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Academic Integrity Toolkit

The tools you need to help you succeed in university study

What is academic integrity?

‘Academic integrity’ describes the values held to be essential in university study in the UK. The five core values we work to at the University of Reading are:

  • Accuracy – making sure that your work is free from errors.
  • Honesty – being truthful about which ideas are your own and which are derived from others, and about the methods and results of your research.
  • Fairness – not trying to gain an advantage by unfair means: for instance, by passing off others’ work as your own.
  • Responsibility – taking an active role in your own learning: for instance, by seeking out the information you need to study effectively.
  • Respect – for your fellow students, your tutors, and the work of other scholars.


    (Adapted from International Center for Academic Integrity (2014), The Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity 2nd ed, online at https://academicintegrity.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Fundamental-Values-2014.pdf, accessed 27 July 2018.) 

What does this mean for my academic writing?

You practise academic integrity in your academic writing by working with the five values in mind, and particularly by using correct and accurate referencing. This shows that you can:

  • be accurate in transcribing details;
  • be honest about which ideas were derived from others;
  • act fairly by not taking credit for others’ work;
  • take responsibility by finding out what is required of you and how you should carry it out;
  • show respect for others by acknowledging the part they have played in building your knowledge and understanding.

What does this mean for other aspects of my studies at university?

The values of academic integrity will influence the way you work in all aspects of your studies at university. For instance:

  • When you take notes from your reading, or do practical research, you'll be demonstrating accuracy when you ensure that there are no errors which could invalidate the conclusions you are reaching, and that you have correctly represented the views of others.
  • When you're reading, you'll be showing you can work with honesty when you make sure that you always record the details of what you read so you can acknowledge the authors.
  • Fairness might be shown by not putting up barriers to others, for instance by or not talking during lectures or making sure they are included in seminar discussions.
  • You'll demonstrate that you can take responsibility by working out for yourself what you need to know to succeed in your subject and skills knowledge, and how and where you're going to find it.
  • Finally you would show respect for your fellow students when you include them and listen to their views during group work, but are careful to make sure that the work you submit under your own name is all your own work.

These are just a few examples, but you will see how academic integrity works in practice by bearing the values in mind as you carry out your studies at university.

How does this differ from what I did at school or college?

You may have used a simplified referencing system at school or college, with citations only given for direct quotes. At university, you need to give a citation whenever you refer to an idea that you derived from your reading. This is the case whether you use a direct quote, a paraphrase, or just a mention, and whether the idea came from a book, journal article, website or other source (published and unpublished). Essentially, if someone else had the idea first and you learnt about it from them, you need to give them an acknowledgement.

There are many different styles of referencing, and you will need to find out which one is used in your department and how to set out your citations and bibliographies. You will need to learn how to cite a variety of sources correctly, and get into the habit of doing this accurately and with attention to detail.

I haven't studied in the UK before. How might this differ from my previous experience?

In the UK, critical analysis and building new knowledge are key aims of academic study at university. This means you will be expected:

- to read widely, perhaps beyond what your tutors suggest, so you can gather a range of ideas;

- be critical by questioning everything you read and hear, even what you are told in lectures;

- and draw your own conclusions based on evidence and understanding.

You then need to support these in your writing by reference to what you have read, and to acknowledge the sources with correct citations.