But sometimes, it's hard to know what you should and shouldn't do. In fact, most cases of academic dishonesty are not intentional, and simply the result of a mistake. This guide will help you break down the six most common forms of academic dishonesty, and where to go when you have questions.
How the University Sees it: "… the presentation or use of information, ideas, sentences, findings, etc. as one's own without appropriate citation in a written assignment, test or final examination."
Also called… academic dishonesty, academic misconduct, improper citation, failure to cite, unreferenced quotes and passages, unreferenced sources, re-writing without citing
Some examples might be… taking credit for someone else's ideas, copying images, graphs, tables or diagrams without permission, presenting an unreferenced idea, incorrect citations or references, incomplete bibliography or reference list or self-plagiarism
How to Think About it: Plagiarism can be intentional or unintentional. It counts as plagiarism whether you just can't remember where you got an idea, or you simply forget to add a citation. Remember, group projects also fall under the same guidelines as individual assignments and everyone is responsible if plagiarism occurs. Plagiarism takes many forms and it can happen to anyone.
How it Might Look: You're working on a research paper for your Biology class. Because Biology isn't your area of study, you aren't too sure where to start your research. You Google the topic and find an article from a scientific journal that you think helps to support what you want to say. You manage re-write the main point of the article and add it to your paper. Because you re-wrote the idea in your own words, you don't add a reference or citation. This is an example of plagiarism.
How to Deal: It can be hard to know where to start when it comes to research. It's fine to look up a topic on Google to get an idea of what's out there. It's also OK to paraphrase or summarize another person's idea, or use some of their words, but make sure to add a citation. Remember that to cite correctly and avoid plagiarism, you need to provide both in-text citations (right after the idea in the paper), and a reference list (at the end of the paper).
Did you know? Plagiarism is the most common form of academic dishonesty. In the 2013-2014 school year, plagiarism made up 48% of all academic misconduct cases. You can avoid plagiarism by keeping an organized record of your sources and ensuring that you cite your sources correctly according to the style guidelines of your field.
Real World Case Study: Shahid Azim, University of Regina Professor plagiarizes Masters' student thesis: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/11/13/university-of-regina-plagiarism_n_6150520.html
…I'm not sure how to reference and cite, or what style to use
…I need to summarize or paraphrase an idea, but I don't know how
…I can't keep track of my references
…I want someone to sit down with me to help me out
…I still need help but I can't make it to campus
…I have a subject-specific question
…I just need a quick answer to a specific question
…I want to make sure I totally understand how to avoid plagiarism
…I have a question about copyright permissions for my paper/thesis
…I've been accused of plagiarism
How the University Sees it: "… includes falsification of data or official documents as well as the falsification of medical or compassionate circumstances/documentation to gain accommodations to complete assignments, tests or examinations."
Also called… falsification, fabrication, scientific fraud, making up data, changing data, misrepresenting ideas, submitting made-up data, application fraud, forged documentation
Some examples might be… purchasing a term paper online or from someone else, falsifying a death certificate or other document, falsely claiming illness, falsification of admission application, forging a signature, stealing other students' research ideas, changing answer to a test after it has been graded, claiming an assignment has been submitted when it hasn't
How to Think About it: Sometimes you don't get the results you were expecting. You might be tempted to change data or results slightly, especially if it seems like a minor detail. But if everyone changed their results just a bit when it came to their work, how could we trust any research? Everything is dependent on research, from medical practices, to inventions and innovations, to food and drink, to rules and policies. Academic fraud has big implications, not just for you, but for everyone else.
How it Might Look: You're working on the results section of your lab study. When you run a basic analysis of all of your data, you notice that your results are almost statistically significant. You're worried that you won't have any results to discuss in your upcoming presentation. Since it's pretty close anyway, you decide to report the results as significant, even though they technically aren't.
How to Deal: Research can be time-consuming and frustrating, especially when you don't get the results you want after so much work. But when you take liberties with changing results, numbers or information, you misrepresent the data. This causes problems not just for yourself, but for those who are relying on your work, including the University. If all researchers fabricated data, research would have no value or meaning, and neither would a university degree.
