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Academic Integrity

We're part of an academic community at Warwick. Whether studying, teaching or researching, we’re all taking part in an expert conversation which must meet standards of academic integrity. When we all meet these standards, we can take pride in our own academic achievements, as individuals and as an academic community.

Academic integrity means committing to honesty in academic work, giving credit where we've used others' ideas and being proud of our own achievements.

When deadlines are approaching and time is tight, taking a few shortcuts to finish a piece of work on time may seem tempting, but the knock-on effects can be long-lasting.

A breach of academic integrity can occur inadvertently, for example due to being in a rush to complete an assignment, or by not checking what’s expected. However, this term can also include deliberate cheating, which Warwick's regulations define as 'an attempt to benefit oneself or another, by deceit or fraud... [including] reproducing one's own work or the work of others without proper acknowledgement'.

This includes:

  • Dishonest or forged referencing and plagiarism
  • Requesting and using work from essay mills, other individuals or editors (sometimes known as contract cheating)
  • Using unauthorised sources or notes in exams, or dishonestly obtaining knowledge of assessments prior to sitting exams
  • Copying from others or allowing others to copy your work
  • Collusion - collaboration (agreed or unauthorised) with another person to produce a piece of work submitted for assessment, where only one person receives credit, or both use the same work for the basis of a submitted assessment

  • Self-plagiarism - the unattributed re-use of your own work for another assessment

  • Dishonest use of another person or group’s research data or analytical methods, or falsification of data

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Avoiding plagiarism

  • Identify which key sources you may need to read and reference in good time before you start your assessment
  • Always be honest in your bibliography or literature review – it’s often the first place markers look when they start reading your assignment. It will also help you identify gaps in your own preparation if you only include sources you have genuinely consulted.
  • Read widely, and consult scholars who disagree with each other on theories or ideas and decide where you stand on the topic in question; just be sure to demonstrate how the existing literature has informed your writing, even if you come to your own conclusions
  • Don’t be afraid to use your own words – you’ll learn more, find your own voice as a writer, and your work will be more interesting to read. Just make sure you reference each theory and concept as well as each quotation, and be careful not to paraphrase or to stitch others’ ideas together as your own.
  • Organise and structure your work in your own way, this will help you develop your thinking and research on the subject and avoid inadvertently replicating others’ lines of argument or discussion
  • Check what the academic integrity conventions are in the subject you are studying. If you are taking a module outside your usual department, don’t be afraid to ask a member of staff what the conventions are, as each subject can be slightly different.
  • In some subjects, it may be expected that you will acknowledge your use of particular methodologies, analytical tools or software in preparing your assessment – don’t forget to make a note of these as you go along

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What support can I access to achieve academic integrity?

Academic Support Librarians can provide advice and guidance on referencing and plagiarism.

Academic skills workshops are available for undergraduates, master's students and researchers.

Book one-to-one advice on academic skills, including academic integrity, with a Study Skills Adviser.

If you have any queries or concerns, the tutor who sets your assignment will be able to offer help and advice.

Each academic department has its own policies and practices concerning academic integrity and that these can be found on your department's webpages and course handbooks - always ask if you're not sure where to look.

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If you have any queries or concerns, the tutor who sets your assignment will be able to offer help and advice

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Consequences of failing to meet standards of academic integrity

  • The policies are strict even if it’s the first time your work has not met standards of academic integrity – you should expect to get a lower mark or be asked to take the paper again
  • Even if your work has been found not to have met standards of academic integrity after you’ve graduated, you may be investigated and your degree may be withdrawn
  • You could fail the assignment
  • You could fail the module
  • You could be removed from your course
  • It could prevent you from practicing your chosen career (e.g. in medicine, teaching, social work)
Detecting plagiarism - Turnitin

Academic departments at Warwick use Turnitin, a sophisticated software which detects similarities between submitted assessments and other texts, and provides a similarity report which is used by academics to determine whether plagiarism has occurred.

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Avoiding plagiarism

  • Be honest in your bibliography or literature review – it’s often the first place markers look when they start reading your assignment
  • Consult authors who disagree with each other on theories or ideas and decide which one you’d side with; just be sure to reference which point has come from which author for your marker
  • If you’ve read enough, have referenced enough evidence and you feel confident enough to put forward your own unique insights or disagree with an established author, make sure you’ve referenced thoroughly so that your own thoughts stand out

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Definition of plagiarism

Taken from our PlagiarWISe course, Teddi Fishman's description of plagiarism (2009) explains what plagiarism is and how we might be able to identify it. Plagiarism occurs when someone:

  • Uses words, ideas or work products...
  • ...attributable to another identifiable person or source
  • ...without attributing the work to the source from which it was obtained
  • ...in a situation where there is legitimate expectation of original authorship
  • ...in order to obtain some benefit, credit, or gain, which need not be monetary

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University resources to consult