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Academic Integrity & Plagiarism

Questions and Answers

I am under so much pressure to do well. If I don't have good grades in all my courses, my family will be disappointed. I don't want to cheat, but I'm just not that good in Math and don't know what to do. How can I be honest and still succeed? 

University can be tough, and it is quite common for students to struggle with at least some of their courses. We understand that family pressure can put a big burden on you, but please keep in mind that it is more important to have an honest grade, even if it is a bit lower, than a dishonest A. Talk to a Counsellor if you need emotional support and advice for dealing with your situation, and take advantage of the Learning Centre's tutoring services. Remember that you are not alone and that we are here to help you succeed in any way we can! 


Can I use an online tutoring service to help me improve my grades? 

BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL! Although there are legitimate tutoring services out there, many of them ask you to submit your course materials to their website (which is illegal) or provide you with direct answers (which is cheating) instead of guiding you to find the answers yourself (which would be proper tutoring). Oftentimes, these companies email students directly or put ads on Instagram, TikTok, or other social media platforms, pretending that they want to help you. They may also encourage you to join a "study group", but in reality they want you to purchase their services. Please don't fall for these tactics. We strongly recommend that you make use of KPU tutors who will assist you in an acceptable way, and who will help you improve your skills. 


My friend is taking a course that I took last year and wants me to give them my essay and/or exam questions. I feel under a lot of pressure to help, but I know that this would be cheating. What should I do?

Students are expected to do their own work. A friend should not put you in a position that asks you to go against your ethics. Also note, that if you did help, both of you would be committing an academic integrity violation, and both of you would be held responsible. Tell your friend that you don't want to compromise your integrity, and explain that only by doing the work yourself, will you actually learn and improve. Remind your friend of the KPU services that are available, such as help from tutors in the Learning Centre, librarians, and counsellors.  


I know that one of my classmates is paying someone to do their work. They are calling me stupid for not doing it too, but I want to get my degree honestly. I think it is unfair that I do all the work and they don't, but I don't want to be a snitch. What should I do?

Students who pay someone to do their work are committing the strongest form of Academic Integrity violation possible, and their actions do not deserve being protected in any way. You should not feel guilty to report these students as their behaviour is highly unethical, extremely unfair to honest students and it damages the reputation of the university. Don't worry, your name will be kept confidential if you report this behaviour. Please contact your instructor and/or the Deans Office if you have legitimate reasons to believe a fellow student is committing an academic integrity violation, especially if it is of this magnitude.


My English is not that great yet. Can my friend help me write my paper?

No. You are expected to write and submit your own, original work. It is never acceptable to get unauthorized help from others to write your paper. This is known as collusion and is a form of plagiarism. You can, however, talk to your friend, and they may point out errors or weaknesses in your writing, but they cannot tell you what to write, rewrite or write any part of your paper for you. To avoid using unauthorized help, it is best to ask for help from tutors in the Learning Centre. These tutors are trained to assist you in an acceptable way.


I think it's unfair that I am accused of plagiarism. In my home country, using someone else's work is a sign of respect, and I don't need to credit them if they are well known because everyone knows who I'm talking about. How am I supposed to know that this is plagiarism here and such a big deal?

Unfortunately, this is not an excuse. You are responsible to familiarize yourself with academic expectations and make use of the resources available to you to get an understanding of the issue, such as KPU policies and procedures, this subject guide, the Academic Integrity Tutorial, and our citation style guides. You also should ask for help if needed, such as from librarians or tutors in the Learning Centre. 


I have to give an oral presentation for my English class. Do I still need to cite the sources I used? 

Yes, you do! It doesn't matter which format you use. Whether you submit an essay, give an oral presentation, give a presentation with PPT slides, create a video or a webpage, or create an output in any other format, you will always need to cite any sources from which you borrowed information. For an oral presentation (in person or in a live online class), you may want to mention the sources verbally and list them on a handout (which you can post to your Moodle site). For online presentations, you may want to include in-text references at the bottom of a slide or video and put the full citations in a reference list at the end. For a webpage, include in-text citations as usual, and put the list of references at the bottom of the page. 


I am supposed to have at least 10 reference sources, but I only found 8. My sources cite other important sources that I haven't read, but I basically know about them, because they mention their main ideas. Is it ok if I put two of these sources in my reference list although I didn't actually read them? 

No. In order to include a source in the reference list, you must have actually read it (or at least scanned through it and extracted what you need from it). If you just add sources to your reference list, without actually having consulted them, you are giving the impression that you have done a lot of research, when you have not. This is deceptive, and listing a source in the reference list without a reference to it in the text, is also a case of plagiarism. 


Do I have to reference sources that are not published?

Yes, you have to cite ALL your sources of information, except what is considered common knowledge. So, if you are getting information from your parents, siblings, friends or anyone else or from an unpublished document (like a letter or a memo), you will still need to cite your source. 


Do I have to provide a reference in the text if I change all the ideas into my own words?

Yes, you absolutely have to! Any time you take information or ideas from someone else, you must indicate that this other person is the ‘owner’ of these ideas, and you have to do so by adding a citation. 


How much of the original text do I have to change when paraphrasing so I won't be accused of plagiarism?

A paraphrase is roughly about the same length as the original, but there is no specific percentage of words that you need to change to make it your own. Important is that you understand the content, so you can rewrite it completely in your own words.  Remember that just changing a few words here and there and simply rearranging the sentences is NOT proper paraphrasing and may be considered plagiarism, even if you cite your source. 


I made an honest mistake and accidentally forgot to put quotation marks around my quote in the text, but I put an in-text citation with it and also a full citation in the list of sources. Is this still plagiarism?

Yes, actually it is, although this is a more minor case of plagiarism. When you present someone else's exact words, you must indicate this by using quotation marks around them; otherwise the reader thinks these are your words.


I couldn't remember where the references should go in my text, but I put the source information in the reference list, so that isn't plagiarism, right?

Unfortunately it is. If you don't indicate in the text that words or ideas are someone else's, the reader will think they are yours. Be very careful when taking notes during your research, and write down details for all the information you collected.