so their final assignments differed in scope and direction.

Case Study 2 (intentional)

Elizabeth is taking a mathematics course. She is very good at math. Elizabeth has an individual take-home exam in which students are expected to calculate the solutions to multiple mathematical formulas. The professor says that each student has to do the work on their own. Elizabeth and several of her classmates decide it would save time if they divided the questions among themselves with each person solving several questions. They share their answers with each other and submit the work individually.

Elizabeth believes that since she would have gotten the answers right anyway, it is OK to work with her classmates on the exam. Elizabeth and her group are intentionally collaborating without permission, which is an academic offence.

Inappropriate Use of Digital Technology

 
Inappropriate Use of Digital Technology
 

Use of digital technology to obtain an unauthorized academic advantage on an assignment, test, or examination; or to interfere with or alter the work of another student, staff, or faculty member.

  • Unauthorized entry into a computer file in order to use, read, transfer or change its contents.
  • Using another student’s ID and password.
  • Bringing an unauthorized device into a test or exam.
  • Using unauthorized software (e.g., generative artificial intelligence such as ChatGPT) during the preparation of an assignment.
  • Unauthorized copying, use and/or transfer of one or more or parts of files or data within a file.

Leilani has a final exam for her French class. This class was a prerequisite for her program, but she feels it is a waste of her time. She’s been dreading this exam for weeks because she’s been busy finishing her capstone project for another class and has had less time to study than she was hoping for. Overwhelmed by anxiety knowing she needs a passing grade in this class to complete her program, she decides to bring her cellphone into the exam. She hides the device discreetly, convinced it will aid her during the exam. As the test progresses, Leilani surreptitiously consults her phone to translate some questions that she doesn’t understand and make sure her grammar is correct.

Leilani just wants a passing grade in this class, she thinks that even though her cellphone is an unauthorized aid, she won't ever be without it in the real world. This is an inappropriate use of digital technology, and is an academic offence.

Improper Research Practices/ Research Misconduct

 
Improper Research Practices
 

Academic research includes the collection, analysis, interpretation and publication of information or data obtained in the scientific laboratory or in the field.

  • Dishonest reporting of investigative results, either through fabrication or falsification.
  • Taking or using the research results of others without permission or due acknowledgement.
  • Misrepresentation or selective reporting of research results or the methods used.

Luca has been working tirelessly on a research project for the entire semester. The deadline is fast approaching, but his results are not lining up with his hypothesis. He fears that he’ll have to redo a lot of his research in order to complete the assignment on time. Luca decides to fabricate some data to support his hypothesis.

Luca has undermined the validity of his findings by favourably altering the results of his research, and in doing so has strayed from proper research practices, which is an academic offence.

Impersonation

 
Impersonation
 

A form of misrepresentation. Impersonation is the act of taking a test, an examination, or any other assessment, either in person or electronically, on another individual’s behalf, with their knowledge and consent. Or in order to improperly gain access to services.

  • Impersonating another or permitting someone to impersonate you, either in person or electronically, for academic assessment or in order to improperly gain access to services.
  • Unauthorized use of another’s identification/username and password.

Jenny is stressed out about her section of a lab and asks her twin sister, Penny, to take her position and carry out the lab on her behalf. Initially hesitant, Penny is swayed by Jenny's persuasive arguments: "Who will know? It won't harm anyone, and it's just this once." Even though Penny looks identical to Jenny, they are not the same person.

By executing the lab on Jenny’s behalf, both sisters committed an academic offence.

Click on a term to view the definition, some examples, and relevant case studies.

Misrepresentation/ Falsification

 
Misrepresentation/ Falsification
 

Altering, withholding, or forging documentation, e.g., medical records, correspondence, academic documents, research results or sources to gain an academic advantage.

  • Submission or use of an academic credential such as a transcript, diploma, or degree that has been falsified, tampered with, or modified in any way.
  • Submitting false, fraudulent, or purchased assignments, research or credentials.
  • Taking or releasing, without permission, the ideas or data of others that were shared with the expectation that they were confidential.
  • Falsifying, altering, withholding, or concocting medical records, compassionate documents, correspondence, academic documents, research results, references, or research sources.
  • Forging or using College documents, records, or instruments of identification with intent to defraud.

When applying to research jobs, Denise realised her marks may be below the threshold listed by her prospective employer. She asks her tech-savvy friend to help change the marks on her transcript so she can get the position she really wants. Convinced that the alteration is undetectable and unlikely to be discovered by the prospective employer, Denise fails to recognize the potential consequences.

