Defining Integrity

A campus with integrity promotes academic rigour, collaborative learning and meaningful research. It gives credit where credit is due. It provides a foundation for learning and prepares students for responsible citizenship.

How we define integrity

Honesty. Trust. Fairness. Respect. Responsibility. Courage. These six values are the cornerstones of academic integrity. Identified by the International Center for Academic Integrity and adopted by MacEwan University, these values offer a positive and practical view of integrity.

When students take care to cite essays carefully, to complete coursework independently and to take responsibility—even during the most demanding times in the term—they are behaving with integrity. When faculty make a commitment to teach students about the importance of a values-driven education, they are contributing to a culture of integrity on campus.


How we define misconduct

Imagine finding out that your family doctor cheated on her final exams at med school, your teacher submitted an online essay as if it was his own or the engineer who designed the new bridge in your neighbourhood lied about her credentials. These examples of misconduct may seem a bit extreme, but they help us understand the significance of smaller infractions, too. Simply put—a degree or diploma has little meaning if it is obtained by a student who engages in academic misconduct.

Learn about the types of academic misconduct described in the policy. Then read the sample scenarios to see if you can identify academic misconduct.


Cheating is defined in the policy as copying the work of others and the use, or attempted use, of unauthorized notes, information, materials, study aids or devices in any academic exercise or activity.

Avoiding cheating

I’ve finished writing my exam and am about to hand it in when I receive an incoming text on my phone. I’m meeting a friend after the exam, so I quickly check to see if it is him. My instructor sees me look at my phone with my exam still in hand. When I hand in my exam, my instructor lets me know that she believes I cheated. She asks to look at my phone. I show it to her, but I have already returned to my home screen. She says that after the rest of the students finish the exam, she will follow-up with me by email. Have I cheated according to MacEwan’s Policy?

Yes. Your instructor has no way of knowing what you were looking at on your phone. You could have been looking up answers for the exam in an attempt to gain an unfair advantage. Looking at your phone before you hand in your exam provides an opportunity for cheating to occur, so this action violates the policy. In an exam setting, turn off your phone and keep it out of arm’s reach until you leave the room.


Plagiarism is the use and submission of another’s words, ideas, results, work or processes without providing appropriate acknowledgement.

Avoiding plagiarism

When I was writing a research paper, I found the exact information I was looking for on a website. I paraphrased the content, putting it into my own words. Since I did not directly quote anyone, I did not include citations or references in my paper. Is this okay?

No, this is not okay. This is a clear case of unintentional plagiarism. Even though you did not plagiarize on purpose, you have still violated the Academic Integrity policy.


In a group work assignment, my classmates and I worked hard to create a fun, engaging and informative PowerPoint presentation. We used graphs, charts and visuals to break the text. We included a reference sheet for the written content, but we did not attribute the visuals to their original sources. Is this plagiarism?

Yes. Visual information, like textual information, must always be attributed properly, so the audience can trace the information to the original source. Without attribution, the audience, including the instructor, will probably not be able to distinguish between your original work and the work of others. Always cite your sources on every slide.

Improper collaboration

Improper collaboration refers to the inappropriate sharing of work on an assignment that was intended as an individual assignment and when students work together in groups beyond the degree of permissible collaboration set out by an instructor.

Avoiding improper collaboration

Last year, my roommate took a course that I’m taking this year, so I always ask her to look over my assignments and homework before I hand them in. Is this okay? OR Some friends and I get together to study and work on assignments. When my instructor assigned an individual assignment, I decided I would still ask my friends to give me feedback, but I wouldn’t ask them to correct or rewrite anything. Is this okay?

Maybe—in both cases. Generally speaking, you are expected to complete assignments and homework without outside help, especially on individual assignments. However, the way that instructors approach collaboration differs; they determine how much collaboration to allow on each assignment based on what they want to assess or have you achieve. Before you ask for help from your roommates or work in a group, it is your responsibility to ask your instructor how much help or collaboration is acceptable. You can’t just assume it’s okay to get help.

This does not mean that you can’t study with your friends or ask someone for help, but on coursework that contributes to your grade, such as exams, homework and assignments, your instructor might want to know what you can do without outside help.

Contract cheating

Contract cheating is a form of severe academic misconduct consisting of outsourcing or attempting to outsource academic work to a third party.

