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English, French, and Math Support: Academic integrity: How to achieve it in your written work

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Academic integrity: How to achieve it in your written work

Integrity is the quality of being honest. Academic integrity refers to being honest in schoolwork. This tip sheet describes how to demonstrate academic integrity.

Ignorance of the rules is not a defense; accidental plagiarism is still plagiarism.

As a student, you are responsible for knowing the College rules about academic integrity; these are found in the Institutional Policy on the Evaluation of Student Achievement (IPESA) on the college website.

Plagiarism is a form of dishonesty (cheating) that occurs when a student presents or submits work that is not entirely his or her own. Section 4.5.1 of the IPESA states:

Plagiarism is a form of cheating that occurs when a student presents or submits the work of another, in whole or in part, as his or her own. It includes but is not limited to using material from any source that is not cited, submitting someone else’s paper as one’s own and receiving assistance from tutors, family or friends that calls the originality of the work into question. Plagiarism also includes presenting or submitting one’s own work when such work has already been submitted for evaluation in another course.

Using outside sources is an important part of research. However, you must always make clear when you use information that is not your own. The three sections below provide tips and examples to help ensure your work has academic integrity.


1. Acknowledge all your source information

Students can borrow two types of things from a source: words (which include ideas) and just ideas. When gathering information, always keep track of all your bibliographic information. This applies to Internet sources, too.

The two examples below show the citation for a direct quote and for a summary.

a) Use quotation marks to indicate all the words and sentences you copy (quote directly).


In her book Paris 1919, Margaret MacMillan claims that “the League of Nations and, by extension, Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points ultimately failed, despite a monumental effort from a determined and resourceful leader” (MacMillan 327).

The student has quoted from MacMillan’s book and acknowledged the source.

b) If you take notes in your own words, you must still state the source of your ideas, even when they are adapted or interpreted.


Even though Woodrow Wilson was a capable leader, and worked extremely hard to make his projects succeed, the League of Nations and the Fourteen Points both failed in the end (MacMillan 327).

The student has taken McMillan’s ideas, summarized them in her own words, and acknowledged the source.

Information that is considered common knowledge, such as “Canada Day takes place every July 1” and “World War I lasted from 1914 to 1918,” does not need to be cited.

However, if you are including a specific idea or fact about general information, as in the following example, you must cite your source.

“In 1867, the vision of Sir George-Étienne Cartier and Sir John A. Macdonald, among others, gave rise to Confederation – an early union, and one of the moments that have come to define Canada.” (Trudeau).

Always ask your teacher if he/she agrees that a given item of information is common knowledge!


Always follow the rules for the citation style requested by your teacher. The most common citations styles are MLA, APA and Chicago. Please go to the Library for citation style assistance; you may also consult the Library's Citation Style LibGuides for details.


2. Write your own paper

It is not permissible to accept or buy a paper or parts of a paper from another person or organization, and submit that work as your own. This includes giving material to others to submit as their own. It is never permissible for other students, tutors, family members, friends or strangers to write any part of your work.

To write your own paper, you must keep track of the various phases of your work. Your teacher can ask to see them, particularly if he/she suspects plagiarism. For example, you must be able to show the following types of progress:

  • A draft outline
  • Your own notes on the original material
  • The revisions you work on


3. Hand in original material for each assignment and for each class

This means that, from one class to the next, all work must be original.

Texts from one class may be discussed in written work for another class, but to write about the same book in two classes using the same ideas, or to cut and paste ideas or text from one paper to another, is considered plagiarism.

An assignment you complete for one class cannot be submitted for another class


Course 1: In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare shows us two characters who may be in love, or who may just be infatuated. Their infatuation, ultimately, is what kills them.

Course 2: In Macbeth, ambition is shown as dangerous and deadly, just as unhealthy or obsessive love is shown to be fatal in Romeo and Juliet.

In Course 2 above, a student refers to what he wrote about Romeo and Juliet in Course 1, without writing the same words or phrases. This is acceptable because the words and phrases are different.

Please come to the Writing Centre during office hours if you have any questions about this page, or MIO Nadine Champagne. Consult Library staff for citation style assistance.

Academic integrity -- Printable format

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