Altering a transcript is an example of misrepresentation/ falsification, which is an academic offence, and could end up jeopardizing her opportunities in the long run.

Click on a term to view the definition, some examples, and relevant case studies.

Obstructing/ Unscholarly Behaviour

 
Obstructing/ Unscholarly Behaviour
 

Interfering with the ability of another student to successfully complete academic work.

  • Withholding information from a team member.
  • Excluding other student(s) from a group project.
  • Intentionally missing a group presentation.
  • Not participating in a group project.
  • Giving a friend a higher grade than deserved in a peer-graded assignment.
  • Being disruptive during an exam or other assessment.
  • Altering, destroying, hiding, or otherwise restricting access to academic materials intended for general use.
Case Study 1

Van is taking his mid-term exam for his Mechanical Engineering Technology course. Van has studied hard and finds that he knows the answers to every question. Happy to be doing so well, Van begins to hum a song as he makes his way through the exam. The noises Van makes are distractions to other students taking the exam.

This distraction may be considered an academic offence.

Case Study 2

Martha, Robbie, Farah and John have a group assignment for an online course. After working on the project for a week, Robbie, Farah and John have a disagreement with Martha on how to finalize the assignment. After the disagreement, Robbie, Farah and John hold group meetings without informing Martha. They also do not contact Martha or respond to her attempts to communicate with the group. The three team members complete and submit the assignment on their own, without including any of the work that Martha contributed. Robbie, Farah and John tell the online instructor that Martha did not participate in the group project.

By excluding Martha from the group and her contributions from the assignment, and withholding information from Martha, Robbie, Farah and John have committed an academic offence.

Click on a term to view the definition, some examples, and relevant case studies.

Plagiarism

 
Plagiarism
 

Plagiarism, whether done deliberately or unintentionally, involves presenting all or part of someone else’s work as one’s own without properly citing the source. This applies to words, graphics, music, ideas, logic, phrases, signatures, computations and more, from all sources.

  • “Self-plagiarism” which refers to the practice of submitting the same work, in whole or in part, for credit in two or more courses, or in the same course more than once, without the prior written permission of the instructor.
  • Sharing one’s work with other learners where this has not been authorized.
Case Study 1

For one of her assignments, Katrina is required to write a personal reflection on her growth as a student. She finds a blog written by a student in another part of Canada. The personal reflection within the blog is exactly how Katrina feels about her progress. Because the reflection is so similar to how she feels, Katrina copies the blog entry. She adds an introduction and conclusion to the copied material and submits the complete work to her teacher as her own personal reflection.

For this assignment, Katrina is expected to submit her own thoughts, but instead, Katrina has copied from another source without citing or referencing. This is an academic offence.

Case Study 2

Chris has to write computer code for one of his computer science assignments. The instructor states that students must submit original work for the assignment. Chris visits the StackOverflow website, which has freely available snippets of code. A notice on the website states that all code within the site has a Creative Commons licence requiring attribution. Chris copies several snippets of code from the site and includes it as a solution to his assignment. He does not cite where he got the code because it was freely available.

For this assignment, Chris is expected to submit his own, original code, but instead, Chris has copied from another source without citing or referencing it. This is an academic offence.

Case Study 3

Amisha is in her second year of the nursing program. For one of her assignments, she has to write a research paper on interdisciplinary care in a diabetes clinic. As Amisha conducts her research, she realizes that the topic is very similar to one that she worked on in her first year. She decides to take several pages from her first semester research paper and incorporate them into her current research paper. She did not ask permission from the instructor before using her previous work.

Amisha feels it is OK to copy her own work, but this is "self-plagiarism" and is an academic offence.

Click on a term to view the definition, some examples, and relevant case studies.

Unauthorized Aid/ Assistance

 
Unauthorized Aid/ Assistance
 

Using aids, assistance or other sources of support that have not been authorized by the instructor in a testing situation or in the completion of work.

  • Communicating with someone other than the professor, proctor or exam supervisor during a test or exam.
  • Using unauthorized material or aids (e.g., cheat sheets, materials from file-sharing sites like Chegg) during an assessment, quiz, test, or exam.
  • Copying answers from another student during a test or exam.
  • Accepting answers given from another student during a test or exam, including online exams.
  • Using a phone or other device during a test or exam.
  • Using unauthorized material, aids, or software (e.g., generative artificial intelligence such as ChatGPT) during the preparation of an assignment.

