Professionalism and Academic Integrity

What is academic integrity and why does it matter?

At Heriot-Watt University we adopt the International Centre for Academic Integrity (ICAI) definition of academic integrity:

  • 'A commitment, even in the face of adversity, to six fundamental values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility and courage'.

It is at the heart of the University's core values and ethical practice, and an integral part of ensuring that our skilled graduates are respected throughout the global community. Academic integrity underpins all our educational activity at Heriot-Watt University.

Academic integrity is key to assuring the quality of our degree programmes as well as imbedding trust in our student and staff learning and teaching community. Heriot-Watt University expects all students to learn with integrity, which means doing the best within their own ability to demonstrate their acquired knowledge, skills and understanding of the subject. In doing so you will develop the professional values and skills which are sought by employers.

The ambition to become the best professional graduate one can be is something most students proudly strive for. To continue to protect that ambition, to ensure that professional standards are always met, and to respect all students and staff, academic integrity will always be at the forefront of what we as a university deliver.

At Heriot-Watt University, our community is rooted in the principles of academic integrity – it is how we all know our work is ethical and trustworthy. For you as students, academic integrity forms an invaluable part of your studies, guiding you in the fundamental principles of honesty, transparency, and intellectual rigor in everything you do. These serve as a cornerstone for the development of your academic and professional character. Academic integrity signifies a dedication to producing work that is entirely our own. It means that every essay, research project, and examination reflect the unique blend of our own personal insights, knowledge, and creativity. By upholding these principles, we not only assert ownership of our work but also demonstrate a commitment to scholarly excellence.

Professor Malcolm Chrisp, Deputy Principal Education and Student Life

Learn with integrity

To learn with integrity is to always demonstrate professional values. This applies not only to your experience as a student, but to all academic staff involved with teaching, with research and their own learning. It includes, but is not limited to:

  • Ensuring all work submitted for assessment is your own;
  • Ensuring that all work presented appropriately acknowledge any sources or influences on the work;
  • Understanding how to prepare and submit collaborative group work and acknowledging all contributing authors;
  • Not presenting other people's work as your own;
  • Not doing others work for them, nor sourcing others to do your work;
  • Following the University's ethical guidelines when conducting research;
  • Reporting research findings truthfully and accurately.

Acting with integrity is about taking responsibility for your own actions and as a student taking responsibility for your own learning. It is about self-respect and proving you are truly the best you can be as a learner, graduate, and person. It is also about having the courage to do what’s right, to stand up and be accountable for the decisions you make.  Academic integrity matters.

Graduate attributes

Being professional is one of the Heriot-Watt Graduate Attributes. Acting with integrity is a key aspect of being professional so is an important attribute to develop.

Key information

Academic Integrity