Top of page
Global Site Navigation

Student Intranet - My Studies

Local Section Navigation
You are here: Main Content

Avoiding Academic Misconduct

What is academic misconduct and how do you avoid it

So what happens when you don’t act with academic integrity?

This is termed Academic Misconduct and will most probably involve some form of cheating that is dishonest and unfair.  There are a number of forms of academic misconduct such as:

  • Plagiarism
  • Obtaining a completed assignment with the intention of submitting it as your own work (Contract Cheating)
  • Unauthorised Collaboration (Collusion)
  • Providing assistance in an exam
  • Receiving assistance in an exam
  • Completing an exam for another student
  • Outsourcing an exam to another student

These behaviours Do NOT align to the Values of ECU, are unacceptable and may result in you being suspended or expelled from ECU.

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is defined as presenting, “intentionally or unintentionally, the ideas or work of another person as one’s own ideas, or work without appropriate referencing or acknowledgement” (Edith Cowan University, 2019b, p.4). Plagiarism is the most common and well-known form of academic misconduct.

Cultural Differences

The concept of plagiarism is sometimes difficult to understand, particularly if you are an international student new to studying in Australia.  Different countries have differing acceptable practices when it comes to using the work of others.  For example, in some countries it is acceptable to use the ideas, thoughts and views of others without acknowledgement. In Australia, as in many other countries, this is seen as stealing.  To assure academic integrity, you must include a citation, also known as a reference, whenever you use ideas, viewpoints or findings that originated from another author to support your argument or discussion.


Download the Plagiarism flyer.

Five Strategies to avoid Plagiarism

  • Learn how to in-text and end-text reference:
  • Be AWARE of the referencing style required of the assessment task.
  • Keep track of your research which includes good note-making.
  • Develop your paraphrasing and academic writing skills.
    • Complete a Skills Audit to identify the skills you are less confident in.
    • Attend Academic Writing Skills Workshops.
  • Seek out ongoing support

Download the Avoiding plagiarism checklist.

Be Proactive! Engage in the conversations so that you learn the skills of effective paraphrasing and referencing to avoid plagiarism.


Watch the Reading and Interpreting a Turnitin Report video presentation.

Allow sufficient time to submit your assignment (2-3 days before the due date).  If the Unit allows, submit your assignment through Turnitin, check the similarity report and make any changes.  Do this at least 24 hours before the submission date.  If you require help in checking the similarity report (and remember this is not a plagiarism report) speak to your tutor or a learning adviser.

More detailed information can be sourced from the Submitting Assessments page in the SLIDE Library Guide.


Once you have developed your referencing skills then you might consider using a software referencing tool such as Endnote (which is free for all ECU students). Endnote is a great tool for tracking your research and automating your in-text and end-text referencing. It is not a quick fix and you must know how to reference before using it.

Take the time to attend an Endnote training session in the library which run throughout the semester.

What is Unauthorised Collusion?

Unauthorised Collaboration at ECU can also be termed as Collusion.  It occurs when you submit work in an assessment task that was completed with someone else, when an individual response to the assessment task was required.  This can include cross-group collusion.

International students be AWARE of this academic practice as it may be different from your home country.

To avoid this form of academic misconduct be clear on the requirements of each assessment task.  You can find this information in the Assessment Task instructions which will be documented in either the Unit Plan or Unit Blackboard Site. If in doubt always seek advise or clarity from your Tutor or Unit Coordinator.


Download the Collusion flyer

Note: Meeting with peers to discuss aspects of your learning, sharing ideas or even relevant articles for your assessment is part of your learning and being immersed in an academic community.   It is not collusion if you then build from these discussions your own thoughts, ideas or arguments, and are trusted by your peers to present YOUR work for assessment. Remember your responsibilities as part of ECU and the wider global academic community as a highlighted in the previous section on Acting with Academic Integrity.

What is Contract Cheating?

Contract Cheating is where an assessment task is outsourced to a third party.  This can be paid or unpaid and is the most serious form of academic misconduct. SO JUST DON’T DO IT!

Evidence suggests that most cases of contract cheating could can be avoided if the student had demonstrated good academic practices or had sought out support from within the University at a time of need.  For example if you experience a family crisis or are hospitalised then speak to your Unit Coordinator about an extension on time for the assessment task.

Find out more about seeking Assignment Extensions

And remember there is a range of support services at ECU to assist you be successful in your studies.  USE THEM!


Download the Contract Cheating flyer.

Cheating in examinations goes beyond attempting to copy from another student.  Examples include:

  • Providing or receiving assistance in an exam (including access to a mobile device).
  • Completing an exam for another student.
  • Outsourcing an exam to another student.

Active participation in Unit examination revision sessions, attending exam preparation workshops and adopting good academic practice throughout the semester will prepare you for exam success where YOU can show YOUR learning.

Be AWARE of exam protocols. The Exam Techniques Academic Tip Sheet is a useful document to read.


Similar to Collusion, the outcomes for this form of academic misconduct are serious.

Download the Collusion flyer.


If you become aware of an instance of academic misconduct or cheating please e-mail

Include in your e-mail the name of the student who you think may be cheating, the unit it refers to and details of the academic misconduct.  The more information you include the better for an investigation.

You can also seek support, speak from your Tutor or Unit Coordinator.

Quick Reads

It’s a fine line between Assignment Help and Cheating

Hurley, P. (2019, July 12). When does getting help on an assignment turn into cheating?  The Conversation. Retrieved from


Edith Cowan University. (2019b). Academic misconduct rules (students). Retrieved from

Skip to top of page