According to his instructor, Ivan can use a calculator for one of his final exams. However, he is required to memorize certain business math formulas. Before the exam, Ivan writes the most important formulas on a small sheet of paper and tapes the paper to the underside of the calculator. During the exam, Ivan looks at the sheet of paper for only one question. He remembers the formulas for all the other exam questions.

Ivan has used an unauthorized aid, which is an academic offence.

Unauthorized/ Inappropriate Collaboration

 
Unauthorized/ Inappropriate Collaboration
 

When students work together or share information without specific instructions from the professor.

  • Submitting work prepared collaboratively with another person or people on an assessment that is deemed to be an individual effort.
  • Accessing or possessing unauthorized materials, information, or devices during assessments.
  • Providing other learners with questions/scenarios/simulations/other being used on assessments at any time.
  • Letting your answers be viewed by another or lending previous/ current work to a third party.
  • Submitting the same course work as one or more learners in the course, unless expressly permitted by the professor.
Case Study 1 (unintentional)

Mira has to write a short paper for one of her classes but is struggling to come up with ideas. Mira asks her friend Anna for help. Anna is taking the same course but with a different professor. Anna provides Mira with a draft version of her short paper to help Mira get some ideas on how to write her own. Mira really likes the version Anna is working on and decides to copy Anna’s work and submit it.

Even though Anna didn't intend for Mira to copy her work, she failed to keep her work secure from copying. This may be considered an academic offence.

Case Study 2 (intentional)

Chelsea has to write computer code for one of her computer science assignments. The instructor tells her class that it is OK to talk to other students about the best approaches to solving the problem, but each student must write their own code. Chelsea is struggling to get her code to work. She asks one of her classmates to look at her code and tell her where she is making her mistakes. Chelsea's classmate rewrites some of the code so that it works properly. Chelsea submits the rewritten code as her own work.

By doing so, Chelsea has intentionally collaborated with another student without permission from her instructor (and knowing the assignment was meant to be her own work). This is an academic offence.

Unauthorized Content Generation (UCG)

 
Unauthorized Content Generation (UCG)
 

The production of academic work, in whole or part, for academic credit, progression or award, whether or not a payment or other favour is involved, using unapproved or undeclared human or technological assistance.

Note: Artificial Intelligence in Education (AIED) can be used for unauthorised content generation; however, the use of AIED is not automatically unethical. There can be differences between academic disciplines, education institutions, courses, types of assessment, etc. as to what is considered acceptable use of AI and what is not. Consult with your instructor for guidelines on appropriate AIED usage for your course/ college.

  • Response generation from artificial intelligence including, but not limited to, text, image, code, or video-generating artificial intelligence tools.
  • Submitting assignments to online forums or websites for generating solutions.

Sam has a presentation due tomorrow for their sociology class that they haven't started. In a rush, they enter their topic on ChatGPT to get ideas for an outline and content for their presentation. They recall that their instructor mentioned that they don’t allow the use of any artificial intelligence tools in the course. However, they don't have a lot of time. They decide to reword some of the content generated by ChatGPT and add it to their presentation slides.

By utilizing Artificial Intelligence to complete their work, when specifically prohibited by their instructor, Sam has committed an academic offence.

Note: Always confirm with your instructor that you are permitted to use AI tools such as ChatGPT.

Unscholarly Behaviour/ Obstructing

 
Unscholarly Behaviour/ Obstructing
 

Interfering with the ability of another student to successfully complete academic work.

  • Withholding information from a team member.
  • Excluding other student(s) from a group project.
  • Intentionally missing a group presentation.
  • Not participating in a group project.
  • Giving a friend a higher grade than deserved in a peer-graded assignment.
  • Being disruptive during an exam or other assessment.
  • Altering, destroying, hiding, or otherwise restricting access to academic materials intended for general use.

Grace has a group project due at the end of Week 9. In Week 7, Grace and her group have an initial meeting to discuss the project. During this meeting each person is assigned a part of the project to complete. After that meeting, Grace does not attend other team meetings, respond to communication attempts from her teammates or attend class. At the beginning of Week 9, Grace sends an email to her team, promising to do her assigned task. The day the assignment is due, Grace writes to the team and tells them that she was too busy to complete her part of the assignment.

By not participating in the group project Grace has committed an academic offence.