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Ethics of Research (Integrity of Researchers)

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Research Integrity

‘Research integrity’ refers to high quality and robust practice across the full research process ie the planning and conduct of research, the recording and reporting of results, and the dissemination, application and exploitation of findings.

The University expects the highest standards in the conduct of all research undertaken in its name and on its premises using its facilities. This includes research undertaken by staff, students, visiting or emeritus staff, associates, honorary or clinical contract holders, contractors and consultants. In this, the University recognises its obligations to the wider research community, to the funders of research and to society as a whole to uphold the integrity of academic research, and to comply with the UUK Concordat to support research integrity (2019).

Key University policies

The Research Code of Practice provides guiding principles and standards of good practice in research across all subject disciplines and fields of study in the University.

The Code of Practice for the Investigation of Research Misconduct sets out a definition of research misconduct and the procedure for reporting and dealing with allegations.

University Statement on the Ethical Conduct of Research sets out the University's commitment to advancing and safeguarding the highest academic and ethical standards in all its research activities.

In order to support the community’s understanding of the principles and practices that protect the integrity of research, the University provides free-at-the-point-of-use access to a dedicated online Research Integrity Training Programme - Epigeum, accessed below:

Online Research Integrity Training Programme, EpigeumLink opens in a new window

The University has mandated the completion of Research Integrity training for all staff and students delivering research and has recently approved a Research Integrity training policy:

Further useful links can be found on the university pages at Research Integrity (


The University of Warwick defines plagiarism as 'presenting someone else's work or ideas as the student's own' (Regulation 11 - see the bottom of this page for links to this and other resources).

The reproduction of work includes the following:

  • copying, ie. repeating phrases or sentences word-for-word
  • modifying, ie. closely paraphrasing another's work by simply changing a few words or altering the order of presentation
  • borrowing, ie. presenting another person’s ideas or concepts as your own, even if you do so in your own words

Improper acknowledgement includes the failure to:

  • put quote-marks around text that has been quoted verbatim from another source, even if you have cited the source in a footnote or in the bibliography
  • cite the source of quoted text, even if you have put the text in quote-marks
  • cite the source of text that you have closely paraphrased from another source
  • cite the source of ideas or concepts that you have borrowed from another source

Academic Misconduct and Academic Integrity

Plagiarism is one kind of academic misconduct. Other kinds of academic misconduct include, but are not limited to:

  • Contract Cheating. You may not purchase or ask another person to complete your dissertation or thesis. Always acknowledge any third party assistance (beyond that of your supervisor), for example with proof reading or providing references. If you are unclear whether any third party assistance is acceptable please discuss with your academic or personal tutor in advance of submitting the piece of work.
  • Collusion. If you allow another student to copy some or all of your work, even if you consider this is helping them, you may be considered to have cheated alongside the student who copied the work. Whilst the Department encourages students to work together and read each other’s work, all work submitted should be the student’s own.
  • Deliberate attempts to mask plagiarism. The Department may ask for work to be presented in other formats if it suspects students are deliberately trying to mask one of the forms of plagiarism identified above.

Academic Misconduct vs. Poor Academic Practice

Warwick University distinguishes between academic misconduct and poor academic practice. Academic misconduct is defined as follows:

Academic misconduct are acts or omissions by a student which give or have the potential to give an unfair advantage in an examination or assessment, or might assist someone else to gain an unfair advantage, or an activity likely to undermine the integrity essential to scholarship and research. (Regulation 11)

Academic misconduct requires the intention to obtain an unfair advantage, or knowingly engaging in a behaviour that has the potential to give an unfair advantage, irrespective of whether such advantage is actually obtained. (Regulation 11)

Poor academic practice is less serious than academic misconduct, but should be avoided nonetheless:

Poor academic practice is the failure to observe principles of academic integrity. It typically (but not exclusively) occurs when referencing is inadequate, but not in a way suggesting that the student attempted to gain an unfair advantage. (Regulation 11)

Poor academic practice should be used where the extent of plagiarism or other misconduct is limited. It can be used in particular at earlier stages of a student’s degree, when they might only have an imperfect understanding of the principles of academic integrity. It can be found, e.g., where a student has referenced the material used but not indicated that it is a verbatim quote. (Guidance on Regulation 11)

Artificial Intelligence and Academic Misconduct

Artificial Intelligence (AI), particularly AI-based generative language tools such as ChatGPT, has had a lot of media attention in recent months. The University recognises that AI is here to stay and may be relevant in your completing of assessments. This guidance will help you to understand when it is appropriate (or not) to use AI.

Non-generative AI tools, such as spelling-checkers or basic grammar-checkers, have been widely used for many years. For instance, Microsoft Word telling you that you have misspelled a word is not going to lead to accusations that you have used AI tools inappropriately!

