Academic Integrity

Academic Integrity and You

All UBC students are expected to behave as honest and responsible members of an academic community (Okanagan Academic Calendar 2020/2021)

UBC and the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies take Academic Integrity very seriously – in fact, it is what all members of UBC’s community, from first-year undergraduates to publishing professors, aspire to when they do research. Academic Integrity is the foundation of what makes your education one of the finest in the world.

UBCO Academic Integrity

Would you know an academic integrity violation or cheating if you saw it? It is not always the old-fashioned example of looking at another student’s test or copying their paper; in this online world, cheating can happen in many forms, as outlined in the Academic Honesty and Standards and Academic Misconduct policies in the UBC Okanagan Academic Calendar. Please read the following carefully to avoid unnecessary mistakes.

What is cheating?

Cheating includes, but is not limited to:​

    • Posting or viewing exam questions on “homework help” websites in an effort to receive assistance.
    • Submitting the same, or substantially the same, assignment more than once for credit (unless approved by the instructor).
    • Purchasing an essay or assignment from an agency or individual that sells such materials for profit.
    • Submitting an essay or exam with which one has collaborated or received help from a tutor, classmate, or a friend in the writing or revision process so that it no longer reflects one’s own capabilities; this implicates both of you in academic misconduct.
    • Use or possession in an examination of any materials (including devices or visiting external websites) other than those permitted by the examiner.
    • “Copying & pasting” sentences or phrases or key words from books or articles, online or hard copy, without placing them in quotation marks or block quote format and citing the source in the body of your essay and on a references page.
    • Summarizing, paraphrasing, or using ideas found in secondary sources without citing the source in the body of one’s essay and on one’s reference page.
    • Falsifying or submitting false documents, transcripts, or other academic credentials.
    • Impersonating a student to write or submit an assignment/exam.
    • In visual or digital contexts, failing to credit the work of others verbally and in writing through citations for research material, influences, and any pre-existing imagery used to generate assignments.
    • Using online tools such as “text spinners” or translation programs to assist with research writing.
    • Other actions as listed in the University’s Academic Misconduct.

Whether you’re taking a final exam in a gymnasium with 100 people or you’re behind your laptop in your bedroom, the rules for ethical behaviour during exams don’t change.

You can face tough consequences if you violate any of the rules listed in the Student Conduct during Examinations policy.

Art Production Plagiarism

In art production, the same rules for plagiarism apply as those for written work. In short, the work of others must be credited. Artists are often inspired by the work of others which is a normal part of the creative process. However, visual projects must be developed until they are identifiably original both visually and conceptually. Students should discuss and document their sources of inspiration and cite any pre-existing imagery used to generate their artwork. Students should also never submit their own work for more than one assessment (self-plagiarism).

Plagiarists copy sketches, paintings, photos, and even sculptures. When you copy someone else’s art without permission and/or proper credit—you are stealing. Even mere using of filter, changing of color, and adding of clip art or text are unacceptable and unethical.

Make another person’s work your inspiration. If you find a piece attractive and want to use it, get ideas from it. Don’t save, copy, trace, and post the artwork. Instead, use it as a guide or pattern to create your own.
Mix different ideas. Take a few sources and make your own piece by drawing inspiration from them. This helps you create a great masterpiece—something you can call yours.
Cite your sources. If you’re inept at creating your own masterpiece, use your sources. However, do not forget to name and acknowledge the owners or publishers. This is the safest way to avoid art plagiarism.

Plagiarism has very little to do with inspiration. While inspiration opens new doors to you, shows you new possibilities and gives you motivation to go beyond your everyday routines and limitations, plagiarism only confines you to reproducing the things that have already been done

There are circumstances where it’s ok and even advisable to copy the work of someone else. Generally it’s when you’re learning. Copying from the masters is an accepted part of the learning process. To better understand how something was created you copy it as close as you can and learn from the experience of doing.

The act of copying helps train your technical muscles.

  • Musicians learn to play the riffs of others exactly as they hear them.
  • Painters create variations of the masters and copy brush strokes or color palettes.
  • Developers type out all the code they find in a book or a site they come across.
  • Designers mimic the type, grids and color of those that inspire them.

