What is academic integrity?
Academic integrity is the ethical policy or moral code of academic study. It describes a shared commitment to six fundamental values in earning, teaching, and research in UK higher education and beyond. These values provide a practical and positive framework of expectations shared between students and staff. It is essential that staff and students all understand and adhere to these values.
"Aacademic misconduct presents a threat to the world-class reputation of UK higher education. Students who cheat risk their academic and future careers. The implications go far wider than higher education. Cheating in higher education is a societal problem. Students who cheat can enter the workforce without the necessary skills, knowledge and competency, with potential public health and safety implications” (QAA).
What are the 6 fundamental values of academic integrity?
The Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity, The International Centre for Academic Integrity, 1999
Honesty means we, as staff, expect students to be truthful about which ideas are their own and which belong to, or are derived from, other authors. We also expect the methods and results of their experiments and research to be genuine and interpreted truthfully. Learners should show awareness of potential biases and declare any conflicts of interest. Students should also be able to expect the same honesty from academic staff. Mutual honesty supports a community of trust.
Trust requires a reciprocal relationship between all members of a learning community. It means that staff should set explicit assessment guidelines, provide transparent marking criteria, timely feedback and feedforward, and signpost students to accessible channels of support. Students should commit to preparing and submitting their own work honestly and actively avoid acts of deception. Staff should also be confident that they are working within a transparent departmental process within a rigorous and reasonable university-wide regulatory system. Students should also be confident that their peers are not intending to cheat, or inciting others to cheat. The University is expected by both staff and students to take appropriate action to mitigate and respond to acts of misconduct in a timely and fair manner.
Fairness depends on the institution to produce and communicate clear expectations of academic standards and conduct. We must enable students to identify and apply the necessary skills and behaviours to meet those expectations. When required, appropriate members of staff should impartially and even-handedly apply the disciplinary procedures for misconduct. Both students and staff should respect and depend on those empowered to take action and provide support related to academic misconduct.
Respect is both mutual and multifaceted. It should be applied equally to others, and to oneself, regardless of differences in race, nationality, age, sex, gender, sexuality, class, or other elements of distinction across backgrounds, identity, and political affiliation. It includes, but is not limited to, valuing a diversity of opinions and appreciating the need to challenge, test, and refine ideas and approaches.
Responsibility is shared by all. Academic integrity depends on every student, academic, and administrator to safeguard quality and standards in higher education so that those who cheat do not enter the workforce “without the necessary skills, knowledge, and competenc[ies]” to work in their field (QAA). It is up to each individual to familiarise themselves with what academic integrity is, what the expectations are, to adhere to those expectations, and to call out behaviour that contradicts these values by reporting to the appropriate persons. Taking responsibility requires personal courage and depends on the courage and commitment of other individuals too.
Courage is required to live up to these values every day, even when it seems that doing so could come at personal cost, such as failing an assignment or reporting a friend or colleague for misconduct.
Below are some ideas for developing academic integrity within your learning and teaching. There are strategies for solutions that can be adopted right now and for those that require slightly longer-term planning or departmental collaboration. These lists are not exhaustive, and not all will necessarily apply to your own context. Please contact the Curriculum Development team if you'd like to discuss how to apply these ideas more specifically in your situation.
Developing Academic Integrity within the curriculum
Here are some suggested next steps for exploring how to practically embed the values of Academic Integrity within your teaching:
- Read the Academic Integrity webpage. These are University resources are designed to support your students throughout their degrees and include training on referencing and avoiding plagiarism, critical thinking, and reading and notemaking. Staff can also make use of the video library to support students with their assessments.
- Read our Quick Wins for Reducing the Impetus to Cheat
- Explore how to design effective open book exam questions
- Look through our quick guide on writing effective MCQs
- Employ Urkund, our plagiarism detection support software
- Get to know Inspera, our online assessment platform
Read more about Academic Integrity on the QAA webpages.