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PA EDitorial Academic Writing Series: Part One — Integrity

Throughout 2024, PA EDitorial is providing a twelve-part series on academic writing, ranging from the fundamental and ethical values we should be guided by, to the practical processes of writing, using citations, editing and proofreading.

Our series starts by exploring ‘integrity’, what it is and how it should influence our approach to research and writing.


As scholars, we continuously engage with other people’s words and ideas, which can naturally influence our own. Our subconscious assimilation of what we read and hear can sometimes lead to an unintentional lack of acknowledgement of where our ideas originate. This can result in plagiarism, even if we consciously try to avoid it.

So how do we prevent this from happening? Of course, we could just use an online plagiarism checker and hope for the best, but there’s more to it than that.

Academic Integrity

The International Center for Academic Integrity defines it as a commitment, even in the face of adversity, to six fundamental values [1]:

  1. Honesty
  2. Trust
  3. Fairness
  4. Respect
  5. Responsibility
  6. Courage

But how do these principles enable us to interpret information and give credit to other academics when using their ideas?

Simply put, we must acknowledge the contributions of others.

‘You need to learn how to interpret and present other people’s ideas and combine them with your own to produce academic work. This is academic integrity.’ [2]

To help us understand these values in relation to our writing, we can define them further. [3]


Honesty underpins academic integrity. It is a prerequisite for our complete understanding of trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility.

We can demonstrate honesty in our writing by:

  • Being truthful
  • Giving credit to the author or owner of the work
  • Providing factual evidence
  • Aspiring to objectivity and considering our potential preconceptions


It is crucial in academic writing to trust what has been written. Likewise, we must be able to trust each other’s research and know that it hasn’t been falsified or embellished. Trust also enables collaboration, sharing of information, and the free circulation of ideas without fear – it is a reciprocal relationship.

We can demonstrate trust in our writing by:

  • Promoting transparency in our values, processes and outcomes
  • Trusting other’s research
  • Providing authority
  • Encouraging mutual understanding
  • Acting with authenticity


We all have the right to impartial and fair treatment, which includes transparency, reasonable expectations, and a level of predictability in our work environment. Fairness goes hand in hand with trust and plays an essential role in demonstrating academic integrity.

We can demonstrate fairness in our writing by:

  • Applying rules and policies consistently
  • Engaging with others equitably in our work
  • Maintaining an open mind
  • Being objective


As with all the core principles, respect is reciprocal and requires us to tackle challenges without compromising our values or those of others. Academia creates a wonderfully diverse environment with opinions that need to be tested, challenged and refined. Our community can only succeed in doing these things if we respect every member, even if those views contradict our own.

We can demonstrate respect in our writing by:

  • Receiving feedback graciously
  • Accepting that others’ thoughts and ideas have validity
  • Showing empathy to cultures outside of our own
  • Seeking open communication
  • Accepting differences
  • Recognising the consequences of our words on others


We are all accountable to ourselves and ‘each other for safeguarding the integrity of our scholarship, teaching, research, and service’. [4]

A responsible community can uphold our academic integrity values and stand against transgressions and negative peer pressure.

We can demonstrate responsibility in our writing by:

  • Knowing and following institutional behaviour codes
  • Creating, understanding, and respecting boundaries
  • Demonstrating good conduct


Courage isn’t just about a lack of fear; it is the ability to act in line with our values despite fear. We may question how this value falls within an academic writing theme, but if we think about it for a moment, we can only develop courage when we are in environments that test us. With its diversity of opinions and ethics, Academia is such an environment. Demonstrating courage in our writing manifests itself through a willingness to hold ourselves accountable to the highest standards while maintaining a culture of academic integrity.

We can demonstrate courage in our writing by:

  • Being brave with our ideas
  • Supporting others
  • Being resolute in defending our integrity
  • Being willing to take risks despite any potential failures

Being mindful of these six core principles, we can approach our writing knowing that we are upholding academic integrity. Yet, we also need to be able to recognise the subconscious influences of other academic work on our own.

(Adapted from International Center for Academic Integrity (2014), The Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity 2nd ed, online at

Plagiarism – is it, or isn’t it?

Plagiarism can often be obvious, where text is copied word for word without credit being given to the original source. It can also be a quotation within the text that isn’t given a proper citation. Sometimes, it can just be a short sentence or a few words cut and pasted into an article or paper.

Ultimately, plagiarism presents someone else’s work as our own, but how do we know whether something is plagiarism, common knowledge or paraphrasing?

Common knowledge

Common knowledge is something that is ‘well-known’ to the average person. An example is:

  • Elizabeth II was the Queen of England

Such information doesn’t need to be cited or referenced.


Paraphrasing is a skill most academics use when incorporating source material into their work. Yet just because we have rewritten the words doesn’t mean we don’t need to cite their origins, especially if we have kept the text’s original meaning or used its core words.

Some excellent sources on how to recognise ‘paraphrasing plagiarism’ are:

Avoiding plagiarism

There are many reasons we should avoid plagiarism, some are ethical, and some are personal, yet both are equally important.

By not plagiarising, we can distinguish our ideas, thoughts, research, work, integrity and academic brilliance from others. We can also demonstrate our credibility and authority in our chosen subject through academic integrity. These attributes create respect and trust within our immediate and broader community (linking us to the core principles outlined above).

Beyond the professional considerations are our personal ones. Knowing that we have upheld our scholarly and professional standards provides us with further pride in our achievements. Moreover, by contributing to our community with integrity, we lead by example and influence future scholarly generations, which is something to be proud of.

Final thought

By acknowledging academic integrity and its core principles, we put ourselves in a far stronger reciprocal relationship with our community for honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility and courage. It is something we should all work towards in our academic writing and within our community as a whole.

In part two of our Academic Writing Series, we explore style, what it is, and how we can develop it within the constraints of our profession.

PA EDitorial is dedicated to cultivating a customer experience that puts professionalism at the forefront while using our knowledge of copy-editing procedures to elevate your work. We welcome enquiries from both businesses and individuals, so don’t hesitate to get in touch so PA EDitorial can start working with you.



[3] The six definitions have been adapted from the International Center for Academic Integrity (2014), The Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity 2nd ed, online at



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