The importance of academic integrity
The University of Melbourne expects the highest ethical standards from its students and staff in all areas of their academic work and professional behaviour. The work of each individual reflects on the academic and professional standing of the University as an institution that upholds ethical practice in research, learning, and teaching. Academic work submitted for assessment or publication must be the original work of the author or authors. If the ideas or words of others have been drawn upon, this must be thoroughly and clearly acknowledged using agreed scholarly conventions Professor Richard James, Professor of Higher Education and former Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic and Undergraduate) and Deputy Provost
The maintenance of academic integrity involves high quality scholarly practices, the use of reputable sources of information and the full acknowledgement of the authors and creators of ideas and materials that have informed one’s work.
Ensuring academic integrity is vital to protecting the standards and esteem of The University of Melbourne’s degrees. Every student has an interest in protecting and supporting the good reputation of the University. Ethical practice in scholarly work and professional behaviour are recognised as important graduate attributes, and are an essential criterion of workplace professionalism. Academic integrity goes beyond the policing of university assessment and is part of a graduate's formation as a professional, underpinning their behaviour in the workplace, and reflecting on their personal honesty and integrity in all aspects of life.
It is important that all University of Melbourne students understand their responsibility to conduct themselves in an ethical manner in all aspects of their studies.
This website offers advice to students to support high standards of academic integrity and to highlight the nature of plagiarism - the copying of the work of others without acknowledgement - collusion, and poor scholarship.
The University of Melbourne actively promotes academic integrity in a number of ways.
- The Academic Board Regulation sets out the University’s definition of academic misconduct and the penalties applicable should an allegation of academic misconduct be upheld.
- The University has a student academic integrity policy
- Students are provided with resources, including this website, that explain in detail the standards of academic honesty that are expected. These resources are reinforced through the teaching and learning practices at Faculty, Department, and School levels, and utilised in a range of learning environments.
- The academic integrity module (AIM) is available to all University of Melbourne students to complete in the LMS. Working through the module will take approximately 15 minutes, and includes a self-assessment quiz to help consolidate an understanding of students’ responsibilities to conduct themselves in an ethical manner in all aspects of their studies.
- Students acknowledge that they will adhere to the terms and conditions, statutes, regulations, policies, procedures and guidelines of the University when they enrol.
- Students consent to their work being checked for plagiarism and collusion when they enrol in a subject.
- The University uses Turnitin text-matching software, a tool that helps to detect potential instances of plagiarism and collusion in assessment submissions.
What is academic misconduct?
When the standards of academic integrity are not maintained, this can result in student academic misconduct.
There are a number of unethical and unacceptable behaviours which fall into student academic misconduct including:
- Purchasing, commissioning, or selling essays or other assessment materials
- Forgery or falsification of documents (such as transcripts or medical) to gain academic advantage or advancement
- Copying or possession of unauthorised materials in examinations
- Falsification or misrepresentation of data.
In general, conduct which seeks to gain a student an unfair or unjustified advantage can be student academic misconduct.
This website delves deeper into two types of academic misconduct to highlight and promote the standards of academic integrity: Plagiarism and Collusion
What are plagiarism and collusion?
Plagiarism and collusion are forms of academic misconduct that can have serious consequences.
Presenting the work of another person as your own is plagiarism. Failing to properly acknowledge where the work or idea came from is dishonest and unacceptable. This applies to all written documents, interpretations, computer software, designs, music, sounds, images, photographs, and ideas that were created by someone else.
Collusion is when work presented as your own has been impermissibly developed with others. This is equally dishonest and unacceptable, unless you have been required to produce a shared piece of work with other students, or you are specifically permitted to work with others as part of the learning objectives for the assessment task. You may not present the work of someone else as your own, even with their permission. Both the student submitting the assessment and student(s) willingly supplying unauthorised material are considered participants in acts of collusion.
Good scholarship and forms of plagiarism
Practicing good scholarship and avoiding common forms of plagiarism where students have failed to acknowledge the source or ownership of particular words, or ideasSee more
Plagiarism investigation and penalties
The University of Melbourne has processes related to student discipline that are followed when a student is suspected of academic misconductRead more
Appropriate scholarly conduct and practices in online assessment
It is important for all students to understand their responsibilities for ethical scholarly practices.
The academic integrity declaration on exam and assessment tools
When it comes to online exams and assessment tools specifically, Academic integrity refers to students submitting scholarly work for assessment that represents their own original ideas and original work. The University of Melbourne expects the highest scholarly standards from students in all areas of their learning and assessment, as outlined in the Student Academic Integrity Policy.
By commencing and/or submitting this assessment I agree that I have read and understood the University’s policy on academic integrity.
I also agree that:
- Unless paragraph 2 applies, the work I submit will be original and solely my own work. A breach of this principle constitutes cheating.
- I will not seek or receive any assistance from any other person. A breach of this principle is collusion. The exception is where the work is for a designated collaborative task, in which case the individual contributions will be indicated.
- I will not use any sources without proper acknowledgement or referencing. Failure to do so is considered plagiarism.
- Where the work I submit is a computer program or code, I will ensure that:
- Any code I have copied is clearly noted by identifying the source of that code at the start of the program or in a header file or, that comments inline identify the start and end of the copied code
- Any modifications to code sourced from elsewhere will be commented upon to show the nature of the modification.
As a student of the University, you affirm and declare your understanding and compliance with academic integrity principles and requirements every time you attempt an online examination or assessment by agreeing to this declaration.
