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Advice to Students on Good Academic Practice

Approved by: Academic Board
Meeting no: 98/5
Meeting date: 7 October 1998
Resolution no: AB98/86
rule

Students come to university for a variety of reasons such as to gain a specific qualification, to pursue their interest in a particular field and to broaden their education. Whatever your reasons are for being at UTS, you will gain more from your studies if you follow some basic principles of good academic practice. These include the following:

  • academic integrity
  • self-motivation and commitment to learning
  • awareness of requirements
  • participation
  • staff responsibilities
  • respecting the rights of others.

Academic integrity

Academic integrity involves a good measure of trust between students, and between students and academic staff and thesis examiners. Cheating, whether in the form of plagiarism, bringing unauthorised material into exams, submitting false requests for alternative exams or special consideration, or any other form, is a breach of this trust. Cheating also subverts the aims and value of students' studies. In certain courses, this may have serious consequences for public health and safety.

Students should also be aware that cheating helps to diminish the good reputation of the University. The continuing value of a UTS award in the opinions of potential employers and other institutions depends on UTS maintaining its reputation as a university that has utterly reliable credentials.

Good academic practice demands personal integrity and respect for scholarship. These include the fulfilment of mutual obligations. For example, academic staff and thesis examiners are obliged to mark your work fairly and consistently, and you are obliged to submit work that represents your own efforts to meet the stated requirements.

In order to assess your understanding of a subject, rather than merely reward a good memory or quick mind, some forms of assessment (such as essays, theses and projects) require extended independent research. To do this research, you will have to refer to the work of various scholars who are authorities in the field. This is normal academic practice because all scholarship depends in some way on building on the work of others. You must ensure you acknowledge the original authors of the ideas, facts, results etc. to which you refer. In doing so, you both respect the intellectual property rights of those authors and enable your own efforts to be recognised and properly evaluated. If you don't acknowledge your sources you will be committing an act of plagiarism (which is the attempt to pass off/use somebody else's work as one's own). Plagiarism which is attempting to deceive the marker or examiner is academic fraud. It is an act of academic misconduct for which students will be penalised as described in the Rules relating to student misconduct and appeals (Section 16, Student Rules).

The source of the material must be clearly acknowledged otherwise, any of the following is plagiarism:

  • copying, paraphrasing or summarising all or part of any document (including written, audio, visual and computer-based material)
  • using somebody else's ideas, results or conclusions as your own
  • presenting another person's work as your own.

(Of course, none of the above is applicable to quite legitimate forms of cooperation such as discussing your work with other students, exchanging ideas with them, or seeking help from your tutor or lecturer.)

The following guidelines will help you to avoid plagiarism:

  • Make sure that you are familiar with the style of acknowledgment that is recommended for use in the particular subject you are studying (usually either the Harvard or Chicago style).
  • Write the source on any notes or copies you make from any document or electronic sources such as the internet. Keep a detailed list of your sources throughout the course of your research.
  • Sources that must be acknowledged include those containing the concepts, experiments or results from which you have extracted or developed your ideas, even if you put those ideas into your own words.
  • Always use quotation marks or some other acceptable form of acknowledgement when quoting directly from a work. It is not enough merely to acknowledge the source.
  • Avoid excessive paraphrasing, even where you acknowledge the source. Use a different form of words to show that you have thought about the material and understood it.

Self-motivation and commitment to learning

If you have come to university from school or TAFE, you may find that you have to review your approach to study. In general, there is more emphasis at university on students developing independent learning skills and understanding ideas. There is less emphasis on memorising the material that you are studying and more on interacting critically with it and raising questions about it.

It is worth remembering that there is no 'spoonfed' learning at university and nobody to make sure that your motivation doesn't flag, so the onus is on you to complete the requirements of each subject. This demands reasonably high levels of personal discipline, self-motivation and organisation of your time. It is a challenge to balance these demands with the apparent freedom of university life.

Awareness of requirements

It is vital that you are aware of what is required in each of your subjects. These requirements are provided in subject outlines that are given to you at the beginning of each semester (or summer/winter teaching session). If you are not clear about any requirement, or feel that you need additional information, your lecturer or tutor can help you.

Different subjects may have quite different requirements. These might include preparation for classes, participation in tutorials or online discussions, completing an independent learning task or working with other students on a collaborative project.

Participation

All students are encouraged to participate in those classes which are set aside for discussion. Listening to and considering other views, and framing and expressing your own opinion about a topic, are of benefit to your studies because they help to develop critical and analytical skills.

If you find it difficult to participate you should remember that your views are just as important to the discussion as those of more outspoken students. Moreover, once you are a bit more comfortable with making a contribution, you will find that class discussions are among the most satisfying and valuable of your learning activities.

It is acknowledged that student participation may on occasion be constrained by the resources available.

Staff responsibilities

You may expect UTS staff to undertake their responsibilities as academics in accordance with the Code of Conduct.

Respecting the rights of others

All students have the right to:

  • express their views and have those views respected
  • attend classes that are free from harassment, intimidation or unnecessary interruption
  • expect that academic resources such as computing and library facilities will not be abused or monopolised by other students.

Your rights at UTS are always qualified by these rights of your fellow students.