Academic Honesty Policy

The IB requires academic honesty to be embedded into the life of the school. Standard C3 states that "Teaching and learning promotes the understanding and practice of academic honesty." The IB expects a school to have an academic policy that is aligned to IB expectations.

This page has been designed as a professional development workshop on academic honesty that you could run with your staff. It will also help you devise or revise your academic honesty policy. The workshop will enable colleagues to become familiar with a clear set of definitions used to explain academic honesty (including definitions of terms used when discussing malpractice: plagiarism, collusion, citation, referencing and paraphrasing), discuss how the school can be proactive in promoting academic honesty, provide safeguards for students during their learning and signpost resources to support detection of malpractice.

Professional Inquiry

  • What is academic honesty?
  • How do we know we are meeting the IB's requirements for academic honesty?
  • How can we be proactive in promoting academic honesty in our school?

What is academic honesty?

The IB has clear definitions for academic honesty and malpractice (collusion, plagiarism etc.). Students are expected to clearly and fully acknowledge any third party used to produce the work they submit to the IB for assessment. Teachers are expected to model this practice in their teaching.

Activity 1: Defining academic honesty

In table groups (which could be subject based) use the following activity to brainstorm what you mean by 'academic honesty'. You may like to consider the following prompt questions:

  • What are the key concepts behind academic honesty?
  • Which acts count as malpractice?
  • Why do students commit malpractice? Can malpractice ever be innocent?
  • What role does technology play: is it the villain? To what extent have intellectual property borders blurred with the use of the internet?
  • Do particular cultural forces promote academic malpractice?
  • What is the connection between the importance of academic honesty and the constructivist inquiry-based approach to learning promoted in all IB programmes?

Use Six word memoir protocol to crystallize your definition of academic honesty in just six words and be ready to post your definition on a wall for all to see and share in plenary.

The following video provides a useful introduction to some of the key principles behind academic integrity, including plagiarism.

Academic Honesty in the IB

Sources of information

  • The Handbook of procedures for the Diploma Programme contains a good section on academic honesty with notes on the following: policy /  what constitutes misconduct? / the authentication of candidates' work / the use of plagiarism detection software / alleged academic misconduct during an examination / the improper conduct of an assessment / actions to be taken by the IB for alleged breaches to the regulations.
  • A really helpful IB poster on Are you completing your IB assignments honestly? can be found by clicking here.

The IB have commissioned a number of research and position papers on Academic Honesty. They are hosted on the IB website. Due to copyright protection I cannot provide you with a direct link to them. However, if you copy and paste the following information into a search engine you will easily access them.

  • Academic Honesty in the IB educational context (IB, 2014) aims to support schools in developing an academic honesty ethos.
  • Effective citing and referencing, (IB, 2014) provides IB guidance.
  • Academic Honesty in the IB, an IB position paper, Jude Carroll (IB, 2012)
  • Academic honesty - principles into practice (IB, 2014)
  • Click here to access WHITE PAPER The Sources in Student Writing – Secondary Education, Turnitin (2013).

Activity 2: Academic Honesty - Quilt of Quotes

The following quotes are taken from IB documentation on academic honesty. Display them as quotes on the wall in the form of a Quilt of Quotes. Use the Quotes that speak to me protocol to explore what the IB means by academic honesty.

  • Ask each person to individually look at the ‘Academic Honesty Quilt of Quotes'. Try to read everyone. Then choose the quote that most speaks to you.
  • Table groups - each person picks a relevant quote. Tell the “story” and significance of the quote to the rest of group and explain how it exemplifies current and future practice.
  • Have a group discussion around the quotes. Which themes come out of your choices – how do the quotes shape your understanding of what the IB means by academic honesty?
  • Make sure your write these themes down on slips of paper to use in the next activity. Collate all the slips (themes) from the staff discussion.


Ensure that in addition to the quotes on the wall you have copies of the quotes so that staff can take one away back to their table to discuss. Copies could be put in see-through folders below the quote in the quilt.

The Quotes

  • “Academic honesty is an essential aspect of teaching and learning in IB programmes where action is based on inquiry and reflection." (Academic honesty in the IB educational context, IB 2014)
  • “We live in an age in which we are all flooded by information and opinions. How can we help students navigate these waters so that they are able to confidently talk or write about what they are learning, making visible and explicit how they have constructed their ideas and what views they have followed or rejected? This is essentially what academic honesty is: making knowledge, understanding and thinking transparent. “(Academic honesty in the IB educational context, IB 2014)

  • "Academic honesty in the International Baccalaureate is a set of value and behaviours informed by attributes of the learner profile. In teaching, learning and assessment, principle of academic honesty serve to promote personal integrity, engender respect for the integrity of others and their work, and ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to demonstrate the knowledge and skills they acquire during their studies." (Academic honesty in practice, Global session guidelines - Workshop Planner)

  • “In order to fully master the technical aspects of academic honesty, such as accurately citing and referencing, students need to understand how knowledge is constructed and, consequently, their own role in furthering knowledge construction and building understanding.” (Academic honesty in the IB educational context, IB, 2014)

  • “A safe and encouraging learning environment in which students can explore ideas and make visible the development of their own thinking will support academically honest behaviours.” (Academic honesty in the IB educational context, IB, 2014)

  • “The principle of academic honesty should be viewed positively by the entire school community and become a natural part of academic study, remaining with the IB student throughout his or her education and beyond.” (Academic honesty in the IB educational context, IB, 2014)

