Academic Integrity Module

(School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies - published with permission)


1.0 – Introduction: Academic Integrity

At Western University, we support innovative scholarship, quality teaching, and respect for ourselves, our work, and the work of our colleagues.  Academic integrity reflects and supports these principles and values, and is a cornerstone of scholarly work.  As such, it should continuously ground and inform our learning, research, writing, publishing, and teaching.

This course will help you to recognize the importance of academic integrity and to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty and scholarly offences.  It will cover the basics of academic integrity and academic dishonesty, detail specific scholastic offences, and explain the ways that Western University detects and deals with offences.  It will also present case studies for you to consider. 

Finally, this will also provide you with some additional resources that you may find useful should you have questions or concerns about academic integrity and how to ensure that you are meeting the standards of Western University.  There are many resources available to you, and you are strongly encouraged to use them if you have any questions or concerns about academic integrity.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Define academic integrity and understand its fundamental values and principles
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of what specific actions and behaviours constitute academic honesty and academic dishonesty
  3. Recognize the standards, policies, and procedures in place to maintain academic integrity at Western University
  4. Identify their roles and responsibilities in maintaining academic integrity at Western University
  5. Access additional information and resources regarding academic integrity issues and information
  6. Apply their knowledge of academic integrity to real-life scenarios by evaluating examples of acceptable and unacceptable academic behaviours and successfully completing a 10-question test

1.1 – What is Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is also sometimes referred to as academic honesty. These terms encompass behaviours that embody what the Center for Academic Integrity (CAI) describes as, "a commitment, even in the face of adversity, to five fundamental values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility" (CAI, Fundamental Values Project, 1999). At Western University, you are expected to adhere to these principles and use them to guide your work. By following high standards of academic integrity, individuals show respect for their own work, the work of others, their educational institution, and academia in general.

The opposite of academic integrity is academic dishonesty or misconduct, which happens when students engage in scholastic offences. The University of California, Berkeley defines academic misconduct as, “any action or attempted action that may result in creating an unfair academic advantage for oneself or an unfair academic advantage or disadvantage for any other member or members of the academic community. This includes a wide variety of behaviors such as cheating, plagiarism, altering academic documents or transcripts, gaining access to materials before they are intended to be available, and helping a friend to gain an unfair academic advantage” (  

In short, academic integrity helps to preserve the values associated with academic pursuits while academic dishonesty undermines the fairness, honesty, and respect that should ground academic work.

1.2 – The Importance of Academic Integrity

Academic integrity underlies rigorous academic standards. Understanding academic integrity is important for academia as a whole, as it helps to support productive learning and good scholarship. However, this is also important for you personally. In your time at Western you may take on many different roles within the academic community. Understanding academic integrity will be beneficial to you in your individual work as you engage in coursework and progress to developing your own research and writing agenda. It will also be useful in situations such as working on collaborative projects and teaching that you are likely to encounter while at Western.

1.2.1 – For academia

Maintaining academic integrity is important for academia as a whole, and should underlie all academic work. Without integrity and honesty, the quality of academic work, degrees, and institutions is lowered.

“Without academic integrity, neither the genuine innovations of the individual nor the progress of a given field of study can adequately be assessed, and the very foundation of scholarship itself is undermined. Academic integrity, for all these reasons, is an essential link in the process of intellectual advancement." (Student Judicial Services at the University of Texas -

Degree-granting institutions such as Western University rely on their reputations. A degree granted by Western is recognized and has value. It is assumed that an individual who holds a degree from Western has successfully completed their educational requirements without cheating or plagiarizing. If an individual engages in academic dishonesty, their degree is a misrepresentation of the work that they have done and the credentials that they hold.

The same ideas apply to research and publications. If the work done at an institution is based on cheating, copying, or misrepresentation, the reputation and standing of that institution may be compromised. In turn, this can compromise the reputation of the institution as well as the reputation of its students, past, present, and future. Western clearly sets out these considerations in the Academic Handbook.

“Members of the University Community accept a commitment to maintain and uphold the purposes of the University and, in particular, its standards of scholarship. It follows, therefore, that acts of a nature that prejudice the academic standards of the University are offences subject to discipline. Any form of academic dishonesty that undermines the evaluation process, also undermines the integrity of the University’s degrees. The University will take all appropriate measures to promote academic integrity and deal appropriately with scholastic offences.” (Academic Handbook, Appeals, Scholastic Discipline for Graduate Students -

By following academic integrity principles, you help to maintain the standards of your institution and academia in general.

1.2.2 – For you

On an individual level, establishing academic integrity in your work is important both for your own individual work, and also for the benefit of those with whom you may collaborate or teach.

Your work: As you progress through graduate school, maintaining highstandards of academic integrity is important. Beyond simply avoiding the consequences associated with scholastic offences, following academic integrity guidelines offers you benefits. First, it can help you to learn. If you are not doing your own work, you are less likely to learn important ideas, concepts, and approaches that will be useful to you work. At the same time, maintaining academic integrity will help you build a reputation as a conscientious scholar who is honest, fair, and trustworthy.

