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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 called Academic Misconduct and usually involves some form of cheating that is dishonest and provides an unfair advantage.  Examples of academic misconduct are:

  • Plagiarism
  • Self-plagiarism
  • Unauthorised Collaboration (Collusion)
  • Contract Cheating
  • Cheating in an exam

These behaviours are unacceptable and Do NOT align to our Values of Respect, Integrity, Personal Excellence and Rational Inquiry.  The consequences can include failing a unit, 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.

It also includes self-plagiarism which is using your own work and not appropriately referencing or acknowledging it as work you have previously had marked or published.

Cultural Differences

The concept of plagiarism is sometimes difficult to understand, particularly if you are new to study 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.  In other countries you must use the authors’ exact words, which is termed a direct quote.

In Australia, 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. You are encouraged to paraphrase these ideas, viewpoints or findings into your own words, which is called your academic voice, but some disciplines allow you to also include direct quotes.

If you are unsure how to paraphrase or reference then seek help early on in the semester.  Links to access this help are listed on the right-hand-side.

Outcome(s) if you plagiarise

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 your learning so that you can gain knowledge and learn the academic writing skills such as paraphrasing and referencing and to avoid plagiarism.


Watch the Reading and Interpreting a Turnitin Report video presentation.

If your Unit Coordinator allows, submit your draft assessment task through Turnitin a few days before the due date.  This will highlight any issues via the similarity report that is produced. You can then review your work and make any changes.  Do this at least 24 hours before the submission date.

NOTE! A similarity Report is not a plagiarism report.  If you need help to interpret your similarity report ask your tutor or speak to a learning adviser in the Academic Skills Centre.

More detailed information can also be found in the Submitting Assessments page within the Library Essentials program.


Endnote is a software referencing tool such which is free for all ECU students and a great tool for tracking research and automating in-text and end-text referencing.

BUT YOU MUST know how to reference before you start using it! It is not a quick fix and can cause much stress and anxiety if you do not set it up correctly. Always go to an Endnote Library training session before you start using Endnote.

Endnote Training sessions are delivered by the Librarians throughout the semesters.

What is Unauthorised Collaboration?

Unauthorised Collaboration can also be called Collusion.  An example is when as assessment task is submitted for marking that was completed with another student but should have been completed individually.  This can include cross-group collusion.

BE AWARE this academic practice may differ from your home country if you are new to studying in Australia.

To avoid this form of academic misconduct:

  • Read the assessment task instructions thoroughly.  You can find this information in the Assessment Task instructions either in the Unit Plan or Unit Blackboard Site.
  • If in doubt, ASK your Tutor or Unit Coordinator.

Outcome(s) of Collusion

Download the Collusion flyer

NOTE: Meeting with your peers to discuss aspects of what you are learning, sharing ideas or even finding relevant articles together for your assessment is all part of your learning journey and being immersed in an academic community.   It is not collusion if you then go and use this to develop your own thoughts, ideas or arguments in your assessment task, and are trusted by your peers to submit YOUR work for assessment.

Remember your responsibilities as part of ECU and the wider global academic community in Acting with Academic Integrity.

What is Contract Cheating?

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

Most cases of contract cheating can be avoided if good academic practices have been developed and or support was asked for at the time of need.  For example, if you experience a family crisis or are hospitalised, then do speak to your Unit Coordinator(s) about an extension for the assessment task.  DO NOT be tempted to outsource your assessment task and contract cheat!

Find out more about seeking Assignment Extensions

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

Outcome(s) of Contract Cheating

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.

ATTEND and BE ACTIVE in the tutorial examination revision sessions, attend exam preparation workshops and adopting good academic practice throughout the semester.  This 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.

Outcome(s) of Examination Misconduct

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

Download the Collusion flyer.


If you become of possible academic misconduct please e-mail

Include in your e-mail the name of the person who as acted with academic misconduct, the unit it took place in and any details of the academic misconduct.  Please include as much information as you can.

You can also seek support from a 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

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