Academic integrity

Quick links

What is Plagiarism?
Other Forms of Academic Misconduct
Penalties for Academic Misconduct
Academic Offenses on Your Student Record
Avoiding Plagiarism in Academic Writing
Common Questions and Answers on Plagiarism
Resources on Academic Integrity
Contact Information
Academic Misconduct Policy (PDF)

OCAD University prides itself on fostering and promoting effective teaching, learning and artistic creativity. The university encourages its students to push the boundaries of their creativity, to take risks and seek innovation. OCAD U believes that all creative pursuits require students to hold themselves to the highest standards of ethical conduct, honesty and academic integrity.

Academic integrity requires that all academic work be wholly the product of an identified individual or individuals. Ethical conduct is the obligation of every member of the University community and breaches of academic integrity constitute serious offenses. This policy will ensure that all students, faculty and staff members are informed about academic integrity. The intention is to support a culture of integrity, not constrain desirable collaborative behaviour. Students must assume responsibility for maintaining honesty in all work submitted for credit and in any other work designated by the instructor of the course. This policy seeks to demonstrate the university’s concern with academic dishonesty and to guarantee a fair procedure for resolving complaints of academic misconduct.

What is plagiarism?

Academic misconduct — commonly called cheating — is broadly understood to mean behaviour that interferes with or attempts to interfere with the integrity of the learning environment.

Plagiarism is one form of academic misconduct. Plagiarism is the intentional misrepresentation of another’s work as one’s own. It occurs when a student:

  • Takes and uses another person’s work in whole or in part, including that person’s writings, inventions, data, ideas, arguments, calculations, images, designs or productions and offers them as his/her own work without appropriate attribution or credit.
  • Supplies another student with written, visual or other material production, in whole or in part, for submission or representations as his/her own.

This applies to all forms of student work, including but not limited to: design projects, art projects, computer reports and software, literary compositions, academic essays, diagrams, performances, installations, constructions, photographs, films, audio tapes and videotapes.

In some areas of art and design, appropriation of images or text may be an intentional strategy, but at no time may these images or text be represented as the student’s original work.

Other forms of academic misconduct

Other forms of academic misconduct include, but are not limited to:

  • Copying another student’s work during a test or examination
  • Submitting an answer to an examination question prepared outside the examination room without authorization
  • Possessing unauthorized aids at an examination site
  • Having someone else take one’s examinations
  • Altering one’s work without permission after it has been assessed, i.e., for the purpose of contesting the original assessment
  • Knowingly allowing one’s work to be copied during a test/examination or otherwise
  • Collaborating on take-home exams or other assignments without permission
  • Improperly obtaining through theft, bribery, collusion or otherwise an examination or test paper or other materials
  • Signing in another student on an attendance sheet
  • Submitting any work for evaluation that has previously been submitted in another course, without the faculty member’s prior approval

Penalties for academic misconduct

A confirmed instance of academic misconduct will result in a penalty. Penalties that may be imposed for academic misconduct include:

  1. Grade of zero on an assignment, which constitutes a warning
  2. Grade of zero in a course
  3. Disciplinary probation
  4. Suspension from the University for a minimum of one semester
  5. Expulsion from the University

More than one of the above penalties may be imposed simultaneously.

In the event a serious breech of academic integrity is confirmed following the conferral of a degree, the University reserves the right to revoke the degree.

Academic offenses on your student record

Findings of academic misconduct will be recorded in the student’s file in the Office of the Registrar and otherwise as noted below.

The mechanisms for recording violations will conform to the following principles:

  1. All records are confidential. They will be made available to appropriate parties only when a given case of academic misconduct has been established or as otherwise required by law.
  2. Every confirmed finding of academic misconduct, regardless of severity, will be recorded in the official academic file of the student.
  3. A file of hard copies of plagiarized papers and other documentation of academic misconduct will be maintained in each Faculty office.
  4. The student’s transcript shall reflect penalties of suspension and expulsion from the University, as well as those embedded in the final grade for the relevant course(s).