While it’s ok to copy to learn, it’s not ok to copy someone’s work and pass it off as your own for commercial purposes. I think we’d all agree that’s wrong and it’s in part why copyright laws exist. However, every industry has a certain mentality where some lead and the rest copy. Design is no different and most designs are at some level a copy of another design.

There are a number of things we can do to ensure we avoid copying that which inspires us. It begins with where we draw inspiration. The further away from the finished design you draw inspiration, the less likely the end result will be a copy. Instead of drawing inspiration from the design of a website try drawing inspiration from different industries. Be inspired by the design of a car or a piece of furniture. Take inspiration from the layout of a magazine article or the colors of a painting. Even if you out and out copy something from the car, furniture, magazine, or painting, it’s unlikely your design will be seen as a copy since the source is far enough removed from the finished design.

For those times when you are drawing inspired from the design of another site look deeper into what inspires you. Try to understand what specifically is giving you inspiration and why.

If you like the color scheme of a site don’t just grab the hex values and use them. Think about what in the scheme you like? Look to the relationships of the colors to one another.

  • Are you inspired because the palette makes use of neutral colors? Then develop your own palette of neutral colors.
  • Do you like the contrast between hot and cold colors or light and dark colors? Then choose different hot and cold or light and dark colors you can contrast.

Instead of taking directly try to understand what’s going on at the core of what’s inspiring you. The less you copy directly, the further away you again are from the source in your finished work.

I think what it ultimately means to be a link in a chain is to see the good in another’s work and do your best to understand why you think it’s good. Don’t copy that good thing you find outright. Seek its core goodness and filter it through yourself. Incorporate the ideas of others so deeply within yourself and your work that they mix with your voice and become something different and unique to you. That’s how it becomes an inspiration and not a copy.

Use what inspired you, build on it, and leave something behind to inspire someone else.

I cheated, so what?

The consequences for cheating and unethical behaviour are significant and wide-ranging. Ultimately, cheating and academic dishonesty can derail your academic and career ambitions, including getting into a post-baccalaureate professional program, or a graduate program, or receiving your UBC degree.

Academic misconduct can result in a one-year suspension from the University, a notation of academic discipline on your record and a grade of zero for the course in which the academic misconduct occurred. However, disciplinary measures which may be imposed, singly or in combination, for academic misconduct include, but are not limited to the following:

  • A letter of reprimand;
  • Revocation of a degree dishonestly or improperly obtained;
  • A notation of academic discipline on the student’s Transcript of Academic Record;
  • Denial of admission or re-admission to the University for a specified or indefinite period of time;
  • Expulsion from the University;
  • Suspension from the University for a specified period of time;
  • Suspension, cancellation, or forfeiture of any scholarships, bursaries or prizes
  • A failing grade or mark of zero on the assignment or in the course in which the academic misconduct occurred.

How to maintain Academic Integrity

Maintaining academic honesty is the easiest way to succeed at UBC and is at the crux of what you came here to do – learn. Do not share your work with classmates or help each other take tests. Do not be tempted by websites that promise you solutions to your assignments – there are examples where these sites have provided user information to UBC. Do not participate in a study group that demonstrates unethical behaviours, such as obtaining exam answers, collaborative test taking, creating a common set of notes or script among group members or copying assignments (among others).

Do use the resources provided by your instructor, like office hours, and do form study groups with classmates to help each other learn the course material before the exams while maintaining academic integrity. If you have read this article you should be well-informed about academic integrity, but if you are still not sure about what is right or wrong, ask your instructor and take part in Academic Integrity Matters (AIM) offered through the Student Learning Hub.

How UBC is tracking people who cheat

The Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies is committed to identifying all cases of academic misconduct and will take the necessary disciplinary action as appropriate. We are currently using all of the means at our disposal, including a variety of software tools to identify cases of plagiarism, cheating “contract essay writing” and “contract test taking.”

If you have any questions or concerns about academic misconduct, please let us know by emailing