Avoiding contract cheating

Doing research for an essay I am writing, I saw an ad for a service where I can pay someone to write a custom paper for me. Is that OK?

Absolutely not! Submitting academic work as if it is your own when it has been completed by someone else is called contract cheating and is considered severe academic misconduct, and automatically leads to a hearing with more serious consequences such as an F in the course or the requirement to withdraw.

Fabrication and falsification

Fabrication and falsification refer to falsifying or altering information; fabricating or counterfeiting information for use in an academic exercise, or to gaining unfair academic advantage, except in creative writing type exercises.

Avoiding fabrication and falsification

When I got really sick in the middle of the semester, I missed an important assignment deadline. After the assignment due date, I went to the doctor’s office to get a doctor’s note. I changed the date on the note so that my instructor would think that I got the note before the assignment was due. I thought that stretching the truth would be better than taking a zero on the assignment. Did I violate the Academic Integrity policy?

Yes. It’s unfortunate that you got sick at a time when a major assignment was due. However, changing the date on an official document is considered severe misconduct according to the policy, not simply a matter of “stretching the truth.” Speaking with your instructor in person is an appropriate alternative strategy.

Helping, or attempting to help, another student commit academic misconduct 

Avoiding misconduct

A friend from my English class asked to borrow my essay to see how I organized it. I sent her an electronic copy so she could see my approach. Is this a violation of MacEwan's Academic Integrity policy?

Maybe. If this is an individual assignment and any of the content from your essay ends up in your friend's essay, a violation has occurred. Even if you did not realize your friend was going to use your information inappropriately, it is your responsibility to protect the integrity of your work. In this case, when you sent her the electronic copy, you gave up control over how your work might be used by another student.

I am a strong student and a real believer in the importance of community. To help other students, I decided to post my lecture notes and a research paper that I aced on a note-sharing website. Is this a violation of MacEwan’s Academic Integrity policy?

Maybe (notes) and yes (research paper). If the notes you post do not contain photos of instructors’ notes or verbatim passages from their lectures or slides, it is okay to post them on note-sharing sites. Posting your own notes is not an academic integrity offense. This is your own work and you can choose to share it with others. It is your responsibility, though, to make sure you are not posting anything that is not entirely yours. If you do want to include an instructor’s notes along with your own, ask for permission first. Including notes that aren’t your own could be copyright infringement. Posting a research paper, marked assignment, answer key or exam is an offense. Even though these items might be your own work, you are not “taking reasonable precautions to prevent [your] work from being used by others” (Academic Integrity Policy, This is considered assisting others in gaining an unfair advantage and violates the Academic Integrity policy.

Obtaining an unfair advantage

This type of misconduct occurs when you gain or attempt to gain an unfair advantage not afforded to all students in an authorized fashion.

Avoiding obtaining an unfair advantage

I think my instructor made a mistake marking my exam, so I ask to meet with her to go over it. Before the meeting I notice a few mistakes I made because I was in a hurry, not because I didn’t know the answer, so I correct them. Did I violate the Academic Integrity policy?

Yes. Unless you have explicit permission to revise or change an answer or assignment, tampering with exams or assignments after they’ve been marked is a form of attempting to gain an unfair advantage and violates the Academic Integrity policy.

Multiple submissions

It is a violation of the Academic Integrity policy to submit the same academic work in multiple courses without permission of the faculty member(s).

Avoiding multiple submissions

I am writing a research essay on “The Yellow Wallpaper” for my English class. Luckily for me, I did some research on mental illness for a psychology class last term. I’m going to cut and paste sections from that paper into my English paper. It’s my property, and I already did the research, so I think this is acceptable. Is this a violation of the Academic Integrity policy?

Yes. Making connections between course content and building on prior knowledge is a good thing—and a key part of a post-secondary learning. However, copying and pasting work completed in one course to an assignment in another course violates the Academic Integrity policy. The work you produce in each course must be original; otherwise, you have an unfair advantage over your peers. Sometimes, instructors allow students to use prior research as a way to begin an assignment. If you want to use this strategy, you must ask your instructor before proceeding.

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Student Academic Integrity

Understand the regulations governing academic integrity. Learn about our commitment to fostering honesty, fairness and ethical behaviour through prevention and education.