- What is academic integrity?
- Is it enough to apply my personal values around honesty and integrity to my academic life?
- What are some of the most common forms of academic honesty?
- Would it be academically dishonest to use artificial intelligence (AI) generators to help me complete schoolwork?
- How do I document the integrity of my academic process (my research and writing)?
- How can I learn more about academic integrity at Trent?
Having integrity means acting in a way that is honest and moral. In our daily personal interactions with others, acting with integrity tells people that we can be trusted, that we are honest, and that we follow generally accepted ‘rules’ or moral codes. An obvious example of acting with integrity would be alerting someone that they have dropped their wallet rather than pocketing it! A less obvious example of acting with integrity might involve acknowledging a co-worker’s great idea to your manager, rather than taking credit for it yourself. In your academic activities, acting with integrity is also important. Acting with academic integrity means that your instructors and teaching staff can trust that your work represents an honest effort, is original, and has followed university, rules or policies.
Is it enough to apply my personal values around honesty and integrity to my academic life? (I think I have a strong moral compass; isn’t that enough?)
You may feel that the values of honesty and integrity already guide your decisions and actions, both inside and outside of your academic work, and this is a good thing. You may come to university understanding that it is wrong to cheat on an exam or pass someone else’s work off as your own; however, you may be unaware of special academic standards and rules that inform what constitutes integrity in an academic setting. For example, many students think it is okay to reuse a paper, or parts of a paper, in separate assignments for different courses. In other words, taking a section of a paper submitted to a first-year psychology course and inserting it in a second-year psychology paper on a similar topic may seem reasonable. But, using work that you have already received credit for in a different assignment is listed as a violation in Trent University’s Academic Integrity Policy.
Cheating covers a wide range of conduct that includes, but is not limited to, bringing unauthorized aids to an exam, copying from another person’s exam or assignment, allowing others to copy your work, communicating with another student during an exam, using artificial intelligence (AI) generators to create content for an online exam, or even impersonating another person in an exam or test. We think it is important to acknowledge that most students don’t plan to cheat in university, but often poor judgement, peer pressure, or inadequate planning are factors behind dishonest acts. At Academic Skills, we think practicing good time management and developing strong study habits will reduce anxiety and stress, helping students avoid acts of dishonesty.
When a student knowingly uses someone else’s work in a way that makes it seem that it is their own, they have committed plagiarism. Inserting an image into a slideshow without giving credit constitutes plagiarism. Cutting and pasting text from social media, a webpage, or AI generator into your essay is plagiarism. To avoid committing an act of plagiarism you must learn to use sources properly. Whether you are summarizing (stating only the main points and supporting points of a source) or paraphrasing (rewriting a source in your own words with the same level of detail as the original) you must learn the proper steps for putting other’s work in your own words. Remember, whether you directly quote the work of other sources or make reference to their ideas, you must include an in-text citation. See our Documentation Guide for information on what to cite, and how to cite it.
Sharing course content
Did you know that sharing course content with anyone not registered in that course is an offence under Trent’s Academic Dishonesty Policy (2021)? For example, you cannot post your instructor’s lecture slides, exam questions, assignment guidelines or other course-content to online study sites such as Chegg. You may not share any course materials that your instructor has created without their permission. If you are unsure whether you can share course materials with other people, check with your instructor first and get permission.
Would it be academically dishonest to use artificial intelligence (AI) generators, like ChatGPT, to help me complete schoolwork?
Trent University’s Undergraduate Academic Integrity Policy (2023) states that the unauthorized use of AI generators, like ChatGPT, to complete schoolwork is dishonest. This is because, to ‘earn’ your university degree you must complete and submit work that represents your creativity and intelligence, not that of a large language model or other form of artificial intelligence.
AI machines or generators have become so pervasive that we may not realize when we are using one. For example, a spelling or grammar checker or a citation machine is generative AI, but most people don’t question their use as they are modifying content created by a person (e.g., identifying grammatical errors or presenting reference information in the correct format). But, because we are in a time when AI technology is rapidly advancing and as new software becomes available, we must be aware of how its use impacts our academic integrity.
The key thing to remember as you work to maintain your academic integrity: UNAUTHORIZED use of AI generators violates the policy, but you can use AI generators for uses that your course instructor authorizes.