More generally, academic integrity helps to ensure that you receive acknowledgement for your work. You have put in time and effort to get to where you are today, and your work should receive acknowledgement if someone else uses it. These standards help to ensure that you will receive credit that is due for work that you complete. Furthermore, other people have also put a great deal of effort into their work. Their effort should be recognized through consistent and accurate recognition of their contributions. It is important to remember that as much as you deserve credit for your work, other people deserve credit for theirs.

Collaborative work: As a graduate student, it is possible that your work will involve collaboration. You may work for a faculty member or university department or faculty as a research assistant (RA).  Or, you may work on collaborative papers, co-authored journal articles, group presentations, or reports.

In these situations, academic integrity is important for protecting not only your reputation, but also the reputation of others. Any academic dishonesty will reflect poorly on all members of a group, even if only the result of one person’s behaviour. Understanding academic integrity and how to maintain it is therefore not only important for your own work, but also work that is attributed to and will have an impact on other people.

Teaching: In your time at Western, it is also possible that you will work as a teaching assistant (TA). You may even have the opportunity to teach your own courses. Whether you are working in a classroom or lab or grading assignments, one part of your role will be to ensure that your students also follow academic integrity guidelines. This means that you will need to be aware of behaviours that are considered to be academically dishonest in order to recognize and address them in the work of your students.

Furthermore, when you teach you are also responsible for making sure that any materials used in your tutorials, labs, or courses are also properly attributed. Understanding the basics of academic integrity will also assist you in ensuring that your courses follow these standards. This is important for ensuring that the work of others is acknowledged, and also for modeling good practices for your students.

1.3 – Facts and figures

Maintaining academic integrity is an increasing problem in many Canadian universities. Research indicates that plagiarism levels are on the rise and are fairly high at many western academic institutions. For instance, a 2006 study from New Zealand indicates that 72 percent of students admitted to having plagiarized at some point in their lives (Marshall & Garry, 2006).

The Pew Research Centre has released a recent study that indicates that plagiarism has been on the rise over the last decade (Parker, Lenhart, & Moore, 2011). Another study suggests that when plagiarism limits are set at three percent of a paper (about 30 words in a row), about 72 percent of the test group plagiarized (Martin, 2012). These studies suggest that plagiarism is a growing problem that needs to be addressed.

Furthermore, research also indicates that many students are unable to recognize what exactly constitutes a scholastic offence, such as plagiarism (Marshall & Garry, 2006). Without knowing what a scholastic offence is and how to avoid it, it is difficult for students to avoid these errors. To help inform you about the nature of scholastic offences, this course will detail many different kinds of offences, present case studies to elaborate these ideas in context, and then confirm your understanding of these ideas through a final test.

Parker, K., Lenhart, A., & Moore, K. (2011). The digital revolution and higher education: College presidents, public differ on value of online learning.

Martin, D.E. (2012). Culture and Unethical Conduct: Understanding the impact of individualism and collectivism on actual plagiarism. Management Learning, 43(3).

Marshall, S. & Garry, M.  (2006). NESB and ESB students’ attitudes and perceptions of plagiarism. International Journal for Educational Integrity, 2(1).

1.4 – Reasons for academic dishonesty

Why do people engage in practices that are academically dishonest? This is a good question, and one that has a lot of different answers.

The short answer is that there are many reasons why people violate academic integrity. You may hear excuses – or perhaps have even heard some of them already – such as the following:

“I didn’t have enough time to do it all on my own.”

“I paraphrased everything into my own words.”

“In my culture, using someone else’s words is a sign of respect.”

“I wrote it all myself. I just submitted it for two classes.”

“That author said it better than I could.”

“I really, really needed a good grade on this to keep my average up.”

“My friend (my parent, my partner…) just edited it, but they’re all my ideas.”

“I didn’t know that this counted as a scholastic offence.”

While some of these excuses may appear to be reasonable, they will not undo or explain away a scholastic offence. Academic integrity is taken very seriously at Western, and scholastic offences are reported and dealt with accordingly. Not knowing what a scholastic offence is or being ignorant of the different kinds of offences is not an excuse. It is therefore best to know how to recognize them and how to avoid them, rather than trying to make excuses after the fact.

It is worth noting that there are two generally recognized kinds of academic dishonestly: intentional and unintentional.

Intentional: Sometimes actions that violate academic integrity are intentional. Some people may feel confused or overwhelmed in grad school. Using someone else’s work can seem like an easy way to make up for poor time management skills, difficult assignments, or not fully understanding elements of the assignment, materials, or language.

Unintentional: In other cases, these violations are not intentional. They happen by accident or because the individual does not know what constitutes a violation of academic integrity. There are many different things that can be considered offences, and some are better known than others.