Did you know? Academic fraud comes in many forms. At the University of Manitoba, both application fraud and forged documentation cases make up a portion of total academic misconduct cases. To avoid fraud, always be upfront and honest about your results, procedures, documentation, and other important information.
Real World Case Study: Diederik Stapel, former Social Psychology professor and Dean fabricates years' worth of data: io9.com/5855733/psychologist-admits-to-faking-dozens-of-scientific-studies
…I'm still not sure what would be considered fraud.
…I'm unclear about what the fraud policies specific to this University are.
…I don't know what the rules are for reporting data and statistics.
…I need more in-depth information on good academic and writing practices.
…I've been accused of academic fraud.
How the University Sees it: "…the purposeful circumventing of fair testing procedures. Such acts may be premeditated/planned or may be unintentional or opportunistic."
Also called…talking during exams, contravention of exam regulations, having cheat sheets
Some examples are… looking at another student's paper or screen, letting another student copy off of your exam, helping a friend on an exam, not protecting your answers, taking answers or cheat sheets into an exam, using a cell phone during an exam, asking a TA for special treatment, continuing to write after exam is finished, using unauthorized material during an exam
How to Think About it: If you do anything during an exam that gives you an advantage (besides studying ahead of time!) this makes the conditions no longer fair or equal for everyone. This can include both things you do inside or outside of the testing room. You are also cheating even if you aren't receiving answers by giving help to someone else when they should be working alone. It is important to know you are responsible for protecting your answers from view during an exam.
How it Might Look: You are writing a final exam and when you look up at the clock, you realize you only have 15 minutes left to finish. You start to panic and worry that you won't finish the exam in time. You absentmindedly look over at your friend to see if she is as worried as you are, and unintentionally see her answer for the next question. Since you're short on time, you quickly mark the answer that you saw on her sheet.
How to Deal: Exams can be stressful, especially when you don't understand the course material or start running out of time. It's very important to be aware of the appearance of cheating, even if you don't plan to do it ahead of time. Cheating doesn't just mean looking at someone else's answers during a test. It can also mean any kind of unapproved preparation that gives you an unfair advantage over other students. The best way to avoid this kind of situation is to get help from instructors, teaching assistants, and join study groups before the problem spins out of control.
Did you know? Cheating on exams and tests makes up almost 20% of total academic misconduct cases. You can avoid cheating by sitting far away from friends during an exam and ensuring that you are as well prepared as possible.
Real World Case Study: Investigations: Doctors cheat on exams youtube.com/watch?v=lwEd-RYN9QU
…I don't know what's going to be on the exam or how to prepare.
…I'm still struggling in this one course.
…There's just not enough time for me to study for this exam.
…I still have questions.
…I've been accused of cheating.
How the University Sees it: "…a form of cheating where a student submits a paper/assignment/test in full or in part, for more than one course without the permission of the course instructor."
Also called… self-plagiarism, copying yourself
Other examples are… re-submitting text or data without proper citation, re-submitting the same lab or assignment for another class that has been marked and graded, submitting an old paper…
How to Think About it: As you narrow down your focus of study at the University, you might find yourself writing papers on similar topics. First, the University expects you to do new and original work for each class instead of re- using a paper more than once. If you are writing similar papers, have overlap between them, or need to build on a point you've made before, you need to first ask your professor, and then cite yourself.
How it Might Look: Last year you took a class on environmental impact factors and wrote a paper suggesting that Canada model its environmental policies after Norway. You felt that it made a strong argument. This year, you have to write a research paper on implementing environmental practices for your international politics class. You decide to re-use some of the background paragraphs explaining Norwegian policies.
How to Deal: You should avoid re-using old work. If you have to, and you've gotten the OK from your professor, you can go on to cite yourself just as you would cite another author, but it should be for the purpose of expanding an idea or building on previous work. The reason you need to cite your previous work is because otherwise you are receiving credit for an old idea rather than creating something new.