See the following chart for examples of uses/tasks by AI generators that are generally acceptable and those which are not. Your course syllabus or assignment instructions may indicate which types of AI generators are authorized. You may only use AI generators on course work if your professor has clearly authorised the use of generative AI for the assignment or the course. If you still have questions about whether you can use an AI generator for a particular task, it is best to ask your instructor, or other course staff (TA, Lab Demonstrator, Seminar Leader, etc.).
|Generally acceptable||Grey area
(clarify with instructor unless this use is explicitly authorized)
|Generally not acceptable (unless instructor explicitly authorizes the use)|
|Using grammar and spell checkers (MS Word, Grammarly) to polish original writing, citation generators to create reference lists.||Asking generative AI to create an outline for a paper, explain a concept, photoshop a picture, or translate text to another language.||Prompting AI generators to create text (whole paper or part), code, art that might be viewed as your own work, or check problem set answers.|
In courses where you are authorized to use AI generators, you must acknowledge this use with appropriate citations. The major citation styles have provided formats and guidance on citations for generative AI, which is summarized in the Academic Skills Documentation Guide.
While nobody wants to find themselves the subject of an academic integrity investigation, it is entirely possible that during the course of your school career, the originality of work you have submitted for credit may be questioned. If this happens, your course instructor has the right to request copies of your rough work to verify and validate your academic process. Here are a few examples of how you can protect and demonstrate your integrity by documenting your academic process.
At the Planning and Preparation Stage of the Academic Process
When you are unsure about how to proceed with an assignment, it’s important to ask for help. Your professor, teaching assistant(s), and academic skills staff are all here to help you understand assignment expectations.
Notes from your discussions will demonstrate how you narrowed your topic or developed a thesis and supporting arguments. This Thesis Information Template can help you record the early stages of your writing process.
At the Research Stage of the Academic Process
At the research stage, using a formal ‘research plan’ can help you to document your research process. Consider using Academic Skills’ Research Plan Template to show how you explored your topic, created keywords and identified sources.
When reading your sources, take physical notes of the key ideas you will use to support your assignments. Academic Skills’ Notetaking Templates are great ways to document and organize your reading notes. To keep track of your sources, their citation information, key findings, and connections to your topic you could use this helpful Excel spreadsheet template Literature Chart.
At the Writing Stage of the Academic Process
At this stage, it is important to keep records of your writing progression. Save digital copies of your work as you progress from outline to rough draft to final product; clearly name your files for easy access. Alternatively, you can print versions of your work along the way.
And of course, always seek assistance from course staff or Academic Skills Instructors if you would like help with this process.
At the Revising and Editing Stage of the Academic Process
At this stage, it can be tempting to rely on outside help such as Grammarly, citation managers, or the editing services of friends and family! Remember to take care that the work you submit for credit is original and reflects your own thoughts and ideas. If changes to your work are suggested, it is your responsibility to decide whether to accept them. The best way to ensure your edits and revisions are your own is to learn to apply grammar rules and conventions. Why not check out Academic Skills’ guide on How to Edit Your Writing to brush up on strategies for revision, proofreading and grammar and style conventions? Our Documentation Guide shows you how to cite and reference your sources properly.
We hope these tips are helpful, not only to create a record of your writing progress, but also as tools to make the process easier! Remember to book an appointment with an Academic Skills Instructor to discuss any stage of your writing process.
The most important thing you can do is to familiarize yourself with Trent University’s Academic Integrity Policy. Here you will learn about academic integrity, academic dishonesty, cheating, plagiarism and rules around sharing and distribution of course content. As well, the Policy outlines the penalties for academic offences and the procedures for investigating academic dishonesty and appealing decisions about offences. If you have any general questions about academic integrity, please feel free to book an appointment with an Academic Skills Instructor, ask your Instructor or TA, or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your question.
Academic Skills at Trent University has developed an online course called the Academic Integrity Module. Many course instructors require their students to complete the Module and its three short quizzes before they hand in any major coursework. If you are required to complete the Academic Integrity Module you will see the module listed on your Blackboard course dashboard. If you are not enrolled in a course that requires you to take the module, you can request to be added to the module by emailing email@example.com. The Academic Integrity Module is particularly informative because it presents real-life examples of student behaviours that constitute academic dishonesty.