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Academic Integrity

What is Academic Integrity?

Academic Integrity is one of the most important principles in Higher Education and research. By working with Academic Integrity all members of the university contribute to a culture that is honest, transparent and respectful, maintaining the integrity of a student’s work and their award. Academic integrity is based on the ethos that how you learn is as important as what you learn. 

For you as a student, Academic Integrity means that your work must be a result of your own research and ideas. Information taken from other sources must be fully acknowledged, whether it is directly quoted, paraphrased or summarised.

For the University definition of academic integrity and the core principles it is based upon, please see here: Academic Misconduct Procedure - Swansea University

Why is Academic Integrity Important?

Academic integrity is important as it enables all students to be judged fairly and on the merits of their own work and research. This in turn allows you to have pride and confidence in your achievements, and to prosper beyond university without resorting to unethical practices.

Academic Integrity E-Learning Module
The vice-chancellor shaking a student's hand at a graduation ceremony.

You can find out more about the Dos and Don’ts of Academic Integrity in the Academic Success: Skills for Learning, Skills for Life course. This self-directed, e-learning course is made up of three modules, the third module of which focuses on Academic Integrity.

You can access the content relating to Academic Integrity by following the link above, enrolling yourself on the canvas course, and then selecting 'Section 3: Academic Integrity' on the course's home page.

Academic Misconduct

Academic Misconduct happens when a student acts in a way that gives themself, or another student, an unpermitted advantage. This applies whether they act alone, or with others to do this. 

This can occur in any assessment that a student takes in pursuit of their qualification at Swansea University.  

Students may intentionally or unintentionally commit academic misconduct; thereforeit is important to be aware of what is considered an offence by the university. You can find all the relevant policy documents and FAQ's further down this page, or have a look at the following examples:

Examples of Academic Misconduct

Plagiarism
A student copying the work of another student

Plagiarism is defined as using, without acknowledgement, another person’s work and submitting for assessment as though it were one’s own work. 

An example of plagiarism is copying a piece of text word-for-word from another source without acknowledging the original author(s). Plagiarism can also occur when you use someone else’s idea, phrase it in your own words, but fail to acknowledge the original source. Other examples include using but not acknowledging figures, software, diagrams, materials from the internet, or another student’s work.  

It should be noted that whether this happens intentionally or unintentionally, it will still be seen and treated as plagiarism. This is why it is important to learn when and how to acknowledge sources, use direct quotations and paraphrase sources accurately and correctly. Please see the section below for guides on referencing, and helpful tips for quoting and paraphrasing. 

Commissioning
Someone taking money out of an open wallet as if to pay for something.

Commissioning work is when a student arranges for another person to produce a piece of work for them. Regardless of whether or not this work is then submitted as though it were their own work, and regardless of whether or not the student pays for the work with money or with a good or service - any arrangement for another person to produce work for you is deemed a commision.

In recent years the market for ‘essay mills’ has grown at a rapid rate. These work by charging students to write essays. It goes without saying that this counts as academic misconduct: the work is not the student’s own and therefore the student has not gone through the required process of research and expression of ideas that facilitates learning.

Implications for this kind of ‘contract’ cheating are severe, and the standard penalty for commissioning work is cancellation of all module marks across the level of study and withdrawal from the university.

While a student considering commissioning work, including contract cheatingmight assume there is little chance of them being caught, in fact the reverse is true. Studies have shown over 60% of ‘commissioned essays’ are correctly identified by lecturers, as the person writing the essay will not have had access to the same lectures and materials as the student. What’s more, the essay mill writers will often reuse work from previous essays on similar subjects, meaning there is a high chance of the assignment being picked up by Turnitin.  

Contract Cheating companies are often unscrupulous too; not only do they fail to give refunds, but there have also been cases where students have received threatening emails from contract cheating companies, demanding extra payments for them not to tell a university that the essay was bought.

For more about the dangers of using essay mills, watch the interview with Professor Michael Draper further down the page, or have a look at the following article:

Time Higher Education: Six Reasons not to Use Essay Mills 

Paraphrasing and Grammar Software
Someone typing on the keyboard of a laptop

It might seem tempting to get a little help with paraphrasing from software that seems to do it automatically, though again, this can be considered deliberate academic misconduct and should be avoided.  

In most subjects, the majority of sources should be paraphrased rather than quoted. This is because lecturers need to see that a student understands the material, and can explain it in their own words. By using software to do this, a student is skipping the valuable process of explaining that helps embed understanding.  

Using this software will have implications for the quality of the work, as while it may be able to suggest a paraphrase for a sentence, it will not understand the full context of the information.  

Finally, as with contract cheating, work that uses this type of software will have a far higher chance of being picked up on Turnitin, as it will always interpret source material in the same way.

Online programs that offer help with writing style and grammar can also be problematic, as work that you input may be stored on the company’s servers. This can lead to it being picked up on by Turnitin.

Collusion
A student showing her work to another student for them to copy.

While study groups and working with peers can be productive and even encouraged in some circumstances, when it comes to individual assessments, it is important to ensure that all the work is done by the individual. Collusion occurs when students work together, without authorisation, to produce a piece of work for assessment, but then present the materials as their own without acknowledging the contributions of the originator(s).

Breach of Exam Rules
Someone cheating on an exam by looking at their mobile phone.

When taking an exam, online or in-person, there will be a set of regulations which you must follow. In order to maintain Academic Integrity, it is important to pay close attention to these regulations and make sure that you follow them. 

Examples of practices which should be avoided include bringing in any unauthorised materials and devices into the examination room, communicating with others without permission from an invigilator, impersonating an examination candidate or allowing yourself to be impersonated, and presenting false evidence of special circumstances to examination boards. 

It is best to leave your phone out of the room, avoid any unpermitted communication with others, and be honest about who you are and any circumstances which might affect your exam performance.

Please refer to Swansea University’s Examination Regulations here for further information: 

Regulations and Procedures for the Operation of Examination

Falsification
A man in a hood typing on a computer
Falsification is when a researcher fabricates the results of laboratory, field-work or other forms of data collection and analysis. This also constitutes academic misconduct.

What can I do to avoid academic misconduct? 

The best way to avoid academic misconduct is to be informed about policies and regulations for the university, individual colleges and modules. See the links, guides and videos below for helpful information and suggestions on how to proceed in your studies with academic integrity.

WATCH:

The following videos will play in a pop-out YouTube player, and have captions available in both English and Welsh. If you cannot access YouTube in your country, you can find links to the videos on Panopto at the end of this section.

READ:

What happens if I commit academic misconduct?

The procedure for academic misconduct is handled case by case. For more information, please see the links below. 

Potential penalties include written warnings, cancellation of marks for the papera mark of zero for the module, cancellation of marks for the level of study, or cancellation of all marks and disqualification from the programme. 

Other Helpful Resources