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SPARK: Why is Academic Integrity Important?

A resource for students wanting to improve their academic and research skills.

Why is Academic Integrity Important?

Academic integrity is based on principles of fairness and reliability. Committing yourself to academic integrity and practicing it is aided by understanding the reasons for these conventions.


Students, administrators, staff, and faculty must interact fairly to achieve the mission of the University, which is “the pursuit, preservation, and dissemination of knowledge.” Fair conduct helps maintain the academic community.

Whether it is in a written assignment or a scientific study, the knowledge that the academic process has been fair and accurate helps support the mission of the University and the wider academic community.


Academic integrity ensures that researchers in academic fields can expand knowledge and understandings of the world on the basis of a stable foundation of reliable and credible information.

Each time you are given a new assignment, it is important to recognize which academic integrity conventions apply to the assignment. When the rules aren’t clearly stated, you should seek clarification from the instructor on these issues.

The sections below review the importance of academic integrity in different contexts and your role within these.

As a Student

Academic integrity guidelines are meant to ensure fairness in the manner in which credits are earned, awarded, and administered, and to successfully initiate students into the shared values and ethics of a field of study or discipline. As a student, fairness:

  • garners trust: Your reader trusts that you have adhered to practices of academic honesty. Any breakdown in mutual trust within the academic environment calls into question everyone’s work.
  • garners respect: Investing your efforts in academic assignments demonstrates respect for the learning process through which your instructor is guiding you. By engaging in inappropriate shortcuts, collusion, and more serious acts of outright fraud, you show disrespect to your instructor and to the academic pursuit of knowledge and skills.
  • helps promote an accurate evaluation for everyone: By adopting good academic practice in completing an assignment, you are contributing to an environment in which your work can be fairly evaluated in relation to that of your peers.  
  • helps maintain the value of your degree: The reputation of the University’s research and degree-granting programs is upheld when we all conduct ourselves in a fair and equitable manner.

For Academic Communities

Scholars conduct their work within academic communities that are knitted together by shared interests and purposes. They often refer to the work of other community members to identify the conversation in which they are participating and the knowledge they are expanding, deepening, or reconsidering.

Scholars work in accordance to mutually agreed guidelines for maintaining the integrity of their scholarship. As a novice member of the academic community, adherence to guidelines for producing academic research with integrity is also expected of you. This expectation deepens as you develop as a scholar.

Beyond the University

Understanding and adopting academic integrity principles will help you develop skills that are important beyond studying at a university.

Observing these principles is important for any research and writing completed in co-op or experiential learning opportunities that take place outside the university. These principles constitute an important part of high professional standards and help organizations run efficiently and effectively.  

Within the workplace, for example, written work generated for one purpose may be re-used for other purposes. If anything about a written document is unclear – from the source of information to the methods by which data was gathered or analyzed – the work may have to be verified or redone for subsequent projects. Poorly documented work can waste time and resources and can leave a bad impression of the work’s authors.

Material written in contexts beyond the university has audiences that depend on the accuracy and ethical production of the work. For example: 

  • investors want a corporation to be forthright and accurate in reports
  • community organizations and government agencies seek to create and publicize well-documented research
  • people working in the arts want to collaborate with partners who will acknowledge, celebrate and respect the artistic efforts of others