However, AI-based generative language tools (e.g., ChatGPT), are different from non-generative tools. Generative AI tools are trained to produce a human-like response from pre-existing large data sets (e.g., websites, journals, textbooks, etc.), by responding to requests to generate an outcome which is not necessarily correct, despite often sounding authoritative.

We know that this can be confusing, and you may be unsure what it means for you. A good simple rule to follow is that you MUST NOT use generative AI tools (e.g., ChatGPT) to create content which is presented as your own work. You MAY use non-generative tools, such as a spelling-checker or basic grammar-checker. The most important thing to remember is that you must be able to demonstrate intellectual ownership of your work. If you have further questions, you can speak with your Personal Tutor or Year Director.

Generative AI tools undoubtedly possess great potential, but they must be treated with caution as there are various issues and dangers with using them. For example, these are some illuminating examples of the possible dangers of using AI for research: Ned Benton, ‘Artificial Intelligence and Slavery Research’. Also, AI has a tendency to simply invent things but present them as fact – such as these 4 different world record holders for apparently crossing the English Channel entirely on foot…!

The inappropriate use of AI technology may constitute a breach of University policy, such as the Proofreading Policy or Regulation 11 (Academic Integrity). If you breach these policies, it may have significant consequences for your studies.

The History department’s current position is that the use of AI is permitted in a limited number of situations, and it MUST always be used in a responsible and open manner. Where AI has been used, the reason for its use MUST be stated, any output MUST be clearly identified in the submission, and you MUST be able to demonstrate intellectual ownership of the work.

For instance, it is possible to use AI to help you understand complex concepts by explaining them to you in simpler terms. Similarly, AI may help in preparing for an assessment, e.g., creating essay plans to help organise your thoughts – although it’s likely that your own structure may well be better!

While translating source material is permitted (if properly referenced), using AI to rewrite or translate text that you have drafted is NOT permitted as this is prohibited by the University’s Proofreading Policy. It is important that you develop your own ‘academic voice’, and markers would much prefer to read imperfect English in your ‘voice’ than perfect English written by someone (or something) else.

Of course, AI should NOT be used to create content which is presented as your own work – this is plagiarism.

AI tools should NOT be used to:

  • Replace learning. We should all value our stream of consciousness and being sentient!
  • Gain an unfair advantage. This is academic misconduct.
  • Create content which is presented as your own work. This is plagiarism.
  • Synthesise information. You will not be able to demonstrate your work and thinking, as opposed to that which is artificially generated.
  • Rewrite work or translate your own drafted text. This is prohibited by the University’s Proofreading Policy.

If a generative AI has been used in the process of completing an assessment, you MUST clearly state in your submission:

  • WHY you used a generative AI;
  • WHAT it was used for;
  • WHICH AI and what prompts were used;

Appropriate use of AI will not result in any penalty, but your marker may comment on your use of it.

Inappropriate use of AI may constitute a breach of University policy. If you breach these policies, it may have significant consequences for your studies – for instance, your work may be referred to the Academic Conduct Panel for investigation as Plagiarism or Poor Academic Practice.

You will also have to confirm in your declaration of originality at the point of submission that the work remains yours and you have intellectual ownership of it. You may be called for viva or other interview to demonstrate such intellectual ownership. A failure to disclose the use of AI, or the use of a misleading description of its use, may have significant consequences for your studies and may be prejudicial in any later Academic Misconduct investigations should they arise. As a result, you are advised to keep good records such as screengrabs of any interactions you have with generative AI, in case you are requested to explain further how and why it was used.

University-wide resources on plagiarism

The University’s regulations on plagiarism are contained in University Regulation 11, Academic Integrity.

More detailed guidance on how to implement these regulations is in the Guidance on Regulation 11.

Note that these regulations and guidance were updated in summer 2021, with the updates taking effect from October 4, 2021.

The University also has a Proofreading Policy that sets out what the University considers to be appropriate with regards to proofreading and what checks should be in place when proofreading is undertaken.

Other resources for students are available on the Academic Integrity page.

Further Reading

The Warwick Library has created a Moodle module called PlagiarWISe that explains what plagiarism is, what the consequences are, and how students can avoid it.

PlagiarWISe Moodle

The University’s regulations on plagiarism and cheating are contained in University Regulation 11B, Procedure to be Adopted in the Event of Suspected Cheating:

University Regulation 11B

The University’s Guidelines and Procedure for Suspected Cheating in a University Test give a more detailed account of what constitutes plagiarism and cheating, and of the procedure to be followed in the case of suspected plagiarism, as well as information for students on formative assignments and the use of source-matching software (Turnitin):

Guidelines for Suspected CheatingProcedure for Suspected Cheating

The University has a Proofreading Policy that sets out what the University considers to be appropriate in regards to proofreading and what checks should be in place when proofreading is undertaken.

Proofreading Policy



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