What Is Academic Integrity?

Writers are obliged to respect the work of others, which means that credit should always be given to previous work through references to sources that are being quoted, paraphrased or used in any other way. Writers are also required to present their own experiments, results and contributions in an honest manner.

Academic integrity is a term used for the professional honesty that researchers and writers of scholarly texts are expected to demonstrate in their work. The code of conduct related to academic integrity is stipulated by rules and practices concerning the way in which research is carried out and reported.

"Honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility"

The Center for Academic Integrity (CAI), an American scholarly association which promotes issues related to academic integrity, has published a booklet called The Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity. In the booklet, the following definition of academic integrity is suggested:

The Center for Academic Integrity (CAI) defines academic integrity as a commitment, even in the face of adversity, to five fundamental values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility. From these values flow principles of behavior that enable academic communities to translate ideals into action. (p. 4)

The key words listed here - "honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility" - sum up the code of conduct that scholarship and university work abide by.

Breach of established rules of conduct in research and written work is often referred to as academic misconduct. The American National Academy of Science (1992) has defined academic misconduct in the following way:

Misconduct in science is defined as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism, in proposing, performing, or reporting research. Misconduct in science does not include errors of judgment; errors in the recording, selection, or analysis of data; differences in opinions involving the interpretation of data; or misconduct unrelated to the research process.

Fabrication is making up data or results, falsification is changing data or results, and plagiarism is using the ideas or words of another person without giving appropriate credit. (Responsible science, volume I: Ensuring the integrity of the research process 27)

Universities, in Sweden as well as abroad, have documented rules for academic integrity. A survey of a number of these documents will demonstrate their resemblance and that they include, more or less, the issues that were pointed out in the quotation above.

The area of academic integrity is vast. Not only does it include guidelines for writers, but also guidelines regarding ethical aspects of field work and clinical work. Since the focus of AWELU is academic writing, the resources in this section focus on academic integrity in writing.