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3 Tips for Turning Academic Integrity into a Habit

October 12, 2018 — 

The following article is published as part of the Academic Integrity Initiative, featuring the writing of University of Manitoba faculty, staff and students.

October is Academic Integrity Month! Visit our website for more information on events, and follow us on Twitter

Academic integrity can be defined as the practice of maintaining an honest ethic in our academic and work practices as scholars. In my conversations with peers, I have gathered that when most people think of academic integrity, they think of plagiarism. But does it end there?

Professor Charron, a professor in the Political Studies department, says: “Academic integrity is a habit you need.” If academic integrity is a habit, then anyone can develop and excel at it.

My first introduction to academic integrity was in high school in Zambia, where there is a strict emphasis on the repercussions of academic misconduct.

I would describe my introduction to academic integrity at the University of Manitoba as the submerged part of an iceberg. I heard many terms such as academic dishonesty, academic fraud, and duplicate submission. But what does this all mean? I began to think about how I could avoid finding myself in any of these situations.

For example, have you ever found yourself in a situation where you are given plenty of time to complete a task, but in the midst of life’s demands you realize time has flown by and the due date is around the corner?

I have found myself in that situation and so many others have too. Here are three tips I have found helpful:

1) Start assignments on time. If you begin working on your assignments on time you can spare yourself the panic of trying to get a month-long task done within a couple of days. In starting early, you can do the assignment in sections, get enough time to read and reread, and make crucial changes. Also, this can prevent resorting to duplicate submission (submitting the same assignment more than once) or inappropriate collaboration (working with others on an assignment intended to be independent).

2) Thoroughly read through course material. This will save you from having to rush through writing a paper or doing last minute research. It helps you write with ease and ensures that your ideas are coherent. Furthermore, when you spend time researching through analyzing the relevant sources for an assignment, it is unlikely you will end up forgetting to give credit to another author’s ideas.

3) When in doubt. ask questions. Sometimes we like to convince ourselves we don’t need help, but asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Instead, it is a sign that you are willing to learn and do your best. Our professors want to help us to excel, so when in doubt, ask them about course expectations and assignments. The Libraries and Academic Learning Centre are other great places to ask questions outside the classroom. Asking the right people helps us maintain honesty and know our responsibilities.

Just remember: Time is everything; read thoroughly; ask always. Academic integrity is a reflection of your personal values with regards to your work.

Chishimba Ngulube is a political studies student at the University of Manitoba. She also serves as an Academic Integrity Ambassador and student leader. 

October is Academic Integrity Month. To learn more about the events and activities happening on campus, visit the Academic Integrity website.

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