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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, 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. 

What does it mean for you to be honest? How do you recognize if someone is moral? How do these ideas connect to your education? 

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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 actions could you take when learning to live these values?
  • What actions would you expect from your faculty and from the rest of the university 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.  

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 (Sanders, pp. 46-47).

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Academic Integrity at UofM

The University of Memphis takes academic integrity seriously. The section on academic integrity in the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities [PDF] states very clearly that "[p]lagiarism, cheating, and other forms of academic dishonesty are prohibited" (p.22). 

The Code also provides how the University of Memphis defines these violations: 

(1) Plagiarism. The adoption or reproduction of ideas, words, statements, images, or works of another person as one’s own without proper attribution, or the reuse of one’s own academic work previously submitted for academic credit at any academic institution (including the University of Memphis).
(2) Cheating. Using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, or aids in any academic exercise or test/examination. The term academic exercise includes all forms of work submitted for credit or hours.
(3) Fabrication. Unauthorized falsification or invention of any information or citation in an academic exercise. Providing false or misleading information to an instructor. 
(4) Any attempt to interfere or tamper with the academic work of another student.
(5) Unauthorized sale, distribution, and/or solicitation of course notes or other course materials. Any sale, delivery, distribution, or solicitation of course materials without the consent of the author and/or the course instructor. (p. 18)

You can read pages 22 - 23 of the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities for an explanation of the process and punishments for violations of academic integrity at UofM.