TU Dublin is committed to further enhancing a culture amongst both staff and students that upholds Academic Integrity.
At is most basic ‘academic integrity is the commitment to and demonstration of honest and moral behaviour in an academic setting’. According to Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) it can be further defined as 'compliance with ethical and professional principles, standards, practices and consistent system of values, that serves as guidance for making decisions and taking actions in education, research and scholarship'.” QQI has produced a very helpful video clip to explain academic integrity further.
Academic integrity is everyone’s business within the university. This includes teaching staff, programme developers, professional support staff, librarians, international officers, quality advisors, senior managers, learners and their representatives.
Academic integrity is a corner stone in all relevant policies and procedures that are developed by this university and informed nationally including, but not exclusive to, programme development, monitoring and review, assessment, teaching and learning methodologies, feedback mechanisms, professional development programmes for staff, supports and training for learners, and information for external stakeholders.
A key component of academic integrity is assessment integrity, i.e., the principles of honest and trustworthy assessment, are upheld so that the learner undergoes a fair assessment of their learning to determine whether programme / module learning outcomes have been achieved. Conversely, academic misconduct has taken place when a learner has behaved in a way which undermines and corrupts the integrity of the assessment.
Any action or attempted action that undermines academic integrity and may result in an unfair academic advantage or disadvantage for any member of the academic community or wider society
In 2019 QQI established the National Academic Integrity Network (NAIN) to engage effectively with the challenges presented by academic misconduct. As a consequence, its aim is to embed a culture of academic integrity among providers, and to develop national resources and tools for providers to address the challenges presented by academic misconduct.
 The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill https://writingcenter.unc.edu/esl/resources/academic-integrity/ [Accessed 16 January 2023]
Academic misconduct can be either intentional or inadvertent. It can be committed in a variety of ways (including, but not exclusive, to the following):
- Submitting work as your own for assessment, which has, in fact, been done in whole or in part by someone else or submitting work which has been created artificially, e.g., by a machine or through artificial intelligence. This may be work completed for a learner by a peer, family member or friend or which has been produced, commercially or otherwise, by a third party for a pre-agreed fee (contracted);
- it may be work in which the learner has included unreferenced material taken from another source(s) (plagiarism);
- it may be use of a ghost writer to carry out assessed work which is then submitted as the learner’s own work;
- it may be using a previous assignment as submitted by a peer claiming it to be your work;
- it may be that references have been falsified to give credibility to the assignment and to show evidence of research;
- it may be a claim for authorship which is false;
- Cheating in exams (e.g., crib notes, copying, using disallowed tools, impersonation);
- Cheating in projects (e.g., collusion; using ‘essay mills’ to carry out the allocated part of the project);
- Selling or simply providing previously completed assignments to other learners; Misrepresenting research (e.g., data fabrication, data falsification, misinterpretation);
- Bribery, i.e., the offering, promising, giving, accepting or soliciting of an advantage as an inducement for an action;
- Falsification of documents;
- Improper use of technology, laboratories, or other equipment;
- Helping a peer to do their assignment which develops into the helper doing some or all of the assignment; and,
- Sharing or selling staff or institutional intellectual property (IP) with third parties without permission.
You can support academic integrity by:
- acknowledging where the information you use comes from, clearly citing or referencing the source
- sitting your own exams and submitting your own work
- accurately reporting research findings and abiding by research policies
- using information appropriately, according to copyright and privacy laws
- acting ethically or doing the 'right thing', even when you are facing difficulties.
If you are having problems that could affect your academic performance, it is best to speak to your lecturer or tutor or programme chair/co-ordinator.
A range of student behaviours can undermine academic integrity. Sometimes, students mistakenly believe that these behaviours are commonplace or don’t have consequences. This is wrong. Substantial penalties can apply for breaching academic integrity.
Submitting work that is not your own without acknowledging, citing or referencing the original source of the work, is known as plagiarism. It doesn’t matter whether you do this accidentally or on purpose, whether you change the words to make them your own or simply copy and paste. When you are using another person’s thoughts and ideas, you must reference the source material
Recycling or resubmitting work
Recycling involves submitting (or resubmitting) work that has already been assessed, without your teacher’s permission. For example, submitting a report that you were graded on in a first-year class as part of your work in a third-year class. If you want to build on your previous work, you should discuss this first with your teacher.
