You came to Ryerson to learn the skills you need to succeed in your field. Being a student means struggling with concepts, assimilating new facts and approaches, and sometimes reconsidering the knowledge that you already possess. It is hard work! As a student, it is your responsibility to ask for help when you need it.
No one expects you to know everything when you start university. You will get the most out of your Ryerson experience if you approach courses and assignments as learning experiences. If you don't understand an assignment or a concept from class, you should ask your professor to explain it again or seek out academic support services on campus. Above all, consider your reasons for being here and keep them in mind at busy times of the year. If you are crunched for time, get some help with time management from Ryerson University's Student Learning Support, opens in new window. If you're struggling with concepts from class, talk to your professor during office hours or arrange to have a tutor.
Most students are honest; however, the pressure to achieve high grades, fear of failure, stress, peer pressure, parental expectations and lack of preparation may lead some students to consider academic misconduct out of desperation. There are no acceptable excuses for academic misconduct.
- Visit the Important Resources page of this website for excellent free assistance in studying, researching and writing. It also has information on counselling and accommodation resources.
- Manage your time: Trying to balance school with other life responsibilities and commitments can be a daunting task. If you are finding that you have too much to do and too little time in which to do it, you will need to determine what your priorities are, based on your short-term and long-term goals. You may find that it is necessary to lighten your load, or you may be able to organize your responsibilities in a way that allows you to stay on top of your course work.
- Prepare thoroughly for tests and exams: Doing well on tests or exams involves creating a study plan that includes long-term and short-term preparation. You can save time and improve your understanding of course material by using strategic study methods.
- Seek help when needed: Using the resources available to you on campus is not a sign of weakness; it is a smart way to gain a learning edge. If you are confused about the course content, take advantage of your professor's or T.A.'s office hours - they are there to help. Talk to some of your classmates about meeting regularly in a study group to discuss lecture material or readings, practice and compare review questions, or figure out difficult problems. However, be aware that you may not collaborate with others when individual work is required or specified by your professor/instructor. If you are unsure: ask.
- Familiarize yourself with all pertinent information regarding the test/exam/assignment.
Can you imagine being a student before the Internet? The Internet has obviously changed scholarship dramatically. It presents a challenge for researchers and students because the content found on the Internet is often less reliable than information in books or articles, mostly due to the fact that online texts don't go through the same rigorous editing and fact checking procedures as traditional published texts. So, when you use the Internet, use it safely and wisely.
Here are some guidelines that will help you do that:
Think before you search
After receiving an assignment sheet, the first impulse of many students is to log on and see what Google has to say about the topics on the list. Aside from being inefficient, this approach can also lead to plagiarism because the student has begun researching before he or she had a good idea of what to write about. Students may end up finding a paper online that seems to say what they want to say and then they set about trying to change the argument to fit the assignment. Or, students may find themselves changing their mind with each new website they read.
The bottom line is that you should always think before you search. When you get an assignment, read each question carefully and ask your professor questions if you aren't sure how to proceed. Next, do some brainstorming and put some ideas down on paper. Then, write a research question or a statement of purpose, decide what kind of sources your need and how you will use them and then (and ONLY THEN) begin your search. Not only will you have a clear idea of what your topic is and why you're interested in it, you'll be able to do more specific keyword searches and, therefore, your research process will take less time.
Keep a record of your searches
The web is a big place, and it's very easy to lose track of where you are and how you got there. Your overall research process will be easier if you keep a record of your search, including dates, search engine used, search terms used, and general pathways you followed. This also helps if you need to explain the methodology you used in your paper.
Print off a page from the website you're using in your essay
If you find a website that you really want to cite, be sure to print off the first page. This will give you evidence of the website's existence (just in case it disappears or radically changes before your paper is handed back), and will give you a record of the date on which you accessed it.
Don't have website windows open when you're writing your essay
You've been working on your essay all week and are finally writing the draft. It's late at night. You're tired. You have four windows open on your desktop and are switching back and forth between original source material and your essay. Any guesses as to what could happen? Even if you don't copy material and paste it directly into your essay, you run the risk of “borrowing” or stealing the author's words. To avoid this problem, avoid the temptation by taking good notes in the first place. Keep your research and your writing processes separate!
Never cut and paste directly from a website
Sometimes, never means never. Don't cut and paste directly from the Internet, even if you know you're going to use a long quote. Taking notes on a separate sheet of paper is a step in the critical thinking process. Cutting and pasting directly from websites is lazy and puts you at risk of plagiarism. If it seems too easy, it probably is. Trust us on this one.
Proofreading (is permitted)
Proofreading work to check for, but not alter, spelling, grammar, punctuation, typographical errors and correlation between citations and references. The proof-reader may check that formatting is consistent and meets specifications. The proof-reader may provide feedback regarding the clarity and structure of the work, and may identify redundancies.
Editing (not permitted)
Editing includes the writing or rewriting, whether paid or unpaid, of any portion of a student's work that will be submitted to fulfill coursework requirements. When someone alters a student's writing by inputting their own words, this could be considered academic misconduct.
In labs, and in any work which involves the collection of data, it is sometimes tempting to create data which supports your preconceived notion of how things should turn out, or which give the “right” answers. You should leave yourself enough time to redo your work if things seem to be going wrong, or, maybe more importantly, you should discuss the results with your instructor to see if there is a way to present them that shows why they are not what might be expected.
Learning is more important than getting an expected answer.
For useful information on doing group work and avoiding academic misconduct, check out the PDF fileGroup Writing and Support document from Ryerson Student Learning Support.
- Del Carlo, D.I., & Bodner, G.M. (2003). Students’ Perceptions of Academic Dishonesty in the Chemistry Classroom Laboratory. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 41(1), 47-64.
- Delaney, P. (2001). Honesty in the laboratory. In Voices from the Classroom. Reflections on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Newton, J., Ginsberg, J., Rehner, J., Rogers, P., Sbrizzi, S. and Spencer, J. (eds.). Toronto: Garamond Press and the Centre for the Support of Teaching, York University.
- Flinders University. Academic Integrity, external link, opens in new window.
- Harris, R. (2002). Anti-Plagiarism Strategies for Research Papers, external link.
- Lawson, A.E., Lewis Jr., C.M., & Birk, J.P. (1999). Why do students “cook” data? Journal of College Teaching, 29(3), 191-198.
- Oxford Brookes University. (2005). Deterring, detecting and dealing with plagiarism, external link.
- Wilkinson, S. (2003). Keeping students from cutting corners. CENEAR, 81 (15), 51-52.
- York University. (2005). Academic dishonesty in laboratory environments, external link.