It is important to note that whether scholarly offences are intentional or unintentional, both have consequences. These sanctions can have a significant effect on an individual’s academic standing and reputation, both at Western and throughout their academic career. Once again, not knowing or understanding academic integrity guidelines is not an excuse for committing a scholastic offence.

1.5 – Academic Integrity in Canada

Some research suggests that cultural differences can play a role in academic integrity. For instance, in many cultures the idea of ownership of words and ideas is not as pronounced as it is in Canada, and using the ideas and words of someone else is considered to be a sign of respect (Buranen 1999). However, these are not norms that are followed in Canada, and using someone else’s work without proper attribution is a serious academic issue.

If you are an international student, it is important that you be aware of what constitutes academic integrity within a Canadian institution. Offences vary between country and cultures. What constitutes an offence in Canada may be very different from where you were raised or places you have studied. While you are completing graduate work in Canada, you should follow the guidelines for academic integrity set out by Western, which is closely aligned with principles followed in other institutions in Ontario and throughout Canada.

Buranen, L. (1999). But I wasn't cheating. In L. Buranen & A. Roy (Eds.) Perspectives on plagiarism and intellectual property in a postmodern world. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press: 63­74.

1.6 – Western's Policies

Western has many policies related to many facets of academic integrity.  Full versions of these policies can be found through the following online resources:

Handbook of Academic Scholarship & Policy (

Administrative Policies and Procedures (

Office of the Ombudsperson (

Internet Technology Services (


2.0 – Scholastic Offences

Academic dishonesty occurs as a result of scholastic offences, which are a serious issue. Western University is working to prevent and detect scholastic offences in a variety of ways. You are an important part of this process both in terms of conducting your own work in a way that reflects academic integrity, and in terms of identifying and reporting instances of scholastic offences that come to your attention.

As a graduate student at Western, you are expected to know and understand what academic dishonesty entails, and to not engage in scholastic offences. To help you become more familiar with these ideas, this section sets out different forms of academic dishonesty and explains what they entail and how they can be avoided.

2.1 – Cheating

Academic integrity means that individuals complete and are evaluated on the merits of their own work. They should not engage in unethical conduct that will offer them an advantage over other students.   Cheating is one threat to academic integrity, and is defined by Western University’s Office of the Ombudsperson ( as, “dishonest behaviour intended to gain academic advantage” (Cheating, Plagiarism and Unauthorized Collaboration: What Students Need to Know, Cheating is a broad category that can encompass different forms of academic dishonesty. For instance, plagiarism is often considered a form of cheating, as is document fraud. Both of these offences will be discussed later in greater detail.

It is important to remember that it is possible to be implicated for cheating, but also for deliberately helping someone else to cheat. Furthermore, not reporting cheating is also a form of academic dishonesty. Western’s Academic Handbook makes clear that, “Aiding or abetting any such offence” also constitutes a scholastic offence of its own ( If you witness or know about an act of cheating, you are expected to report it.

2.1.1– Forms of cheating

Although it is a broad concept, the term cheating is most often associated with more formal academic exercises, such as tests or exams. Given the restrictions usually placed on such assessments, cheating usually entails gaining an unfair advantage in terms of answering a series of pre-set evaluation questions.

Some forms of cheating include:

Copying: This involves copying the answers or work of another student. Although this can be done with assistance (see “providing answers” below), it can also happen without another student’s knowledge. To avoid being perceived as copying, it is best to keep your eyes on your own work as much as possible.

If you suspect that someone is attempting to copy your work in a test or exam situation, it is your responsibility to conceal your work as best you can. Any suspected cheating should also be reported to the instructor or proctor so it can be properly investigated.

Providing answers: Providing answers to another student can be done during a test or exam. If you provide answers to someone else during an evaluation – for instance, by showing your answer sheet, passing a note, or signaling – you are complicit in cheating. Providing answers can also be done ahead of time by taking a cheat sheet into an exam, for example. This is also a serious form of academic dishonesty that will result in penalties.

Exam or test possession: Unless they were intentionally provided by the instructor, having access to questions in advance of a test or exam is a scholastic offence. Any unethical access to test or exam questions prior to the evaluation should be reported to the course instructor.

Impersonation: This entails one individual posing as another in order to complete an evaluation such as an exam, quiz, paper, or online or take-home test. For instance, asking a friend who took the same course last year and did well on it to write an exam for you is impersonation, as is asking them to complete an online quiz in your name. As with other cases, both parties engaged in an impersonation would be guilty of committing an academic offence. You are at fault whether you are the one having someone impersonate you, or whether you are the one doing the impersonating.

2.2 – Plagiarism

Plagiarism is considered to be a subset of cheating, although it is the form of scholarastic offence that is most likely to be seen in graduate school. It is defined in Western’s Handbook of Academic Scholarship & Policy ( as the, “’act or an instance of copying or stealing another’s words or ideas and attributing them as one’s own’ (Excerpted from Black’s Law Dictionary, West Group, 1999, 7th ed., p. 1170)”.  Unethically using work produced by someone else is a very serious academic offence.

