You are now in the main content area

Common Academic Integrity Misconceptions

When is working with a friend okay? What is “common knowledge”? When can you use your own work again? Students frequently answer these (and other questions about academic misconduct) incorrectly.

Misconception: It is ok to work, discuss and consult in groups (for individual work)

Fact: This is incorrect! Unless your instructor has specifically told you it is alright, it is not acceptable to do any part of an individual submission with anyone else. It increases the chances of your work turning out to be similar to another person’s and you being charged with academic misconduct.  In group projects it is the responsibility of all members of the group to uphold the academic integrity of the project and not to put the other members of the group at risk. Collaboration on a project is only permissible when the instructor says that it is. If you are not sure, then you should ask.


Misconception: If someone is not submitting their work, data and/or chart, it’s ok to use it for your own assignment!

Fact: No part of the work that you submit as your own should consist of any other individual’s work without proper attribution, citations and references.


Misconception: It’s ok to do a small part of the assignment together. It’s cheating only if you copy a major part or the whole thing

Fact: Cheating and plagiarism are not measured by how much of the content is similar. You could be charged if any part of your work is the same as another person’s work.

Misconception: If you have not been caught just after cheating in the exam, you don’t have to worry about being caught in the future

Fact: In any case, less chances of being caught should not drive you to cheat. There have been cases where the instructors have continued investigations for months and found academic misconduct a year after it was committed.

Misconception: You don’t have to cite information from the Internet as it is common knowledge

Fact: All information, from any source must be cited with proper referencing. Some factual common knowledge (e.g. the sky is blue, Toronto is in Canada) do not need a reference.  When in doubt, ask your professor or consult with your librarian.

Misconception: It is okay to use your own previous submission again for a smiliar assignment.

Fact: Without your instructor’s written permission, you cannot submit the same work for the same course or another course in whole or in part. This is considered plagiarism.


Misconception: Everything in your paper must be your own; you cannot take information from anywhere else

Fact: You can take information from all relevant sources - unless your instructor specifies certain sources to be avoided - as long as they are properly referenced.


Misconception: If it’s unintentional, it is not plagiarism

Fact: It is your responsibility to learn proper referencing styles. Ask your instructor for help if you are in doubt. There are also ample resources available at Ryerson University to help you learn how not to plagiarize.


Misconception: If it is your first instance of plagiarism, you will not be charged

Fact: It is your responsibility to learn proper referencing and citations. First time plagiarism still counts as plagiarism.

Misconception: Sending your work to another person to help them understand or to get your work checked and have changes made to it, does not mean you have cheated

Fact: This is incorrect! You are responsible for your work. If there is a chance of it being copied or if someone else adding information which is not your own, you (and the other person) could be found to have contributed to academic misconduct.

Misconception: If I am doing an oral presentation, I can use any information from the Internet or books and not inform the audience

Fact: Whether doing written work, oral presentation, a PowerPoint or an exam; anytime you use information that is not yours, you must give credit to the source.