Academic Integrity at VU: Glossary

Academic Integrity (Module 1 definition)

Acting with the values of honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility in learning, teaching and research. 

Academic sources (Academic Integrity Modules definition)

Sources written by experts in the discipline. They are usually written in a formal style, have been edited and reviewed by other disciplinary experts. They usually have citations and a reference list.

Bribing (Academic Integrity Policy definition)

Bribing, or attempting to bribe, a person who has control over any aspect of a student's academic performance is both a breach of academic integrity, and also potentially a corruption matter which may be investigated under VU's fraud and corruption control framework. 

Bribery does not need to be with money. Any offer to exchange favours or benefits of any kind for unmerited academic advantage is a breach of academic integrity. 


Citation (Academic Integrity Modules definition)

The way you tell your readers that material in your work came from another source. This can be in the original author’s words or summarised in your own words. There are a range of conventions used when citing other sources.

Collusion (Module 1 definition)

Working with others on a task in which individual answers are required. This is sometimes called unauthorised collaboration, and it may occur unintentionally or intentionally. 

Contract cheating (Module 1 definition)

Commissioning someone else to complete an assessment or task for you, either paid or unpaid. 

Copyright (Academic Integrity Modules definition)

The legal right that grants the creator of an original work exclusive right for its use and distribution.

Creative Commons (Academic Integrity Modules definition)

The author/creator has decided to allow copyright material to be distributed freely to enable sharing, using and building upon the work as long as the author/creator is appropriately.

Direct quote

Direct quote

A direct quote is one that is copied exactly as presented by the original author. This would include the same wording, punctuation, diacritical marks etc.

To signal that the text is not yours, a direct quote is placed in inverted commas or quotation marks. For example:

Jones (2012, p. 23) reported that 'listening to classical music for approximately 30 minutes each day had a positive effect on the learning outcomes of children between 1-4 years old  with Asperger’s syndrome'. 

It is not advisable to use too many direct quotes in your writing. They should be used sparingly. It is generally better practice to paraphrase or summarise as this demonstrates your understanding of the work of others and your skill as a writer.

Impersonation (Module 1 definition)

Pretending to be another person in an assignment, or getting someone else to do an assessment for you. For example, sitting a test or examination on behalf of another student. 



Paraphrasing refers to rewriting someone’s ideas using your own words and is used frequently in academic writing. Paraphrasing is more than changing just one or two words and some punctuation. It is about using your own words to represent the original text. Of course, you still need to reference the source to avoid inadvertently plagiarising someone’s work. For example:

Jones (2012) reported in his study that preschool aged children with Asperger’s syndrome were noted to have positive learning outcomes after listening to classical music for a period of 30 minutes each day.

Paraphrasing is any easy concept to understand but difficult to do well, particularly when paraphrasing work that is complex and dense (i.e. technical terminology).

Plagiarism (Module 1 definition)

Copying or paraphrasing someone else's work and presenting it as your own. This includes using your own work without authorisation in a different context. 

Primary source

A primary source is a text or object that is the original work of an author or creator, rather than produced by someone else.  For instance, if you are using a journal article as a primary source you are using the journal article that was written by the author him/herself.  This journal article may present the author’s data, findings, reflections etc.

A primary source can be a written document such as a book, article, letter or speech. Alternatively it could be a creative piece such a video, poem, artwork, piece of music etc.

Public domain

Materials that are not protected by intellectual property. Anyone can use a public domain work without obtaining permission and no one can own it.

Secondary source

A secondary source is one that interprets, references, analyses or draws on a primary source. For instance, writers of a journal article may cite the work of a researcher mentioned in a journal article they have used for a literature review but they may not necessarily have read that researcher’s work for themselves. The writers would need to cite the secondary source. For example,

Piper (cited in Jones, 2012) also undertook a range of studies involving preschool aged children who were diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and their reactions to various musical genres.

In this case, the writers read the work of Jones but not the work of Piper.

Self-plagiarism (Academic Integrity Modules definition)

When a person presents work that they have previously completed or published as if it is new. Sometimes, students can legitimately re-use work if the first assignment is a draft for the next. In the same way, in publications, authors can sometimes republish on the same work with the permission of the first publication. However, this needs to be explicitly stated and acknowledged.

Summarising (Module 1 definition)

Summarising is used in academic writing to encapsulate, synthesise or focus on a main argument that is presented in a text.  For example, a whole chapter on the advantages of bilingual speakers over monolingual speakers may be summarised into a short paragraph that explains the core arguments presented. When you summarise, it is similar to paraphrasing in that your own words are used. Also, sources must be referenced.

Washing (Academic Integrity Policy definition)

A modern form of plagiarism is known as "washing". This occurs when Google Translate or similar services are used to translate a plagiarised assessment into another language and then back again into English. This process involves automatically substituted generated synonyms and phrases and creating an ostensibly "new" document.