Fabrication involves making up information for research-focused assessment tasks, such as experimental or interview data. It can also include inventing sources of data, evidence or ideas by citing publications that are incorrect or that simply don’t exist.
Collusion involves engaging in illegitimate cooperation with one or more other students to complete assessable work. This is different to working on group assignments that are set by your teachers. Examples of illegitimate cooperation include working with a friend or group of friends to write an essay or report that is meant to be an individual piece of work. It can also include sharing quiz or test questions and answers with other students, as well as written assignments like reports and essays. Illegitimate cooperation can unfairly advantage a student or group of students over others. Students should also never share their work with others as there is a risk the person you share it with could upload it to an illegal commercial cheating service or circulate it to others.
Exam cheating which includes:
- writing ‘cheat notes’ on your body or materials you take into the exam room;
- attempting to copy from other students;
- communicating with other students or people outside the exam venue while the exam is in progress;
- using electronic devices to access information related to the exam while it is in progress;
- bringing prohibited items, such as unapproved calculators or textbooks into exams.
Contract cheating and impersonation
Contract cheating is a type of illegal commercial cheating. It involves getting someone else to complete part or all of your work and then submitting the work as if you had completed it yourself. This can include asking someone else to sit an exam for you or having them write an essay, report or some other kind of assignment, which is sometimes referred to as 'ghost-writing'.
Actions that support illegal contract cheating services are also considered breaches of academic integrity. This includes students uploading teaching materials such as practice exams, lecture slides and assignment questions to 'study notes'.
Identifying, avoiding and reporting illegal cheating services
Illegal commercial cheating services can include websites and individuals or groups that market or provide cheating services to students.
Illegal cheating services – sometimes also called contract cheating services – sell students essays or assignments, or accept payment for someone to sit exams on a student’s behalf.
Often, these services market themselves as offering ‘study support’. Many of these illegal operators will ask students to upload previous work or material from their course to access the advertised ‘support’.
Some of these illegal services market aggressively via social media, email and on campus. They can also find you through your social media posts. For example, a student may post on social media about an essay they are writing and then receive numerous ‘bot’ messages offering illegal commercial cheating services.
Avoiding illegal cheating services
Identifying illegal cheating services can sometimes be difficult but you should always avoid any service that:
- promises to help write or improve your essay or assignment or sit an exam on your behalf in exchange for money
- offers unsolicited ‘study support’ via social media, email or on-campus advertising
- asks you to upload a previous example of your work, or materials from your course, in order to receive help
- offers to sell you study notes, exams or other assessment materials.
Students experiencing study difficulties should always speak with their tutor or course coordinator. They can help you access study support options and also protect your academic integrity.
Remember, blocking unsolicited messages received via social media or email offering study support, essay writing or other contract cheating services can help you avoid illegal cheating services and maintain your academic integrity.
Be aware of the information you share on social media networks and consider your privacy settings. This may help you avoid being targeted by illegal cheating service operators.
Where to report a suspected commercial cheating service
To your university
If you receive email material promoting suspected illegal cheating services via your university email account, or see a suspected cheating site on your university’s network, report it to your School or contact the Academic Integrity Office [link needed]. You should also inform them if you see posters, notices or business cards on your campus promoting illegal cheating services.
In 2019 the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) (Amendment) Act provided a statutory basis for the prosecution of those who facilitate learner cheating. QQI is identified as the body responsible for bringing prosecutions under this section of the Act. You can contact them if you have concerns about academic integrity.
Students can face a range of penalties for breaching academic integrity, which is commonly referred to as ‘academic misconduct’ or ‘academic dishonesty’. It is often thought that students rarely get caught. Yet research shows that lecturers and institutions can detect breaches of academic integrity, and students doing the wrong thing do get caught. And ways of catching cheating are constantly improving.
Penalties for breaching academic integrity can include:
- having to repeat the assessment task or unit of study
- failing the assessment task, unit of study or course
- being expelled from your institution, which may impact your student visa
- facing criminal charges.
In addition to the risk of academic or criminal penalties, being found to have breached academic integrity can impact your relationships with other students, family and friends; impact your future career and cause you to suffer a financial loss or even lose your student visa.