1 Academic Integrity

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Academic integrity is the foundation of science

At Queen’s University, 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.”

Plagiarism is a departure from academic integrity by presenting someone else’s work as your own. In science, ideas matter, so theft of ideas is a serious form of fraud.

To avoid plagiarism, make sure that sources of ideas and work in your written work and presentations are properly cited. Write in your own words or quote and cite.

  • Citing sources gives credit to the intellectual work of others. It recognizes the work that others have done
  • Citing sources helps other scientists find your source information
  • Others can then read the source information and see how your ideas fit with others in discussing the subject


The following is an excerpt from the Queen’s School of Graduate Studies Academic Integrity Policy.

“Within a graduate program, it is essential that an environment exists in which faculty and students have the utmost regard for the principles of academic integrity. Honesty and mutual trust constitute the very basis of all scientific and scholarly exchange. It is the responsibility of the entire University community to contribute to creating a community based on the principles of academic integrity.

Graduate students must:

  • pursue their research activities in a manner that is consistent with the highest standards of ethical and scientific practice;
  • adhere to Queen’s University’s ethics boards, the General Research Ethics Board (GREB) and the Health Sciences Research Ethics Board
  • carry out research in honest search for knowledge, base findings upon a critical appraisal and interpretation according to scientific, scholarly and/or creative principles appropriate to the particular discipline.”


In academia, there is a growing problem of self-plagiarism. The Editors of the journal ACS Nano described the effect on the scientific community:[1]

“Recycling old data as new material (the accomplishment or quality), when it is not so, is tantamount to attempting to deceive one’s audience.”[2]

Why is it plagiarism if it’s your own ideas or data? The point is that it is fraud, a deliberate deception of the reader. It creates a distrust and poor reputation, and also contributes to overloading the peer review process. The ACS Nano article details several examples of self-plagiarism, summarized below:

  1. Copying several paragraphs verbatim or slightly rewritten from an earlier manuscript.
  2. Using identical schematics or figures as those use in earlier papers.
  3. Data augmentation and/or repackaging to look like a new set of results.
  4. Submitting related and overlapping content to several journals at once.

  1. ACS Nano 2012 Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 1-4
  2. Hexham, I. Academic Plagiarism. http://people.ucalgary.ca/∼hexham/content/articles/plague-of-plagiarism.html


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Principles of Scientific Communication Copyright © 2020 by Amanda Bongers and Donal Macartney is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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