These principles extend to all academic work completed at Western University. This includes course assignments, projects, presentations, lectures, theses, dissertations, comprehensive examinations, laboratory reports, diagrams, and computer projects. In essence, all academic work must be the original work of the student and must use proper attribution to recognize the work of other individuals.

2.2.1 – Forms of plagiarism

The definition of plagiarism is fairly simple, but there are many different ways that plagiarism can occur, some of which you may never have considered to be an issue. It is important that you be aware of these different forms in order to be able to identify and avoid them.

It is also important to remember that, as with cheating, it is possible to be implicated in a scholastic offence by helping someone else to plagiarize. Knowingly helping someone else – for instance, by giving them a laboratory report to copy, or helping them to rewrite an assignment – is likely to carry the same penalties for the individual who is helping as for the person who is plagiarizing.

Plagiarism falls into four general categories, most of which also include a number of specific areas of concern.

1. Using others’ work

Borrowing: Using whole works or large sections of works created by other individuals and representing it as your own is an act of plagiarism.   Modifying parts of the work – such as replacing the introduction or conclusion, or adding extra functionality to computer code – does not constitute original work, and therefore counts as academic dishonesty. Even if you have the permission of the person who did the work – for instance, a friend who says you can submit a paper they wrote for a different class – submitting work that is not your own is a serious scholastic offence.

Cyber-plagiarism: Cyber-plagiarism isvery similar to borrowing. Plagiarizing the work of others has become easier in the age of the Internet. Although it has greatly facilitated access to information, it has also made it easier for individuals to access and use the work of others in inappropriate ways. Cyber-plagiarism is defined by the University of Alberta as, “copying or downloading in part, or in their entirety, articles or research papers found on the Internet or copying ideas found on the Web and not giving proper attribution” ( Borrowing ideas or text from online sources constitutes plagiarism when not appropriately attributed.

Purchasing: As with borrowing, paying for someone else to complete your assignment and then claiming it as your own is plagiarism. There are many online sites – usually referred to as “paper mills” – that offer this “service”. Using any of them constitutes a scholarly offence.

Ghostwriting: Having someone else write or even heavily edit your work can be a form of plagiarism. Submitting work that was written by another student as your own is using the words and ideas of someone else without giving them credit. Furthermore, although basic copy-editing is acceptable, if someone else edits your work and makes significant changes to wording or clarifies points, this can also be a form of plagiarism.

2. Improper citations and referencing

Unattributed sources: In your academic work, it is acceptable to use ideas, quotes, and other materials produced by other individuals, so long as they are properly attributed. All work that is not your own must be appropriately cited, even if it is not academic in nature. This includes things like figures, images, charts, graphs, music, films, newspapers, magazines, and webpages. Direct quotes must be clearly indicated with quotation marks, a citation, and a reference. Ideas that are paraphrased must also be appropriately indicated by a citation and reference. The ways of doing this vary between disciplines, so you may wish to check with your faculty about the correct way of doing this in your work.

Improper quotation or paraphrasing: Although it is acceptable to use quotes or paraphrase the ideas of others in your work, this should be done with care. Failing to retain the text of a quote of the meaning of a concept or idea is a scholastic offence, as is paraphrasing in ways that are too similar to the original. Quotes must be accurately copied so that they match the original text. Paraphrased ideas must use different words and sentence structure from the original, and must not misrepresent the meaning of the original text. All paraphrased sections must be cited accurately, giving proper attribution to the original author.

Missing sources: Failing to include sources that were used in academic work means that the work of others has not been properly recognized. Every quote, idea, or contribution from another individual must be both properly cited and referenced. Including only the citation or the reference does not offer complete enough information to properly credit the original source, or to allow others to find and access that material.

Extra sources: The citations and references in a piece of work should include only those sources that were used in completing that work, and no more. Including extra sources, either by accident or to intentionally meet the requirements of an assignment, is a misrepresentation of your work.

Improper sources: All sources cited and referenced in academic work must be complete and accurate. Failing to include accurate or complete sources means that others may not be able to determine or locate the work that you have used. This does not constitute proper attribution of the contributions of others, and is therefore a scholastic offence.

3. Inappropriate Collaboration

Collusion: Unless an instructor has specifically given permission for an assignment to be worked on collaboratively, working with others on an assignment is a scholastic offence. Similarly, if two people work collaboratively on an assignment, if one (or both) claims that work as wholly their own without acknowledging the other, they are committing a scholarly offence.

Unequal collaboration: This occurs when working in a group, and usually involves one or more students doing more or less work than others. If all members put their names on an assignment that has been completed through unequal levels of work or participation, this is also a form of collusion.

4. Self-plagiarism

Recycling assignments: Unless the instructor has granted express permission, all work that is submitted to fulfill course requirements must be your own original work. Using a paper that was originally written for one course to fulfill the requirements for another is a form of plagiarism.

