Academic integrity

“Academic Integrity is the commitment from students, faculty, and staff to demonstrate honest, moral behavior in their academic lives”. As a research and teaching institution, McGill University places great importance on all facets of academic integrity.

Foster a climate for academic integrity in your course

Instructors are encouraged to foster a climate for academic integrity in their courses by helping students develop the values and skills necessary for being responsible scholars. Reinforce with students that creating a culture of trust and respect is a two-way street. Have a class discussion about what academic integrity is in your discipline and why it matters. Be explicit about your expectations for students and ask them what they expect of you. Such discussions can demonstrate that both students and instructors are responsible for creating that climate. 

Start by assuming that most students are honest and want to learn. Focus on supporting students’ learning rather than on punishment and surveillance. When designing learning activities, including assessments, allow students to demonstrate their learning in fair ways while promoting academic integrity. The following suggestions for fostering a climate of academic integrity are in line with a holistic approach proposed by the International Center for Academic Integrity.  

  • Build in opportunities for students to demonstrate the thinking process informing their work, such as through multi-stage assignments (pp. 17-20), where students submit components of the assignment at staggered due dates. For both written and oral assignments, you can ask students to submit an annotated bibliography, their research question, an outline, and/or an opening paragraph. For assignments that involve calculations, you can ask students to explain the thinking underlying their answers.

  • Provide opportunities for students to do oral assessments, where you can engage them in a dialogue about the thinking process informing their work. 

  • Ask students to integrate personal experience and reflections in answering questions when possible. 

  • Create a course honour code that you post on myCourses and revisit before major assignment and exam due dates.  Students can digitally sign an acknowledgement of having read the honour code at the beginning of their assignment or exam, send an email within myCourses attesting to having read the honour code, take a photo of their signature and upload it with the exam, or respond to a 1-question quiz within myCourses that acknowledges having read the honour code. 

Example honour code statement:

I understand that students should neither give nor receive unauthorized aid on any assignments, quizzes, or exams. I acknowledge having read this statement.

Signature: _____________________

See additional examples of honour codes.  

  • Teach students about citation practices in your discipline. If you perceive plagiarism, consider that students might not be aware that they are plagiarizing because they lack knowledge about academic integrity, or the integrity norms at their previous learning institutions are different from those at McGill. 

  • Point students to The Fair Play online resource guide on McGill’s Academic Integrity site and follow up with a discussion in a myCourses discussion forum.   

  • Consult your liaison librarian for support in creating a course guide and/or tutorial on information literacy and research behaviours in your discipline.

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