The University has a range of systems and processes in place to detect and investigate academic misconduct, such as plagiarism (including contract cheating) and collusion. For more information about academic misconduct and the range of penalties that may apply, please refer to penalties for academic misconduct - information for students.
Principles of good scholarship
Adopt good note-taking practices
When taking notes during semester and SWOTVAC, remember to:
- Record the source of the information to which you have referred. This will allow you to reference your source – including lecture slides and other resources provided by your subject coordinator – if you use those notes during your exam.
- Put the information in your own words or clearly mark if your notes are a direct quote from a source. Putting the information in your own words will help you develop and demonstrate your understanding of the material, and avoid inadvertent plagiarism.
Know what resources you may use in your exam
Most exams will be open-book, though the type and volume of resources – including prepared notes, the internet and communication technologies – you may refer to will differ from subject to subject. To ensure good scholarly practice in the exams, make sure you’re very clear on which resources you may and may not refer to before the day of each exam.
Only submit work that is your own
A common breach of academic integrity is collusion, which occurs when two or more students jointly develop answers to quiz questions, essays or other forms of assessment. This includes communicating with peers via online messaging platforms during an exam to discuss the exam questions and how to respond to them. Alternatively, collusion may occur inadvertently through preparing study notes with your peers and copying them in exams. Unless you are undertaking ‘take home exams’ for which group work is expected or required, remember to always submit work that is entirely your own and if a peer asks to share or collaborate on answers with you during an exam, say no.
Another common breach of academic integrity is plagiarism. This may occur accidentally by forgetting to attribute a source to an idea that is not your own e.g. forgetting to reference information copied from lecture slides or other resources provided by your subject coordinator. Plagiarism may also occur intentionally through, for instance, purchasing a ready-made essay from an online “tutoring" site. Both examples can be detected and are academic misconduct, so remember that all work submitted for assessment must be your own, and any ideas and information in your assessment that is not your own must be correctly referenced.
Resources to help you
To help you understand and apply the principles and practices of academic integrity, the following training and resources are available:
- Academic Integrity Module (AIM) - an online module in the LMS that takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. The module Includes a self-assessment quiz on your understanding of your responsibility for ethical academic conduct
- The Academic Skills website offers a range of resources and programs to help you refine your academic skills.
How does the University of Melbourne use Turnitin?
Turnitin is an online text-matching tool that works by comparing students' assignments to billions of pages of content located on the internet, in databases, and other students' submitted assignments. Turnitin is currently used by many universities in Australia and internationally. The University of Melbourne has been using Turnitin since 2004 and it is a valuable addition to existing methods for supporting the University's policy on academic honesty.
When student assignments are submitted into Turnitin, any sections of the papers that match other sources are highlighted and identified. A Similarity Report is made available to the staff member marking the assignment. Turnitin does not make a judgement regarding whether plagiarism has occurred. It identifies similarities between the assignment and other sources. These other sources include all published works such as books, journals, and online resources, as well as dissertations, theses, university assignments from previous semesters, and other students' assignments from the current semester. It is the responsibility of staff members to review the Similarity Report and to assess whether similarities identified by Turnitin may be considered as plagiarism
For more information on academic writing skills go to Academic Skills.
For more information about referencing correctly please see re:cite.
Below is a list of popular frequently asked questions around academic integrity at the University of Melbourne
What is intellectual property?
Intellectual Property (IP) is any artefact resulting from intellectual or creative effort (written or artistic work, inventions, commercial names and images) which may be owned by a person or organisation.
What is copyright?
Copyright is one form of IP and provides a range of rights that arise in relation to written material and other artistic and creative works including films and music. Copyright defines the rights of the owner of the intellectual property that exists in this material form. Copyright is a statutory form of intellectual property rights and arises from the relevant law in the country where the relevant work is created and also where it is being used (not always being the same). A good description of copyright in Australia can be found here.
Can I sell class notes or materials that have been provided by the University?
No. Any materials supplied to you by the University are the IP of the University. You cannot sell or distribute them. This includes downloaded PowerPoint slides even if you have made your own hand written notes on them.
Can I sell or share my assignments with other students?
No. This is an impermissible practice and must be avoided. Students will be penalised for doing this whether or not someone uses the material. The selling of your work is in breach of the provisions of the Academic Board Regulation. You can protect the integrity of your work by not sharing it with anyone else. This includes work in progress, drafts, annotated notes, etc, not just final submissions.
If I use words or materials from a Library resource that has copyright, is that plagiarism?
There are provisions in the Copyright Act that allow copyright material to be used without permission from the copyright owner, for example quoting a few lines or a paragraph from a book or journal article. Copyright law requires that you acknowledge any material that you use. It is important that you do not infringe copyright as copyright owners can take legal action against you. You can also be subject to action from the University.
Plagiarism occurs if you use information or someone else's ideas without acknowledgment, and is not necessarily the same as infringing copyright. If you express someone else's idea or information in your own words (paraphrase), you will not have infringed copyright. To avoid plagiarism and infringing copyright make sure that you:
Can I copy my own work from other assignments or subjects?
No, this is not permitted and is a form of academic misconduct. Copying from your own previous work is sometimes called self-plagiarism, recycling, duplication, or multiple submission of research findings. You cannot re-use any part of your work that has already been submitted for assessment without proper citation. For undergraduate students it is unlikely that your own work would be considered an appropriate source even if it was cited correctly.