Recycling articles: These same considerations also apply to academic publishing. When you publish academic work, the copyright will often become the property of the journal with which you have published. If you wish to use parts of this work again, it is usually  necessary to contact the journal and ask for permission.

2.3 – Document Fraud

Document fraud consists of falsifying any documents that offer an individual an advantage. Western University’s Academic Handbook ( sets out two forms of document fraud: academic and medical. The university considers both to be significant academic offences.

Fraudulent academic documents: Submitting false academic documents is a misrepresentation of your work or credentials. This can include claiming research, assignments, and credentials that are not your work or that have not been earned. It can also include attempting to increase your standing by falsifying records or transcripts.

Fraudulent medical documents: At Western, medical certificates are used to validate claims of illness and are regularly used in granting extensions for things like missed assignments or exams, or requesting a leave of absence from the university. Misrepresenting an illness, submitting a false medical certificate, or altering a legitimate medical certificate are all forms of document fraud.

2.4 – Other Scholastic Offences

Falsification: Also referred to as fabrication, this is the invention or creation of academic materials or information. Falsification may take the form of research materials, such as forging or faking research or experimental data and results. It also includes the invention of sources, quotes, and references that do not actually exist.

Bribery: Attempting to influence someone else by offering them goods, services, or money in exchange for extra help or consideration – such as an extension, a higher grade on an assignment, or extra information about tests or exams – is an academic offence.

Sabotage: Sabotage is any action that hinders or undermines the academic performance of another individual. This can include behaviours like disrupting an experiment, altering data or computer code, harming or destroying equipment, or hiding important academic materials like books or articles so that others cannot access them.

3 - Detection and Consequences

3.0 – Dealing with Academic Dishonesty

In order to assure academic integrity, instances of academic dishonesty are routinely dealt with at Western. Although reducing academic dishonesty through awareness and knowledge is the preferred approach to managing this problem, detecting and penalizing offences is a tactic that is also actively employed. Reported offences will be investigated and dealt with either by the student’s home faculty, or by the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. How an offence is handled depends on the type and severity of the offence, as well as any prior history of academic dishonesty.

3.1 – Detecting Scholastic Offences

Given the many concerns around academic integrity, Western University is committed to detecting scholastic offences. Instructors have access to a range of effective tools and techniques to prevent and detect plagiarism and cheating.

Education and Awareness: Faculty members are often adept at detecting plagiarism. They are very familiar with their subject areas and are well read in terms of the associated bodies of literature and research. Borrowing ideas, text, facts, figures, or images from other relevant work is likely to be easy to identify by a course instructor, researcher, or supervisor based on their detailed knowledge of the field.

Over the course of a semester instructors will also learn the capabilities of their individual students. Marked derivations from a student’s usual areas of interest, theoretical understanding, research approaches, writing style, or other academic capacities may signal that a scholastic offence has taken place and should be investigated further.

Finally, the Internet has greatly facilitated the identification and verification of cheating and plagiarism. Sophisticated search engines make it easy to find not only direct quotes, but also phrases or ideas that have been altered. Therefore, even simple searches can be quickly and easily used to locate original sources that have been plagiarized. Western University uses, which is plagiarism checking software. This program compares submitted papers with a database of academic materials, including assignments previously submitted to in order to detect plagiarism. This program is therefore capable of detecting plagiarism involving multiple students in the same class, borrowing from other academic sources, or borrowing from sources found on the Internet. In your courses, you may be required to submit your assignments to to verify their originality.

Scan Exam II: Western also uses a program called Scan Exam II. This program processes the scantron forms that are used in multiple choice exams and uses “Answer Choice Match Analysis”.   This function compares the expected number of matching answers between two exams to the actual number. If the actual exceeds the expected number, the program will alert the instructor to the possibility of cheating. This is not considered to be proof of cheating, however it is a flag that the instructor can then investigate further.

3.2 – Reporting Scholastic Offences

In addition to following the guidelines in their own work and any collaborative projects in which they engage, Western students also bear a responsibility for helping to assure academic integrity in the work of others. As a university community, we are all responsible for ensuring that Western maintains the highest standards of academic integrity and is an academic institution that is worthy of its reputation for scholastic and teaching excellence.

With regards to scholastic offences, Western’s Academic Calendar ( explains that “aiding or abetting any such offence” is also considered to be a form of academic dishonesty.  Students are required to report any concerns around behaviours that violate academic integrity. If concerns arise from a course, they should be reported directly to the course instructor. For scholastic offences that are not related to a course, any concerns should be referred to the Dean or Associate Dean of the student’s home faculty.

3.3 – Consequences

There are different consequences associated with academic dishonesty. Western’s Handbook of Academic and Scholarship Policy sets out examples of penalties that may be given to graduate students who commit scholarly offences. Penalties may be applied with respect to the assignment itself, or to the student’s standing in the course, department, faculty, or university.