If the Vice-President, Academic or the Student Appeals Committee, as the case may be, overturns a decision, all records pertaining to the matter will be removed from the student’s file by the Office of the Registrar.

Avoiding plagiarism in academic writing

In creating your academic writing assignments at OCAD U you will be exploring the ideas of other authors to develop your own thinking. Identifying these sources in your paper through formal “citations” has several purposes. It gives credit to the work done by others. It allows the reader to evaluate your writing in the context of other work in the field. It allows the reader to identify your own original ideas. And it gives you an opportunity to reflect on the work done by others and respond to it in your paper. In professional academic writing, it also allows readers to use the sources you’ve found to pursue their own research.

The way that sources of ideas and information are referred to in writing depends on the specific type of writing as well as cultural tradition. For example, in magazine and newspaper writing formal “citations” are not generally used. And in academic traditions from some other countries, ideas and words do not need to be cited if they are from experts well known to the reader. So, in learning to use sources well in your writing at OCAD U, you are learning a set of conventions that are specific to the North American academic tradition. You are learning to write as part of the “The Academy.”

The minimum requirement for incorporating sources into your writing is to use formal citations (information about the source given in parentheses or in a footnote) for all sources.

However, while including citations is a minimum requirement of academic writing, strong academic writing requires more than this. The best way to avoid plagiarism is to develop strong research questions and a strong thesis. Your goal is to create a paper that is driven by your own ideas, not paraphrased sentence by sentence from your source or made up of a series of quotations. Strong academic writing creates a kind of “dialogue” between you, the authors you refer to, and your readers. To accomplish this you need to develop a voice of your own in your writing so that it is clear when you are “speaking” and when your source is “speaking”. Writing well with sources requires a number of skills that you will be developing throughout your time at university. These include:

  • selecting and evaluating sources
  • reading “actively” so that you are critically analyzing the material you are reading and developing your ideas as you read
  • taking notes that distinguish your ideas from those of your source
  • distinguishing “common knowledge” in your field from original information and ideas
  • structuring your writing based on your own argument, not that of the source
  • integrating quotations and paraphrases smoothly into your writing

The Writing & Learning Centre has a number of online handouts to help you identify plagiarism in academic writing and develop the skills to avoid it. (See the section below on Resources). However, one of the best ways to develop these skills is to work one-on-one with a tutor starting early in the research process.

Common questions and answers on plagiarism in academic writing


Q: Do I need to cite information from the web?
A: Yes. You should select websites carefully and cite the website as your source.

Q: Do I need to cite general background information
A: Very basic background information, or “common knowledge,” (for example, the date of birth of an artist) does not need to be cited. However, what is considered common knowledge depends on the field and the type of writing. If in doubt, cite. Keep in mind as well that even general background information can be considered plagiarism if you present the information very much as in the source, for example by paraphrasing a passage sentence by sentence.

Q: Do I need to cite paraphrased material
A: Yes, paraphrased material must be cited because you are borrowing the author’s ideas, even though you are presenting them in your own words. However, keep in mind that if you paraphrase a passage sentence-by-sentence or copy the structure of the original passage, this can still be considered plagiarism even if you include a citation. Instead you should substantially summarize or reorganize the information so that it suits the purpose of your own piece of writing (and include a citation). If you still find that you need to repeat some ideas in very similar words, you should use a direct quotation.

Resources on academic integrity

Students have the responsibility to learn how to use the conventions of appropriate documentations and, if in doubt, are encouraged to consult the following for clarification:

The Writing & Learning Centre offers one-on-one tutoring at all stages of the research and writing process. The WLC also offers a number of online handouts that explain the skills and techniques required for avoiding plagiarism. See in particular the handouts under the headings “Selecting Materials”and“Dialogue with Other Writers.”

First-year writing courses and LS One include instruction on plagiarism and proper documentation; all course syllabi include a paragraph about plagiarism and provide students with the URL to the Academic Misconduct Policy(PDF) on the OCAD U website.

Contact information

Contact:Office of the Vice-President, Academic;| 416-977-6000, Ext. 427