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Plagiarism and Academic Integrity

A guide for students, faculty, and staff defining plagiarism and detailing how to avoid academic dishonesty.

Academic Integrity Basics

To understand academic integrity, let's start by looking at the two words that make up the concept:Woman taking notes on a book

  • "Integrity" can be defined as the "quality of being honest and having strong moral principles" (Lexico).
  • "Academic" means "[r]elating to education and scholarship" (Lexico).

So "academic integrity" refers to what it means to be honest and moral when it comes to your education and scholarship. 

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • How do you personally define "honesty" and "strong moral principles?"
  • What would it mean to apply these concepts to your education? 

Values of Academic Integrity

The International Center for Academic Integrity has identified six fundamental values essential to maintaining academic integrity:

  • Honesty
  • Trust
  • Fairness
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Courage

(The Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity [PDF])

The first five values set out how students, faculty, staff, and administrators at UofM and other educational institutions should behave towards each other to create a better learning community. Take a moment and think about what it means to act with honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility.

  • What does it mean to act with honest, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility when studying and learning? 
  • What actions would you expect from your instructors and from the rest of the university community if they lived these values?

The last value, courage, is a about having the personal strength to live out the other five values, even if it would be easier not to.  

[Photo by cottonbro from Pexels]

Why Does Academic Integrity Matter?

The Fogelman College of Business & Economics makes a clear case in their Standards for Academic Integrity about what is at stake when it comes to acting with academic integrity during your education: 

The purpose of a university education is to learn. Cheating, plagiarizing, and other acts of dishonesty do not contribute to learning.

Dr. Matthew Sanders reinforces this point in his book Becoming a Learner: Realizing the Opportunity of Education. Your education is an opportunity to grow and develop habits that will benefit you for the rest of your life, but plagiarism, cheating, and other acts of academic dishonesty waste this opportunity. Dr. Sanders notes:

Throughout your college career you make and keep commitments. You agree to follow the ethical standards of your school—namely to work independently and not cheat. Because you are continually in the process of fulfilling these commitments, you have the opportunity to develop your integrity on a daily basic. Cheating not only short-circuits learning, it also destroys rather than builds integrity. In addition, your integrity will be a central feature of your success in your family, community, and profession (46-47).

Handshake

[Photo by Cytonn Photography from Pexels]

Academic Integrity at UofM

The University of Memphis takes academic integrity seriously. In the Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities [PDF], plagiarism and other academic misconduct are considered "inappropriate for the University community and in opposition to the lawful missions and core values of the University (7). Academic misconduct is the very first topic covered on behavioral expectations in the Code.  

According to the Code, academic misconduct involves "any act of academic dishonesty," including:

  1. Making use of or providing unauthorized assistance or materials in the preparation or taking of an examination or other academic coursework;
  2. Acting as a substitute for another person in any academic evaluation or assignment;
  3. Utilizing another person as a substitute for him/herself in any academic evaluation or assignment;
  4. Committing plagiarism by presenting as one’s own work, for academic evaluation or assignment, the ideas, representations, or works of another person or persons or oneself without customary and proper acknowledgment of sources;
  5. Knowingly submitting one’s work for multiple assignments or classes unless explicitly authorized by the instructor;
  6. Committing an act that materially prevents, impedes, and/or impairs others from completing an academic evaluation or assignment; and/or
  7. Attempting to influence or change one’s academic evaluation or record, through dishonesty, coercion, threat, and/or intimidation. (7)

Citations

“Academic.” Lexico Dictionaries, https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/academic.

Fogelman College of Business & Economics. “FCBE Standards for Academic Integrity.” University of Memphis, https://www.memphis.edu/fcbe/students/integrity.php.

“Integrity.” Lexico Dictionaries, https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/integrity.

International Center for Academic Integrity. The Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity. 2nd ed., 2014, https://www.academicintegrity.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Fundamental-Values-2014.pdf.

Sanders, Matthew L. Becoming a Learner: Realizing the Opportunity of Education. 1st ed., Institute for Communication & Leadership, 2012.

University of Memphis. Student Code of Rights & Responsibilities. https://www.memphis.edu/osa/pdfs/student_code.pdf.