Did you know? Duplicate submission cases have gone down at the University of Manitoba from the year 2012-2013. Make sure you ask your professor before you decide to build on a previous paper or idea.
Real World Case study: Zygmunt Bauman, Professor Emeritus, timeshighereducation.com/news/zygmunt-bauman-accused-serial-%E2%80%98self-plagiarism%E2%80%99
…I want to write a similar paper/use an argument from a previous paper.
…I don't have the time to write a totally new paper.
...I still have questions/need help.
…I've been accused of duplicate submission.
How the University Sees it: "…the writing of an assignment, lab, test, or examination for another student. It can also be the unauthorized use of another person's signature or identification in order to impersonate someone else. Personation includes both the personator and the person initiating the personation."
Also called… writing a paper/assignment/lab for another student, forging signatures or names on class attendance records
Other examples are… signing an attendance sheet for another student, using fake ID or signature, posting online for a distance course for another student, grading a paper to imply instructor has graded it, asking another student to write your exam or writing an exam for another student
How to Think About it: Personation is pretty straightforward, and there's no grey area here. If you do something in place of another student, or another student does something in place of you, both of you have committed personation. This includes writing a test, assignment, lab or exam for another student, or another student writing one for you. It can also include helping friends write their names on the sign in sheet.
How it Might Look: A classmate has been sick for a week in your linear algebra class. She writes you an anxious email to ask if you wouldn't mind signing the attendance sheet for her next class if she is still absent. The sheet gets passed around at the end of class for the professor to assign participation credits. You don't really see the harm in signing the sheet, and you figure she might return the favour, so you agree.
How to Deal: In any situation potentially involving personation, the best line of defence is communication. If you or a friend are struggling in a course, or have missed a significant number of classes for health or personal reasons, talk to the professor. Both people involved are at fault.
Did you know? Exam personation isn't the most frequent form of academic misconduct, but it still occurs almost every year at the University of Manitoba. Remember that even signing in for another student on an attendance sheet counts as personation. Only sign in for yourself.
…I'm really struggling with my courses and don't know what to do or where to go.
…I've been accused of exam personation.
How the University Sees it: "… when a student and any other unauthorized person work together on assignments, projects, tests, labs or other work intended to be individual."
Also called… unauthorized assistance, collusion, unequal group or team contribution
Other examples are… copying from another student, allowing another student to copy from you, using another student's data, allowing someone else to do the lab work, working together on an individual assignment, dishonest use of old assignments/tests for the use of completing new assignments, sharing course materials online without authorization, submitting material created by someone else, writing someone's essay for them
How to Think About it: Learning how to work with other people is a big part of your university education, but so is learning to work by yourself. While it might be obvious that you shouldn't work with a partner on some assignments, there are other situations where the line between appropriate and inappropriate collaboration can seem fuzzy. Even if past assignments have been collaborative, that doesn't mean this one is too.
How it Might Look: You're taking a research methods course in which you must complete a data analysis assignment. You and your classmates have been instructed by the Teaching Assistant to use the same method of analysis in order to learn how it is applied to a real data set. You're all a little bit confused by the assignment, and end up completing the analysis together on one student's computer. A few weeks later, your professor calls you in for a meeting to discuss why one section of your lab assignment is nearly identical to that written by two other students.
How to Deal: The only person who can decide what is or isn't appropriate collaboration is your professor. Depending on the professor, something like a classmate proofreading your paper may be considered inappropriate collaboration. Unless the instructor has specifically stated that the project can be worked on in groups, you should assume that the assignment is meant to be done individually.
Did you know? Inappropriate collaboration is the second-most frequent academic misconduct behavior, making up almost 30% of all cases in 2013-2014. You can avoid engaging in inappropriate collaboration by asking your instructor for clarification on whether group work is permitted, and to what degree.
Real World Case study: Harvard: news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2012/08/college-announces-investigation
…I don't know if I'm allowed to work with others.
…I need help with the assignment, I can't do it alone.
…I still have a question about what's appropriate collaboration.
…I checked and I am allowed to work with others.
…I've been reported for inappropriate collaboration.