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Definitions and Examples of Academic Integrity, Cheating, and Plagiarism

The ISU catalog states that “Academic integrity is expected of all individuals in academe. Behavior beyond reproach must be the norm. Academic dishonesty in any form is unacceptable.” But you may well ask as an ISU student, “What exactly is academic integrity, and how do I make sure I am observing it?”

In short, academic integrity means being honest in an academic setting. For students, this means that the work you submit for your courses reflects your own efforts, and when you borrow from the efforts of others, you give them credit. The integrity of your degree, and indeed, of the University as a whole, depends upon faculty and students subscribing to these values. As the International Center for Academic Integrity puts it, “Integrity creates a foundation for success in all our endeavors.”

Violations of academic integrity fall into two main categories: cheating and plagiarism.

  • Cheating: ISU defines cheating as “using or attempting to use material, information, or study aids that are not permitted by the instructor in examinations or other academic work.” Forms of cheating include sharing or receiving information about exams or assignments from others if this kind of exchange is not allowed by the instructor; taking an exam or completing an assignment for another person, or asking that person to do so for you; submitting the same work for more than one class without the expressed permission of the instructor; and fabricating information for an assignment and not labeling it as such.
  • Plagiarism: ISU defines plagiarism as “representing another person’s words, ideas, data, or work as one’s own.” Examples include duplicating another person’s work or incorporating parts of it without citation. To avoid plagiarism, you should always use quotation marks around language you have borrowed verbatim; if you refer to the ideas of another without reproducing exact language, you should still give the person’s name according to an accepted citation style to acknowledge what you have borrowed. Giving credit in this way enhances your credibility rather than diminishes it. It shows fairness to your source and demonstrates your own professional behavior at the University.

The best way to avoid violations in integrity, either through cheating or plagiarism, is to always commit to doing your own work. Some habits that will aid you in this endeavor include

  • completing your work well before deadlines, avoiding last-minute rushes when people are tempted to cut corners
  • examining the tutorials provided below by ISU’s Oboler Library  to hone your skills for giving proper credit in citations
  • asking questions when you’re unsure about ethical behavior on one of your assignments, contacting your instructor before you turn the work in, not after.