Group work is a beneficial practice, both for your ability to learn within a course and as a practical skill later in your career. However, it is important to remember that any group work or collaboration needs to be consistent with your instructor’s guidelines, and these guidelines may be different in each assignment or course.
For example, you may have assignments in which the instructor permits collaboration during all stages of an assignment, or during certain stages of an assignment. You may also have assignments in which no collaboration is permitted. If you are not sure if collaboration is permitted, it is best to work alone and check with your instructor.
Students can review guidelines and resources for collaboration in the Assessment of Unauthorized Collaboration Involving Undergraduate Students (PDF).
If you are considering having your work edited, review the Guidelines for Ethical Editing of Undergraduate Student Texts or Graduate Student Texts on the Editors Canada website.
Tips for Group Work
Before beginning the project:
- Discuss citation styles and expectations with your group members before beginning the assignment. Anytime your group uses someone else’s work (ideas, words, images, code, etc.), it needs to be cited. For more information on how to cite, visit Referencing and Research Skills. If you are not sure which citation style to use, ask your instructor.
- Create a schedule to stay on track. Find schedule templates in the SSO’s section on ‘Time Management’.
- Review the SSO resource Working effectively in groups to learn how to get organized, create group roles, and review common challenges and solutions.
- Work through examples in Collaborating with Integrity and Sharing or Cheating?
While working on the project:
- Keep track of what each group member is contributing.
- Have frequent meetings with your group members to discuss progress and challenges.
- Review and sign the Assignment Checklist for Group Submissions before submitting.
Examples of Acceptable and Unauthorized Collaboration
Scenario 1: The instructor assigns a group project, permitting collaboration at all stages of the project.
- The students work together researching and writing the project
- The students get help understanding the course concepts, with the writing process, or with finding and using research (e.g. from an instructor, tutor, WCC, a Librarian, etc.)
- Someone (e.g. a tutor, friend, etc.) writes or re-writes portions or all of the project for the students
Scenario 2: The instructor assigns an essay and does not permit collaboration.
- The student does not collaborate with other students in the researching or writing of the essay
- The student gets help understanding course concepts, with the writing process, or with finding and using research (e.g. from an instructor, tutor, WCC, a Librarian, etc.)
- The student works with other students on part or all of the assignment
- Someone (e.g. a tutor, friend, etc.) writes or re-writes portions or all of the project for the student