Academic integrity involves several concepts. Functionally, academic integrity is being a part of the academic conversation (usually by writing a paper) on a specific subject and respecting the work of others, whether your peers or the researchers that have come before you. Procedurally, academic integrity means, at a core minimum, being diligent in the following three areas:
- Do your own research, be diligent about keeping accurate records and notes, and communicate your findings and conclusions in your own words.
- Distinguish your own ideas and words from those of others so that your work is recognized.
- Acknowledge when you refer to or build upon work that someone else has already done.
These procedural steps show that you recognize your role as one of many voices in an ongoing area or field of research. It also helps other scholars find the resources that you used to produce your work when they want to see if those resources are relevant to their work.
Citation is the way you record, communicate, and acknowledge the ideas, papers, books, etc. that you used to produce your work.
- Cite a Source: How and Why You Should Do It (a video created by the University of Illinois Library.
- Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing (a guide from the Purdue University Online Writing Lab).
Plagiarism is the term used for presenting another person or organization’s words or ideas as your own. Some people plagiarize on purpose, but if you do not cite appropriately or keep good notes, you run the risk of plagiarizing unintentionally. In University disciplinary action for plagiarism, the distinction between intentional and unintentional plagiarism is not always taken into consideration.
- University of Illinois Library website on Academic Integrity and Plagiarism
- “What is Plagiarism?” (Produced by Robeson Library at Rutgers University. Helpful for understanding the difference between quoting and paraphrasing and recognizing real situations in which you might compromise your academic integrity.)
- Avoiding Plagiarism (Concise online text resource from the Purdue University Online Writing Lab).
- Avoiding Plagiarism, Self-Plagiarism and Other Questionable Writing Practices: A Guide to Ethical Writing, by Michael Roig, Ph.D. (Roig wrote this 63-page PDF booklet on behalf of the Office of Research Integrity at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.)
Copyright Issues in Scholarly Research and Communication
“Copyright infringement” is a legal term related to plagiarism, but it is not not the same. Plagiarism involves using the words, and ideas, or “intellectual property” of others and presenting them as your own, whereas copyright is using a person or organization’s right to profit monetarily from a work. The person who came up with the ideas and words of a work is not necessarily the same person who has the legal right to profit from the selling of that work. For example, the copyright for articles published in journals often belongs to the journal, not the author.
Certain uses of published works are considered “fair use,” such as quoting small amounts of text, citing another person’s work in your own, or downloading a PDF copy of a journal article for your personal use only. Fair use requires discretion. Many, though not all, educational uses of copyrighted materials are considered fair. Examples of what likely constitutes “unfair use” of copyright works are sharing print or digital copies of a copyrighted work with others beyond what is necessary for personal or group work, reproducing a copyrighted work without permission for a purpose that leads to your financial gain, or using copyrighted photos that have been downloaded from the Internet in a public presentation without first obtaining permission.
- Copyright, a webpage created by the University of Illinois Library
- Strategies for Fair Use from the Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL).
If you publish, make sure you know what rights you have over your published work, and make sure your use of others’ work does not violate copyright laws. Copyright infringements may be subject to legal penalties.