Penalties may include:

  1. Reprimand.
  2. Requirement that the student repeat and resubmit the assignment.
  3. A failing grade in the assignment.
  4. A failing grade in the course in which the offence was committed.
  5. Withdrawal from the program.
  6. Suspension from the University for up to three academic years or for a portion of one academic year including the academic session in which the student is currently registered.
  7. Expulsion from the University.

(taken from

These penalties may be given individually, or in combination. Those administering the penalty will take into account the nature and severity of the offence. They will also consider whether a given offence if a student’s first or if there have been other offences, which could reveal a problematic pattern of behaviour necessitating heavier penalties. The Graduate Chair of the student’s home department or faculty may administer the first four penalties listed above. Penalties five through seven can only be given by a Vice-Provost in the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

3.4 – Additional Resources

As you can tell, these are serious offences with serious consequences. It is therefore in your best interests to ensure that you are not engaging in academic practices that are considered to be scholastic offences. If you have any additional questions about academic integrity, there are many resources available to you to help deal with any concerns before they become a problem.

People: If you have any questions about academic integrity, you are encouraged to talk to your course instructors or graduate chair. Asking questions about particular concerns is the best way to have your specific questions answered in a clear and helpful way.

Teaching Support Centre: The Teaching Support Centre (TSC) has many resources to help you avoid scholastic issues and deal with any you may encounter with your students if you are a teaching assistant or a course instructor. They also offer occasional workshops on this issue, which are both informative and will help you to recognize and deal with scholastic offences among your own students. Please check the TSC calendar regularly to see if the workshop you need is available, or when it is running.

Reference and Citation Information: Western’s libraries provide specific information around proper citation and referencing. Styles vary between disciplines and faculties, but guides to many major styles guides can be found through the library. These guides will help you to determine how to use appropriate citations and references. The library also offers research information and referencing tools that can help you with your work. And, if in doubt about maintaining academic integrity, you can always talk to your subject librarian for help and advice.

Online Academic Integrity Sites: There are also additional websites focused on promoting academic integrity. You may find their information and ideas helpful in your own work.

Other University Sites: Other universities also offer information, tutorials, and tests for addressing academic integrity issues. I you would like to look at additional approaches to academic integrity, or to familiarize yourself with their policies, you may find these university sites especially useful.

4 - Case Studies

4.0 – Case Studies Introduction

This section will help you to start putting the information from the last three sections into practice. These case studies describe a situation you might encounter or a selection of work that you might have to complete in your academic life. They then set out a number of responses that you might have or approaches that you might take. Your job is to determine which responses demonstrate academic integrity. This is also good practice for the test in section five. Please remember that to pass the test, you must answer all ten questions correctly.

One thing that you will notice is that in these cases, there are a lot of possible responses. In any given situation there are many ways that you might react to what’s happening around you. While some of your initial inclinations about how to respond may represent the best actions to take in terms of academic integrity, others might not. These case studies are intended to get you thinking about these different options and aware of the behaviours that will help you to act appropriately and with academic integrity.

It’s also worth noting that some of the responses to these cases are in what might be considered  grey areas. There are some instances where violating academic integrity might feel like the correct or moral action. For instance, helping someone who is struggling in a course to write a better paper feels like the right thing to do, but can be problematic in terms of issues like collusion and plagiarism. In other cases, there are situations where maintaining academic integrity might feel very difficult, such as reporting a friend who you know has been cheating. These cases will also help you to consider different responses not just in terms of your own immediate feelings, but also in terms of what is expected of you as a member of Western’s academic community.

4.1 – Case Study #1

You are taking a class where part of the evaluation is based on a group report. Your group consists of four people. The report starts well, with a lot of great ideas and input. But a few days before it is due, you learn that two group members have not been doing nearly as much work on the project as you have. They have some materials prepared, but not enough to meet the page requirement. Furthermore, you notice that their work is very sloppy, and that they clearly have not put a lot of time into the project. When you ask them about it, they say that they are busy, and that this is the best that they can do.

How do you respond? Which responses demonstrate academic integrity, and which ones don’t?

Q – You intentionally withhold all of your parts of the report until everyone has completed and submitted the work that they promised they would do. This means that everyone will get a lower grade because of the late penalty, but you think that it’s the only fair thing to do, and you’re doing well enough in the course that a few lost points won’t matter too much in the end. Does this response demonstrate academic integrity?

A – While those who have not done the work should not receive the same credit as those who have, taking matters into your own hands and withholding an important part of a collaborative project unnecessarily hurts the other members of your group, and especially those who have also put in the time and effort that was expected. Because this action will cause harm to others, it would be considered academic sabotage.

