Academic integrity

When you start university, the importance of not plagiarising or colluding will be emphasised, as these are considered bad academic practices, meriting investigation for academic misconduct. If that sounds scary, don’t worry. Reading this guide, and others in the preparing for university series, will help to ensure you understand, and are able to apply, good academic practices. In doing so, unintentional plagiarism or collusion is unlikely to occur.

Taking time to evolve good academic practices as soon as you start your studies means your confidence in this area will increase.

Plagiarism and collusion

Adopting good academic practices will mean you can meet the wider expectations of academic integrity, which will be discussed later. For now, it is helpful to briefly explore what plagiarism and collusion mean, particularly if these are unfamiliar terms.

Avoiding ‘the unintentional’

Few students deliberately set out to cheat, but sometimes bad academic practices can occur accidentally by:

  • Not being realistic about the time needed to work on assignments: Rushing to meet a deadline can result in shortcuts, such as failing to check that all references are in place. This is one of the reasons for thinking carefully how you plan and organise your time (see our guide on planning and organising your time)
  • Taking poor approaches to note-making: For example, forgetting to note references to sources can lead to plagiarism, so developing effective note-making strategies is critical (see our guide on active note-making strategies)
  • Not being fully aware of the expectations of university study: Therefore, the remaining part of this guide explores good academic practices and why academic integrity is important.

Good academic practices and understanding academic integrity

As suggested above, awareness of good academic practices – the expectations and standards required of any work you produce – should help to eliminate any occurrence of plagiarism or collusion.

The avoiding ‘the unintentional’ section above already hints at some good practices, such as allowing enough time to work on your assignments and recognising the value of good note-making.

To understand good academic practices, it is helpful to explore the concept and values of academic integrity.

Key takeaways

  • Developing good academic practices by embracing the values of academic integrity when working on assessments will help you to thrive at university
  • Furthermore, the same values of respect, honesty, responsibility, trust and fairness are highly valued by employers and in life beyond university
  • Wherever you have previously studied (such as in the UK or abroad), familiarise yourself with the referencing expectations of your course once you start
  • To develop your confidence with academic integrity, follow up the suggestions made in the columns above.


  • International Center for Academic Integrity (2017) The Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity. Available at: (Accessed: 21 May 2021)
  • Morris, E. (2011) ‘Graduate Impact, student employability and academic integrity: exploring the links’, in Atfield, R. and Kemp, P. (eds), Enhancing Graduate Impact in Business, Management, Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism. Newbury: Threshold Press, pp.1-8.

What next?

Understanding the importance of academic integrity will start you off on the right track at University, but applying good academic practices will evolve as you develop as a confident, active learner; see guide 6. Making the most of your University learning experience.