A student’s guide to academic integrity

Not sure where to start with academic integrity? Alex, student ambassador for digital education, shares how you can get to grips with good academic practice.

University of Leeds
3 min readNov 10, 2023
Academic speaks to audience in lecture hall

Academic integrity may be a familiar term or a completely new one to you. You may be beginning your academic journey or continuing your studies. Either way, these five top tips will help to boost your confidence when it comes to the University’s academic standards.

1.Paraphrasing vs. plagiarism

Knowing how and when to paraphrase ideas, and not plagiarise them is a crucial skill. Understanding the difference will help you to uphold best academic practice.

Paraphrasing is the act of summarising an idea in your own words. Paraphrasing someone else’s idea still requires you to cite the source correctly in your work.

Plagiarism is taking credit for ideas that are not your own. It can include copying someone else’s idea directly and choosing not to cite it, paraphrasing an idea without referencing your source, as well as using AI-generated content in your writing.

Action against plagiarism is fundamental to upholding academic integrity whilst at the University.

2. Own your references

Be consistent. At the University of Leeds, students generally use the Leeds Harvard reference style. You must stick to the same style for your references.

Start referencing early. Keep track of all direct quotes, images or diagrams, and ideas while note taking.

Make use of online citation tools to help with your bibliography or references page. Some resources include MyBib and CiteThisForMe. While these tools can be helpful, they are only as good as what you give them — make sure to provide all relevant citation information to ensure accurate citations.

3. Take good notes

When taking notes, always make sure to distinguish between your ideas and those of others. Note the source of where you found the ideas if they are not your own. (This practice will also help save you time when referencing!)


When noting an idea you want to use, try putting the idea into your own words. This will gauge your understanding of the idea you are trying to express.

Make use of online reference management systems. EndNote is supported by the University of Leeds (and can be synced with Google Scholar), but there are others such as Mendeley and Zotero. These systems work as both note taking platforms and ways to keep track of your references.

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4. Know your (online) resources

It is important to know the difference between acceptable resources to assist you with your writing and those that violate academic integrity standards.

Services such as Grammarly and spell checkers in word processing software such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs are helpful when it comes to checking your writing for grammar and spelling errors. These services are okay to use as the writing is your own, and the service is merely checking for spelling and grammar mistakes. These mistakes do not impact the generation of ideas in your work.

Services such as online paraphrasing software or AI-generated content from websites like ChatGPT violate academic integrity guidelines. They are prohibited for students use unless you receive explicit permission from an academic tutor. These services, unlike grammar checkers, assist with idea generation and therefore result in the work not being entirely your own.

5. When in doubt, ask for help!

The Library at Leeds has plenty of information about helpful study tools, referencing, writing, and doing research. If you’re lacking confidence on these topics, refer to their website for guidance.

Whilst there are plenty of resources available online, the Library also hosts drop-in sessions and writing workshops throughout the academic year to help students. You can find out more about the Library’s research and study support offerings here.

Learn more on the Digital Education Systems Help website, including information on the Academic Integrity tutorial and test.

Written by Alex, student ambassador for Digital Education