Q – You’ve done well in all of your classes so far this semester, and you want to do well on this report, too. Rather than relying on the work of the other two students who aren’t working very hard, you and the other concerned group member complete the work that they haven’t yet done and rewrite the materials that they’ve already worked on. You don’t have a lot of time, though, so you make up some results that fit with the rest of the report and what you think the data should look like. When the report is finished, you submit it with all of the group members’ names on it – you don’t care that the others didn’t help very much, so long as you get the mark you deserve. Does this response demonstrate academic integrity?

A – In this case, you’re likely to get in trouble for at least two scholastic offences. First, putting the names of all participants on work that was not equally shared is unequal collaboration. Second, creating data out of nowhere – even if you’re absolutely certain that it would be right, had you actually done the work – is falsification, which is another serious academic offence. Finally, by including the names of those who didn’t participate on a report with falsified information, you might also get them into trouble for something that they were not involved in (except for not doing the original work that they should have, of course).

Q – You’re concerned about your grade for this course because you need to do well to keep your scholarship. Because the other members of the group did some of the work, the remaining group members agree to submit the work as it is with everyone’s name on it, even though they did more work. Their parts aren’t as important as the sections you were working on, so you’re pretty sure that the grade will be fine. Does this response demonstrate academic integrity?

A – Even if all group members did some work on a group project, putting all of the group member’s names on the final product implies that the work was shared equally, and is representative of equal effort. If there is a disparity in the amount of work that each group member completed, this kind of behaviour is still considered to be unequal collaboration, and is a scholastic offence.

Q – You don’t like the thought of everyone getting the same grade when some members have put in more work than others, and you want to be sure that everything is submitted when it should be, and that you get the grade that you deserve. You intend to submit the project, but first you talk to the course instructor.
You make clear that some students have been not doing their share of the work and explain the concerns that you have. Does this response demonstrate academic integrity?

A – Although it may seem unkind to get other students in trouble, especially when you could easily give them credit, this is the right thing to do. Failing to accurately represent the contributions of each member is a scholastic offence. So too is aiding or abetting a scholastic offence, which you are doing if you let other students take equal credit for work that is not equally completed. Also, it’s worth noting that if you’re concerned about your own standing in terms of an evaluation in a situation like this, most instructors will have appropriate ways to deal with a group assignment in which some sections were completed while others were not.

4.2 – Case Study #2

You are taking a full course load in addition to working as a research assistant (RA) for the professor who is teaching one of your courses. You find this particular course very challenging, especially given that you have a lot of other work to do for your other classes and for the RA job. For this class, you have a final paper due very soon that is worth a large percentage of your final grade, and you need to find a way to make sure that all of your work is done well and on time.

How do you respond? Which responses demonstrate academic integrity, and which ones don’t?

Q – Because you know this instructor through your RA work, you approach him/herto talk about what you can do to make sure you can finish everything that you need to do. In exchange for some extra help over the course of the semester (and an incomplete, if you need it), you offer to spend some extra time working for this professor in the summer, when the course is over and you have more time. It’s in the instructor’s best interest, since they’ll get some extra RA work from you, and you’ll be more able to keep up with your current responsibilities because of the reduced pressure from this class. Does this response demonstrate academic integrity?

A – Offering any incentive – even if it’s not money – is considered to be bribery. By offering an instructor something beneficial to them in exchange for special treatment, you are committing an academic offence. In this case, you are offering a service that they otherwise would not likely receive from you. While receiving special consideration is not necessarily a scholastic offence in and of itself, soliciting it through any form of bribery is.

Q – You’ve talked with the instructor, and s/he can’t offer you an extension or an incomplete in the course, so you’re going to have to finish the work and try to get it in on time. You find a few papers in the area that you’re looking at that offer relevant and useful framework through which to study your area of interest.  This will save you a lot of time, since you won’t have to develop your own framework to work with. You use their frameworks, cite and reference the original authors, and add in your own materials that are relevant to the course. You finish on time, and submit the paper. Does this response demonstrate academic integrity?

A – Yes, you have acted with academic integrity. So long as you credit the original authors with the frameworks that they have developed and use them to inform your own original work, you are acting with academic integrity.   Many scholars use the ideas of others to guide their work and to act as a guide for studying different things than were studied in the original work. In fact, this can be a useful approach to seeing how a theory, hypothesis, or framework works in different situations. However, using these ideas without credit would be a scholarly offence.

Q – You work hard and get your paper finished, but it doesn’t quite meet your usual standards. You ask a friend to edit your final paper for the course because he’s very familiar with the material. He makes some changes and clarifies a number of your points - they still sound like your ideas, but better and clearer. He also suggests some restructuring to improve the flow, and addressing a few possible counterarguments. You make all of your friend’s suggestions, and then hand in the paper. Does this response demonstrate academic integrity?

A – If someone else makes significant changes to your work,especially in terms of things like changing major ideas or a paper’s structure, this is a form of academic dishonesty. The work is no longer wholly representative of you ideas and effort. This is especially true when taking an academic course, as all work is supposed to be original and your own.