  • "Academic honesty is an important dimension in the authentic construction of meaning and learning in all IB programmes." (Academic honesty in the IB educational context, IB, 2014)

  • "Academic honesty is part of being “principled”, a learner profile attribute where learners strive to “act with integrity and honesty” as we question, inquire and act (IB learner profile in review: Report and recommendation (April 2013)

  • “Academic honesty … has become increasingly important as access to information through technological innovation has increased, and ideas about learning and how knowledge is constructed have changed.” (Academic honesty in the IB educational context, IB, 2014)

  • “Teaching and learning in the DP must develop the positive behaviours that students will need to demonstrate clearly that they complete their work carefully, honestly and authentically.” (Academic honesty in the IB educational context, IB, 2014)

  • “DP students develop research skills and study habits that are needed to demonstrate academic honesty in more formal ways than would be appropriate to expect of younger learners. DP students investigate and evaluate the usefulness of a greater variety of resources, and incorporate and reference them within oral and written presentations of increasingly complex formats.” (Academic honesty in the IB educational context, IB, 2014)

  • “All IB students understand the importance of acknowledging others because it is a central feature of the constructivist, inquiry-based approach promoted in all IB programmes; yet, in the DP, this requires the explicit teaching and learning of specific conventions accepted in a community of learners for being transparent about the use of ideas and work of others—note making, in-text citation and the preparation of a bibliography, to name but a few examples.” (Academic honesty in the IB educational context, IB, 2014)

Tools for detecting malpractice

The IB identifies a number of forms of malpractice. The largest detected form of malpractice is plagiarism which is defined as using the ideas, words or thoughts of another person in your own work without adequately and appropriately referencing them. Collusion is the next most used malpractice and is defined as supporting the misconduct of another student by allowing them to copy your work. Duplication of work is when a student submits the same piece of work for different assessment components. Other forms of malpractice that occur are taking unauthorized material into an examination, falsifying records (e.g. CAS record).

The internet contains a number of tools that students and teachers can use to detect plagiarism. Some are free services and some require the payment of a fee.

Free search tools

Google, Yahoo, Bing, Lycos, Altavista, Alltheweb.

When using these tools you will also need to use the Ctl+F (i.e. find key) to identify when words occur together.

Fee based search tools

Turn It In, Urkund

Activity 3: Detecting malpractice

The purpose of this activity is to help staff use the search tools when teaching about the importance of academic honesty. They are essentially learning tools for students.

  • Select a few student assignments and make them anonymous for this exercise. Ensure that some have examples of plagiarism in them.
  • Staff use the different search tools available to detect malpractice.
  • Discussion on what counts as (a) appropriate and inappropriate citation; (b) plagiarism; (c) appropriate and inappropriate paraphrasing.

Writing or reviewing your policy

Activity 4: Our approach to academic honesty

This activity helps you build on the understanding you have gained about the IB approach to academic honesty from activity 2 to write or review your own policy.

Use the Heart of the Matter protocol to have a table and then whole staff discussion (in plenary) on what is at the heart of your approach to academic honesty.

  • Use the themes you have agreed on in activity 2 as the statements you use in this exercise. Ensure that each table has a set of these themes written on strips of paper and placed in an envelope.
  • Draw a large heart in the middle of an A3 piece of paper.
  • Group opens envelope and examines contents together.
  • Group arranges statements in order of importance.
  • Group constructs a proximal map putting the most important statement, word or priority, closest to the centre of the heart. All statements are arranged in order of importance and their relationship with each other.
  • Share completed map with another group and adjust your map if necessary.
  • Construct an agreed map and be prepared to explain it to others.
  • Leader facilitates a plenary drawing out key themes and the thinking behind the decisions made.

Activity 5: Writing or revising your academic honesty policy

The IB (in Academic honesty in the IB educational context, IB, 2014, page 6) provides a good outline to help you write or revise your academic honesty policy. Use this, together with the notes below, to write or revise your school policy on academic honesty.

Key issues to consider

  • Prior to writing or revising your policy carry out an audit so you know what the state of play currently is in your school. Be honest in what you find.
  • Your policy could be written using the three broad headings of: Prevention (information provided to students in the form of student guides, teachers and parents about malpractice - collusion and plagiarism); Monitoring processes (professional training and the use of software); and Sanctions (school policies and IB regulations).
  • Include the IB definitions of plagiarism, collusion and duplication of work.
  • Make the link between academic honesty and the attributes of the IB learner profile.
  • Provide examples of correct citation and referencing.
  • Provide examples of correct and incorrect paraphrasing.
  • Be clear about the difference between appropriate collaboration and inappropriate collusion.
  • When do you provide students with academic guidance? When do you teach students to reference their work correctly? Who teaches this? What opportunities to practice this do students get?
  • How are teachers expected to model the policy? When was the last time staff were provided with professional development on academic honesty?
  • How do you publicize your academic honesty policy: to students, to parents?
  • When was your policy last revised? Who was involved in devising or reviewing your policy? Was your Librarian central to this process?
  • Who decides whether there has been malpractice?
  • Are you clear about what the punishments are for detection of malpractice? Have you used quotes from the IB?


Activity 6: Promoting academic honesty

  • Use the learning from this workshop to create a Top Tips presentation for use with students. The presentation should try and put an emphasis on the positive aspects of academic honesty and not focus just on how to avoid malpractice.
  • Consider how the librarian helps students to understand academic honesty?  What links do students have with local universities especially for accessing material to work on their extended essays?
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