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Principles of academic integrity

The principles that guide your authentic participation in the Waterloo community are based on the fundamental values:


  • Lying, no matter the context, is a violation of the principle of honesty. Lying in all matters concerning your academic communications, including exams and assignments, is academic misconduct.
  • Falsification of documents such as transcripts, medical notes, reference letters and forged signatures, is academic misconduct.
  • Theft of intellectual property, such as copyrighted literary and artistic works, patents and industrial designs, is a criminal offence.

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  • A trustworthy person can be believed in. Trustworthy people present themselves and their work without deception. Misrepresentation and impersonation are violations of trust.
  • Plagiarism is representing someone else's work, in whole or in part, as your own. Plagiarism is academic misconduct, even if unintentional.
  • Presenting someone else's words as your own is plagiarism, whether in a term paper, essay, first draft, literature or book review, or even regurgitating passages from a textbook on an exam.
  • Receipt of any kind of help that is unacknowledged may result in a different grade assessment and is a violation of trust.
  • A trustworthy person does not present their own work as someone else's. Ghost writing, writing an exam in someone's place, or writing an essay or lab report and submitting it in someone else's name, is academic misconduct and carries the same consequences as plagiarism.
  • In some circumstances it is a matter of trust that a student complete an assignment with integrity. For example, a student taking online courses writing an unsupervised exam may be tempted to solicit assistance or consult unauthorized aids. A violation of the trust placed in a student in these circumstances is academic misconduct.

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  • To promote a level playing field, actions that produce an unfair advantage may be penalized as academic misconduct.
  • Having prior access to an exam, whether bought, stolen or freely offered, places the recipient at an unfair advantage and is academic misconduct.
  • It is academic misconduct to facilitate unfair advantage through actions such as posting assignment solutions to discussion boards, letting a classmate sneak a peek at your answers during an exam, or giving classmates copies of your past assignments.
  • Use of unauthorized aids in exams (for example: cheat sheets, calculator covers, unauthorized calculators) bestows an unfair advantage on the user and is academic misconduct.

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  • Inappropriate and disrespectful behaviour undermines a culture of academic integrity and is subject to disciplinary action.
  • Disruptive or threatening behaviour, from the classroom to the electronic environment, carries penalties.
  • Students of academic integrity respect the work of others, and in no way obstruct or interfere with another's work.
  • Misuse of computing resources is subject to penalties (see guidelines on use of Waterloo computing and network resources).

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  • Waterloo students have a responsibility to conform to standards of behaviour acceptable in the Waterloo community. Actions that fall below these standards are subject to disciplinary measures.
  • Actions that fall below community standards may be penalized as academic misconduct. Such actions include plagiarism, cheating and unauthorized collaboration with others.
  • An attempt to carry out such an act, even if unsuccessful, may be subject to disciplinary measures.
  • Assisting someone to commit such an act carries penalties on par with committing the action oneself.
  • Waterloo students have a responsibility to report any suspected academic offence to the instructor of the course.
  • Waterloo students have the responsibility to be alert to their stress levels. Personal stress (family life, romantic life, health, job, academic overload, deadlines) may leave one susceptible to temptation. It is the student's responsibility to communicate with their instructor and seek out channels of support that present acceptable options during times of stress.
  • It is the student's responsibility to communicate with their instructor to clarify expectations wherever questions occur. Instructors are sometimes unclear and they may make assumptions about students' levels of sophistication; the student has an obligation to seek clarification when this is the case.

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Next: Student perspectives