Q – Because of all your work, you’re not feeling well and go see a doctor. You explain that you’ve been working hard, not sleeping enough or eating well, and you’re worried a lot. The doctor examines you, runs a blood test, and discovers that you actually have a viral infection. Although it’s not serious, shewrites you a medical certificate documenting your illness. You submit the form and ask for an extension. Does this response demonstrate academic integrity?

A – As long as your claim to illness is legitimate, using medical documentation to get an extension on an assignment is acceptable. However, it is important to keep in mind that faking or lying about an illness in order to receive medical documentation is a form of document fraud.

4.3 – Case Study #3

You are writing a paper for one of your sociology classes, and want to use information from following excerpt from an article:

“The earliest questions about elites center around rule. In the history of the written word there has been an almost overwhelming consensus that a small group should rule the larger society. We might call that small group the elite. Yet with the advent of modernity, a two-pronged process began to unsettle this view, heralding a new era of how we understand the elite, the distribution of power within a society, and the importance of equality. On the one hand, social contract theory and a kind of Lockean liberalism presented a vision of the moral equivalency of humans, with some currents even suggesting a superiority of the rights of the ruled over those of the rulers. Rule was by consent, not right, and thereby conditional on the will of the many rather than the power of the few. On the other hand, social differentiation—or the division of labor— undermined the consolidation of power within a singular concentrated elite and resulted in the growth of multiple or various elites who began to rely upon somewhat distinct resources as the basis of their social power.”

Source: Khan, Shamus Rahman. (2012). The Sociology of Elites. Annual Review of Sociology, 38, 361-377.

Below are a few different ways you could include the information in your paper. Which examples demonstrate appropriate attribution of the materials? How can you use this information in a way that demonstrates academic integrity?

Writing Sample 1:

In history, there have been different ways of looking at elites. Traditionally, there has been significant agreement that a small number of people should rule everyone else, but now some theorists have offered a view of the moral equality of humans, while social factors have caused the growth of many different elites (Kahn, 2012).

Does this example demonstrate academic integrity?

This example does not demonstrate academic integrity. Although the original source is referenced, if you look closely you will see that it is paraphrased far too closely to the original. The sentence structures are largely the same with only a few words changed to synonyms (see below). If you do paraphrase someone else’s work, the paraphrased ideas and phrases must be different from the original to demonstrate your understanding of the ideas and that the phrasing is your own work.

Original: “overwhelming consensus that a small group should rule the larger society”
Paraphrase: “significant agreement that a small number of people should rule everyone else”

Original: “presented a vision of the moral equivalency of humans”
Paraphrase: “offered a view of the moral equality of humans”

Original: “resulted in the growth of multiple or various elites”
Paraphrase: “caused the growth of many different elites”

Writing Sample 2:

In the article “The Sociology of Elites,” Kahn suggests that, “In the history of the written word there has been an almost overwhelming consensus that a small group should rule the larger society” (2012, 363). However, he also goes on to explain that modernity has disrupted this traditional form of social organization in two ways: through asserting the equality of human beings and by creating more than one group of elites.

Does this example demonstrate academic integrity?

Yes, this example demonstrates academic integrity. It quotes from Kahn’s work in an appropriate way, and offers a citation to direct the reader to the correct reference. Furthermore, it paraphrases the author’s ideas in a way that does not rely heavily on the original text for wording or sentence structure. In doing so, it also makes clear that the paraphrased ideas are those from Khan by indicating that, “he goes on to explain.”

Writing Sample 3:

Due to social stratification, there has long been debate over the role of elites in society. According to Kahn, despite recent changes created as a result of modernity, the most preferable scenario is that a small group of people in a society should have dominance and power over everyone else (2012).

Does this example demonstrate academic integrity?

Despite the inclusion of a citation, this example does not demonstrate academic integrity. When paraphrasing ideas, it is crucial that they be an accurate representation of what the original author or authors have said in their work. In this case, Kahn is indicating a historical precedent by saying that, traditionally, larger groups of people have been ruled by smaller groups, who we think of as the elite. However, nowhere does Khan suggest that this is the most preferable scenario, only the one that has typically been agreed upon. Ascribing an idea to an author that they themselves do not directly express – in this case, that the older example of what constitutes the elite is somehow preferable – is not an acceptable way to use someone else’s ideas.

Writing Sample 4:

When considering the role of elites in society, it is important to consider the historical progression of this concept, and the way it has changed over time. For instance, earlier conceptions of the elite are focused largely on relatively few people ruling the many, although this idea is largely disrupted by the focus on equality and the rise of multiple elite groups as a result of modernity (Khan, 2012).

Does this example demonstrate academic integrity?

Because this example accurately paraphrases Khan’s ideas in the author’s own words, it does demonstrate academic integrity. Even though Khan is not directly quoted, the ideas and claims are acknowledged as his. The citation makes clear that his ideas are being used, and refers to the full reference information for his article. With this information, the reader is able to understand that the information is paraphrased in addition to where it has come from and how the original source can be located.