Top 5 tips to help you ace academic integrity

Top 5 tips to help you ace academic integrity

Start the academic year right with tips and tricks on how to maintain academic integrity from current and past students who’ve been where you are.

Understanding the rules of academic integrity and how to develop honest academic work is important, especially if you’re new to university. 

To break down what you need to know, we asked some of our academic skills advisors and peer mentors – your go-to experts on all things assessments! – for advice on creating assessments in a fair and trustworthy way. Here are their top 5 tips. 

Tip #1: Collect references as you go 

Citing others’ work is a key part of maintaining academic integrity. If you fail to acknowledge other’s ideas – whether from a journal article, website or artificial intelligence tool (e.g. ChatGPT) – it’s considered plagiarism. 

A tip for making sure your references are accurate is to keep track of them as you conduct your research, says Academic Skills Advisor Adam Ferris. 

“I like to keep a Google Doc with handy quotes and useful phrases that I want to include in my final assignment, writing out my reference list entries at the start,” he says. 

This makes it easier for Adam to reference direct quotes and ideas from scholarly sources as he writes, creating “a nice mix" of his own voice and in-text citations to support his arguments. 

To help with referencing, Peer Mentor Murray Pascale recommends EasyCite, which has examples of citations and reference lists in the different styles used by RMIT. 

“When it comes to referencing, EasyCite is your best friend,” Murray says. 

Adam Ferris, Academic Skills Advisor Adam Ferris, Academic Skills Advisor

Tip #2: Avoid bad paraphrasing 

“One of the biggest things students get pulled up on for academic integrity is bad paraphrasing,” Adam says. 

If you find a piece of evidence that you want to paraphrase in your assessment, you need to write it in your own words and credit the source appropriately with an in-text citation. 

“Make sure you’re not just changing a couple of words into synonyms here and there,” says Adam. 

Good paraphrasing changes the structure of the text, injects the student's own voice and adds new and original analysis, he says. 

Tip #3: Watch out for self-plagiarism 

In addition to referencing the work of others, you also need to cite your own work if you’re reusing parts of an old assessment task – otherwise, it’s considered self-plagiarism.

“When you cite or quote your previous work, consider yourself the author and your previously submitted assignment an unpublished paper,” says Academic Skills Advisor Sara Ghazi. 

To reference your own work, Sara suggests using the guidelines found on EasyCite

“Select your preferred referencing style and look for ‘Student’s own work’ [in the ‘Other sources’ tab].” 

Crucially, she says, you should always check with your lecturer or teacher before reusing previously submitted work, as it may not be permitted in every assessment task.

Sara Ghazi, Academic Skills Advisor Sara Ghazi, Academic Skills Advisor

Tip #4: Understand the task instructions, especially regarding AI

“Follow instructions [and] read your assignment briefs carefully,” says Adam.

Your teachers will provide clear guidelines on what’s expected of you in the assessment task instructions. This includes whether it’s permitted to use AI (artificial intelligence) tools like ChatGPT. 

If AI use is allowed in an assessment task, make sure you pay close attention to the instructions and accurately reference AI use and any ideas that aren't your own.

If you’re not sure about something in the instructions, ask your teachers for help before you start your assignment, Adam says. 

“If you fully understand the brief before you start, it will be easier to stay on track and get it done.”

Tip #5: Don't be afraid to ask for help

All our academic skills advisors and peer mentors agree that the easiest way to maintain academic integrity is to ask for help when you need it.

“If you’re stuck, you’re not alone,” says Murray.

Asking a friend for help can be a good idea, though Sara emphasises the need to be wary of collusion. Your friends can’t complete assessments for you, so if you need more support, it’s best to turn to RMIT’s range of resources.

Murray Pascale, Peer Mentor Murray Pascale, Peer Mentor

Get free help with your assessments

Murray recommends the following study support services:

  • One-on-one consultations with academic skills advisors
  • 24/7 online study help via Studiosity
  • Ask the Library webchat
  • Peer mentoring.

His parting advice to students is to approach assessments with a learning mindset, which means putting in the time and effort to create original academic work and uphold the values of academic integrity.

“After all, what you get out of uni is what you put into it,” he says.

14 March 2023


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