Academic Integrity

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is defined by the University as: acting with the values of honesty, respect, trust, responsibility and support in learning, teaching, and research. A breach of academic integrity is any act that is contrary to these values. 

Types of Academic Integrity Breaches

The following is a quick reference guide to the different types of breaches* included in the University Academic Integrity Policy (Schedule 2)

*Please note that these breach types are not mutually exclusive.

Breach Type Definition
Cheating Any attempt to dishonestly give or obtain assistance from another person, material, or device in an academic exercise. 
Contract-cheating Having another person or entity conceive, research or write material for an assignment and submitting the work as one’s own, irrespective of whether the other person or entity was paid for the material.
Collusion Unauthorised collaboration in producing an academic exercise that is designated as an individual task.
Deception Providing false or misleading information to the University.
Fabrication Forge or falsify any information or citation in an academic exercise or report false or misleading results or conclusions of any research.
Impersonation Is pretending or assuming another person’s identity or using a substitute person for the purposes of providing an advantage.
Obstruction Intentionally impeding or interfering with another person’s academic activity.
Plagiarism Adopting or reproducing the work or ideas of another person, whether intentionally or not, and presenting this as one’s own without clearly acknowledging the source of the work or ideas.
Sabotage Acting to prevent or hinder another person from completing an academic exercise to the best of their abilities including by making information or material unavailable to others or disrupting or interfering with an academic exercise, experiments, research or other academic activity of any other person.
Self-plagiarism Unacknowledged use of material you have previously published or submitted.


Why is Academic Integrity Important?

It is worthwhile to consider the different types of harm that can be potentially caused by breaches of academic integrity, as this can provide insight into areas that can be shortlisted for potential intervention. The categories of harm can be divided into three broad areas, as follows:

1. Harm to Scholarship

  • Breaches of academic integrity undermine good scholarship. The harm can occur at many levels across learning and teaching. The most obvious harm lies in hampering effective assessment of what students have learned in their courses.
  • Students who are not submitting work based on their own understanding and analysis of the content being studied are at risk of not meeting the learning outcomes set for their unit/course.
  • Assessors marking work that has been copied, incorrectly cited or produced by another person altogether, cannot conduct a realistic appraisal of students’ competencies.
  • Persistent and pervasive breaches of academic integrity in a course can have flow-on effects such as a skewed perception of standards and expectations relating to how students perform in the course. This can in turn impact the way the curriculum is designed in future courses.
  • The practice of good scholarship is not just about demonstrating authentic learning in assessments. It is also about being part of an academic community, where members recognising and building on the contributions of other scholars. Failure to do this makes it more challenging to track how a theory, ideal, model or concept has evolved through the academic literature, over time.

2. Harm to Reputation and Trust

  • If inappropriately managed, academic integrity breaches may damage students’ and staff confidence in the consistency and adequacy of academic integrity policies and procedures.
  • Students who witness inconsistencies in how breach cases are may distrust their university’s ability to ensure fairness
  • Frequently occurring breaches may promote the normalisation of breach behaviours.
  • Systemic academic integrity breaches that come to light have the potential to damage a university’s reputation – and in turn, the perceived quality of programs and graduates.
  • Damaged trust can negatively affect students’ perception of their learning experience and the quality of their engagement with their institution.
  • The reputation impact may extend into the employment market and graduates workplaces, particularly since breach behaviours committed at university have been cited as a strong predictor for similar behaviours being committed in the workplace.

3. Breach Behaviours Can 'Travel'

There is a connection between cheating behaviours across different levels of study and different environments. Studies have reported associations between academic integrity breaches committed by students and their propensity to commit dishonest behaviours in a professional environment (Sims 1993).


What Can Staff Do?

Taking an educative and proactive approach to promoting academic integrity can seem like a daunting prospect. The Arts L&T Team recommends three main courses of action

Action What does it involve?

Know the relevant policies and procedures:

  • Bookmark the relevant policy, guidelines and forms.
  • Be aware of your responsibilities and that of any other staff involved in the academic integrity management processes relevant to your role.
  • Be aware of whom and where you can go to for support.
  • Be aware of whom and where your students can go to for support.

Know your students:

  • Having an awareness of your students' backgrounds, motivations for being in your unit/s and their experience of your units can help you make better planning decisions when it comes to how a unit is designed and delivered. 

Know the risks and rewards:

  • Different resources, activities and assessments entail different academic integrity implications.
  • When making planning decisions, consider running an academic integrity 'health check'. 

Talk to your students about academic integrity as a fundamental component of their university experience, rather than only being related only to assessments (eg. referencing conventions). Academic integrity should be integrated into every aspect of unit design, delivery and student experience. 

Have conversations about the importance and impact of academic integrity in university and in professional life. 

Talk to your colleagues about their experiences in promoting and managing academic integrity in their units. Are there common challenges, and if so, how have others faced them?


Report suspected breaches as soon as possible.


Resources to Support Academic Integrity

This page is continually updated as changes to the University's academic integrity policy are being made. 

Macquarie University Resources

Faculty of Arts Resources

External Resources



Sims, R. L. (1993), The Relationship Between Academic Dishonesty and Unethical Business Practice, Journal of Education for
Business, 68(4), 207–211.