Talking Academic Integrity

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You probably first had “the talk” in middle school. The class is gathered to listen to the teacher carefully describe the importance of never copying another student’s work, or writing math formulas on your wrist, or pasting in that perfect paragraph from Wikipedia: the academic integrity talk. 

Here at UAF, Academic Integrity encompasses a wide range of ways students show up in a class. It includes citing sources, sitting for your own tests, using only the tools and resources allowed by your instructor, submitting work you completed specifically for the class, and even refraining from bribing your instructor for a better grade.

Looking over that list, I hope you recognize that you have a lot of academic integrity–you likely do these things everyday! If you’re reading this post, I’d guess that you’re a student who wants to spend your time in college really learning class material. And seriously, nobody wants to spend their afternoons dealing with Academic Misconduct proceedings or cope with the Academic Sanctions that can follow a proven case of academic dishonesty. 

Most of the time, cases of academic dishonesty stem from a combination of misunderstanding, time pressures, and just good old-fashioned mistakes (the Google-ability of everything may not help matters either). With that in mind, here are a few practices that can help keep you, well, honest.


Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate

Cher from the movie Clueless saying "So I figure these grades are just a jumping off point to start negotiations."

Communication can preempt so many potential academic integrity issues! If you need more time, ask for an extension. Or ask about other resources, like collaboration with other students or referencing work you did in another class (both of which can be an academic integrity violation unless allowed by the instructor), as well as revisions or make-up work. No need to share a lot of personal detail; just keep the request simple and polite.  

Extension’s a no-go? Turning in incomplete or imperfect work–with clear citations–is always better than using questionable methods to finish quickly. You may be surprised how many points you still get!


Cite immediately and often (even if imperfectly)

A woman holding a stack of papers forcefully saying "I've done the research!"

When writing a research paper, do you ever add quotes or paraphrases to a draft but delay adding the source because you’re not sure about the citation style? When you are juggling a paper with all your other coursework, it can be easy to forget who you cited from and where. When you are writing, make sure to add a note right away when you quote or paraphrase from a source– you can always transform that note into a perfect Chicago Style citation later. 

Other citation blunders to be aware of are patchwriting (paraphrase that too closely matches the source word choice or sentence structure) and not citing others’ ideas that are expressed in your own words. When in doubt, cite–and show off how you’ve done your research!


Use better study support

Rory from the TV show Gilmore Girls saying "My study tree. This is my study tree."

Yep, there are some websites and tools online that provide answers to homework questions, or generate a pretty solid 5-paragraph essay, or let you look at upcoming lecture notes. While there may be a time and place to use some of these for homework help, please think critically before signing up–especially before handing over your money. 

It never hurts to ask your instructor if they approve the tool or if they can offer alternatives. Plus, showing up to office hours or asking for an appointment for some extra help will likely make your instructor’s day. Also, most UAF student resource centers like the Troth Yeddha Writing Center or the Debbie Moses Learning Center have in-person and online appointments, offering assistance that can help you truly learn the material.


  • Elle Fournier

    Instructional Designer
    Elle Fournier is an instructional designer and has been working to increase inclusivity in higher education for over a decade. She holds a Ph.D. in English Rhetoric and Composition and regularly teaches courses on writing, rhetoric, and the digital humanities.

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