Why it matters

As scholars, we develop our ideas by critically engaging with the work of others. The principle of academic integrity is that when we write and incorporate the research of others into our own work, we must appropriately acknowledge our intellectual sources.

Key points

  • Acting with academic integrity is an essential requirement at ANU.
  • Referencing is crucial to academic writing as it is how you position yourself in your discipline.
  • Acknowledging others in your work will strengthen it.

Ethical and honest scholarly practice demands that you appropriately acknowledge the sources that you base your work on, whether you use them directly, for example, by quoting, or indirectly, through paraphrasing or summarising the source materials. These include other people's ideas and words, figures, graphs, data and so on. Academic integrity is deeply connected to what it means to be a scholar and to be part of a community of knowledge producers.

You can critically engage with the work of others in two distinct stages of the research process. In the first stage, after you have searched and found different sources for your assignment, you will evaluate the sources, assess their relevance, test their reliability, look for similarities or differences between sources, make connections, and so on.

Following this stage, you will then move into the second and most important part of the research process: developing some new and original understanding based on the connections that you make. Correctly and appropriately acknowledging your sources will help you distinguish your own ideas and words from the ideas and words of other scholars.

ANU requirements

The University has guidelines on academic integrity that can be found on the academic honesty and plagiarism page. There are rules that apply to academic integrity during your studies here, including the penalties involved if you breach the rules.

A key principle of academic integrity is the appropriate acknowledgement of the sources you base your work on. To check whether this principle applies to your work, ask yourself:

  • Is your work original?
  • Is it produced for the purposes of a particular assessment task?
  • Does it give appropriate acknowledgement of the ideas, scholarship and intellectual property of others?

Showing your scholarship

Acknowledging sources positions your work in a scholarly community. It:

  • distinguishes your ideas from other people's
  • situates your work in relation to a community of scholarship
  • strengthens your argument
  • allows readers to follow up on information
  • is an essential requirement for all work at ANU.

Acknowledging others is a critical element of academic writing as it provides evidence of your scholarship and supports your argument. Aside from attributing intellectual property and avoiding penalties, acknowledging others demonstrates that you:

  • have read relevant sources
  • have understood and can interpret, analyse and summarize theories and ideas
  • can incorporate those theories and ideas into your argument.

Academic work involves critically engaging with the work of others. Without references, it would be impossible to determine your critical perspective and hence the originality of your work.