Academic Honesty & Integrity

Academic honesty and integrity are the foundation of educational institutions. "Without maintenance of high standards of honesty, members of the instructional faculty are defrauded, students are unfairly treated, and society itself is poorly served" (UNC Charlotte, 2009). Instructors are primarily responsible for maintaining and enforcing academic honesty and integrity. "Students are obligated not to violate the basic standards of integrity, and they are expected to take an active role in encouraging other members to respect those standards" (UNC Charlotte, 2009). These policies are laid out clearly for students in the Code of Student Academic Integrity.

Plagiarism and cheating are the most common types of academic dishonesty. UNC Charlotte (2009), defines plagiarism as "intentionally or knowingly presenting the work of another as one's own (i.e., without proper acknowledgment of the source)" while cheating is defined as "intentionally using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, notes, study aids or other devices in any academic exercise".



What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the act of copying someone else’s work, borrowing someone else’s ideas, or reusing your own ideas verbatim. According to Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (2010), to plagiarize means to

  • steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own
  • use (another production) without crediting the source
  • commit literary theft : present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.

Plagiarism exists in many forms. “It may involve computer programs and files, research designs, distinctive figures of speech, ideas and images, or generally any ‘information’ which belongs to another” (UNC Charlotte, 2009). In’s article, What is Plagiarism (n.d), plagiarism is identified as

  • turning in someone else's work as your own,
  • copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit,
  • failing to put a quotation in quotation marks,
  • giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation,
  • changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit,
  • copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not (see our section on "fair use" rules).

Avoiding Plagiarism

The best way to avoid plagiarism is to simply “give credit, when credit is due.” Provide proper citation in both oral and written works when using

  • another person’s idea, opinion, or theory;
  • any facts, statistics, graphs, drawings—any pieces of information—that are not common knowledge;
  • quotations of another person’s actual spoken or written words; or
  • paraphrase of another person’s spoken or written words (Indiana University, 2004).

Consequences of Plagiarism

Plagiarism is a form of academic integrity and “violate standards essential to the existence of an academic community” (UNC Charlotte, 2009). Violators will be penalized for plagiarizing. The penalty varies depending on severity and may include a combination of the following in accordance with the UNC Charlotte academic integrity policy:

  1. a formal warning,
  2. a reduced grade (including "F" if undergraduate student and "U" for graduate student) for the assignment,
  3. a reduced grade (including "F" if undergraduate student and "U" for graduate student) for the entire course. For more information on plagiarism at UNC Charlotte, please visit the Academic Policy.

Detecting Plagiarism

Tools such as VeriCite can allow students and faculty to detect plagiarism. VeriCite is plagiarism prevention system that makes it easy to identify students who submit unoriginal work. It acts as a powerful deterrent to stop plagiarism before it starts. More information on VeriCite can be found on CTL's Vericite information page.


Indiana University. (2004). Plagiarism: what it is and how to recognize and avoid it.

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. (2010). Plagiarize. (n.d). What is plagiarism?

UNC Charlotte. (2009). University Policy 407: The code of student academic integrity.