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Academic Integrity

Academic Integrity means being honest within the scholarly environment. It means that you have earned your degree!

For example, those who respect academic integrity DO NOT:

  • cheat during a test or exam
  • have another student do their work for them and then hand it in as their own
  • hand in identical work to different courses
  • fabricate evidence or lie
  • plagiarize


Plagiarism is the failure to acknowledge your sources.

When writing a paper, you must give credit where credit is due. There are several bibliographic citation formats (e.g. A.P.A., M.L.A.) that can be employed to assist you with this task. Any research article will reveal numerous citations. It is understood that human knowledge is a cumulative process and that we learn from one another. Even the experts must cite one another! No one is exempt!


As noted in the University of Ontario Institute of Technology Academic Integrity Policy (ACD 1509), plagiarism is a form of academic misconduct and can result in severe penalties. For more information on the Misconduct Process and other guidelines, see the Ontario Tech Academic Integrity website.

Within an educational setting, plagiarism may lead to severe academic penalties such as a failing grade, suspension, expulsion, the revoking of a degree or refusal of admission to a professional body. Within the business world, people have lost their jobs and their credibility because they have plagiarized. In Canada, the Copyright Act and Intellectual Property Office protect the rights of creators.

Common Myths

The Library tries to teach students to uphold Academic Integrity by avoiding Plagiarism.  The Citation & Writing section contains additional information on citation styles and handbooks (MLA, APA, IEEE, McGill), citing Indigenous sources and writing annotated bibliographies.

If I acknowledge all my sources, my paper will just be a string of citations. It won't look like I've thought of anything on my own and I'll get a failing grade anyway.

WRONG: First, you don't need to cite common knowledge (e.g. Milk is a good source of calcium), but when in doubt it is better to "over cite" than not at all. Secondly, working independently, no two people will interpret their sources in exactly the same way, select the exact same quotations or paraphrase with identical words. How you consolidate information and relay conclusions based on your sources is what makes you and your resulting paper unique.

Just the process of assimilating information, however, can be overwhelming! It's best to have a plan; this will keep you focused and will help you resist the temptation to plagiarize in a moment of frustration. Review the Library's helpful hints on the Research Process. There are six steps - Get Started; Understanding Information Sources; Access & Find; Search Strategies; Evaluate & Analyse; and Present & Cite. Developing an effective thesis statement or a brief summary of your point of view on a topic is the first step in avoiding plagiarism. You are showing that you can assimilate and interpret information by taking a "stand". Citing others is then simply part of the process of validating your argument.

If I change the words around or use similar terms (synonyms e.g. automobile rather than car), there is no need to provide a citation. I'm not quoting the author.

WRONG: What you are doing is paraphrasing. While you are not using the exact same words in the exact same order, you are relaying the author's idea as your own.

If I can't find the name of the person who wrote the text, then I don't have to provide a citation. You can't credit someone who you don't know exists.

WRONG: First, an author does not have to be one or more specific persons. An author can be a company, government body, charitable group or any other organization. Secondly, if you can't find a name, the rules of citation explicitly state that acknowledgement must be done using the information that has been provided (e.g. title, date, page numbers).

Only paper sources have to be cited because they are stable and last a long time. For example, the Internet changes on a daily basis with web sites being updated constantly; once a radio broadcast is aired, it is "over"; whatever is said in class "disappears into thin air". There is no need to cite sources that are "here today and gone tomorrow".

WRONG: The medium is irrelevant. It is simply the vehicle for relaying words and ideas. The author still must be credited.

These are just a few common myths Be sure to follow your professor's instructions and follow an approved bibliographic citation guide to ensure that you do not get "caught" by any of the misconceptions surrounding plagiarism.

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