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Developing good academic practice
Developing good academic practice

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1.4 Inappropriate academic practice

Poor to inappropriate academic practice takes many forms. It can range from the consequence of not understanding what is required at this level of study, or not having the confidence in your own abilities, to out-and-out intentional fraud.

For example, poor academic practice could be the result of the following scenarios.

  • A student finds they do not have sufficient time to answer an assignment properly and decides to ‘borrow’ (i.e. copy) some words or sections from a book, website or colleague. This is plagiarism.
  • A student lacking confidence in their English skills believes that whatever they write will never be as good as the material in their course book or from other sources. They decide it is better to copy it out than try to write an answer in their own words. This is plagiarism.
  • A student gets a friend or family member to answer an assignment question for them because they have expertise in this area and so will get better marks than if the student tries to do it themselves. This is still plagiarism, but it is also intentional fraud.
  • A student comes across the ‘right answer’ to part of their assignment on a website, and cuts and pastes this into their assignment. This is intentional plagiarism.
  • A student doesn’t quite understand what they have to do to answer one of their assignment questions but has found the relevant section in their course book. They copy out the section but change a few of the connecting words, change the order of a couple of sentences and add in another couple of examples to make it their own work. This is plagiarism.

All these scenarios are examples of plagiarism and show a lack of academic integrity. Because the words submitted by the student did not originate from them – they are all the words of other people – their work gives a false impression of the student’s own academic ability.

Of course you can use a range of materials as helpful sources, but the words used in the assignment need to be your own and must reflect your understanding. To understand more about writing in your own words, look at the section, ‘Writing in your own words’.