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Academic Integrity Guide for Students

Academic Integrity FAQs

1) What is academic integrity?

2) What consequences exist for academic dishonesty at CBU?

3) Why is plagiarism a serious offence at CBU?

4) How do I avoid plagiarism?

5 What sources have to be cited?

6) What information qualifies as common knowledge?

7) May my classmates and I work together on an assignment?

8) Where can I go for more help?


1) What is academic integrity?

Academic integrity is the ethical commitment to honest and responsible behaviour in all aspects of academic life. This includes the submitting of original assignments and giving proper credit to all sources consulted. As a university student, it is your responsibility to maintain this integrity, as well as familiarize yourself with CBU’s policies on academic dishonesty.

2) What consequences exist for academic dishonesty at CBU?

The "Ethical Behaviour in Academic Matters" section of the CBU Academic Calendar outlines the policies and procedures followed in response to suspected plagiarism and other academic offences. If you are found to have committed plagiarism or another offence, a penalty will be assigned. The maximum penalty for the first offence being a zero on the assignment. A second plagiarism offence will result in a zero in the course in which the plagiarism took place, or possibly discontinuation from CBU. A third plagiarism offence will result in discontinuation from CBU.

3) Why is plagiarism a serious offense at CBU?

CBU’s academic calendar defines plagiarism as, “the act of representing the intellectual work of others as one’s own.” Although it is necessary to consult various sources of information, you must always acknowledge these sources according to the accepted practices of your discipline.

Plagiarism can be deliberate or unintentional but is still a serious offense regardless of your intent. Deliberate plagiarism includes buying an assignment; submitting the same assignment more than once; or stealing the work of others. Unintentional plagiarism usually involves improper citation when quoting or paraphrasing. This form of plagiarism can be avoided through the use of proper citation style.

Plagiarism can severely impact not only your own academic reputation, but also the credibility of research and scholarship at CBU. Furthermore, plagiarism deprives the student of the full value of their education; violates the right of ownership of the original author; and deprives instructors of the ability to review the research used in preparing an assignment.

4) How do I avoid plagiarism?

The best method for avoiding plagiarizing another in your own work is by properly citing the sources you use by referencing throughout the body of the paper and bibliographic citations in the reference list. Guides to help with citing can be found through Purdue University’s OWL.   This Preventing Plagiarism link provides strategies you may want to incorporate when writing your paper. 

To make your life easier, consider citing your sources as you go. This can save you a lot of time and help you better organize your research. A number of online tools such as Zotero can help you keep track of sources and format citations and reference lists.

5) What sources have to be cited?

Any borrowed material, including: words, ideas, data, statistics, graphics and any other intellectual matter, whether drawn from print, electronic, or other non-print sources must be fully acknowledged according to the citation style required by your professor.  All outside sources, except for common knowledge, must be cited. When in doubt, cite!  

6) What information qualifies as common knowledge?

Common knowledge includes facts and other information that are widely known and can be found in many sources. In most cases, common knowledge does not need to be cited. However, students should exercise caution as there is no definitive boundary as to what constitutes common knowledge.
When in doubt, cite!

7) May my classmates and I work together on an assignment?

Depending on the course or the nature of the assignment working together on assignments may or may not be acceptable. When in doubt, ask your instructor. Whenever collaboration occurs, you should always acknowledge it in your assignment.

8) Where can I go for more help?

If you have any questions in regards to proper citation or avoiding plagiarism, your professor will be able to provide guidance. You may also wish to speak with a librarian in the CBU Library, or consult with CBU’s Writing Centre. Purdue University’s OWL is an excellent web resource that may help you with the citation process.

Just what is plagiarism???

In its academic calendar, Cape Breton University defines plagiarism as, “the act of representing the intellectual work of others as one's own.”

Plagiarism is a serious academic offense and CBU advises:

When a student submits work for a course, it is assumed that the work is original, except where the student properly acknowledges the use of other sources. Of course, good scholarship often requires drawing on the work of others, but any borrowed material - including words, ideas, data, statistics, graphics and other intellectual matter, whether drawn from print, electronic, or other non-print sources - must be fully acknowledged according to the accepted practices of the relevant discipline.

The following policy applies equally to all forms of materials submitted in all courses. These materials include, but are not limited to, assignments, essays, compositions, theses, creative writing, reports, reviews, lab reports, projects, computer programs, experimental data, drawings, charts, plans, musical compositions and works of art. This policy applies without regard to the weight assigned to the item plagiarized within the course instructor's grading formula for the course.

Course instructors must report instances of plagiarism to the relevant dean who will then register the offense and any pertinent comments in the student's academic file.  Access to this information will be restricted to persons occupying confidential positions in the CBU Deans' offices and the Office of the Registrar. On receiving a report of plagiarism, the dean will consult the student's academic file to ascertain the appropriate action to be taken. In all cases, a copy of the letter sent to the student will also be sent to the course instructor.