Introduction to legal research

6. Academic misconduct

Academic misconduct occurs when a student cheats, plagiarises or colludes in the course of their studies. While the University takes seriously any allegations of academic misconduct, a proven instance of academic misconduct can have ramifications for your career as a lawyer.

Lawyers must be able to attest to their “fitness to practice” in order to be admitted. Even where a student admits to past academic misconduct courts may be hesitant about admitting the person to the profession.

UQ students are expected to complete Academic Integrity Modules (AIM). The modules will help you learn what academic integrity is, why it is so important, and how you can apply it in your learning. Completing these modules will help you develop your ethical decision-making skills and give you confidence to act with integrity in your studies.

What happened in "Re AJG"

In Re AJG [2004] QCA 88 the applicant disclosed an instance of substantial plagiarism during the admissions process. The court adjourned the applicant’s admission, writing:

"“Legal practitioners must exhibit a degree of integrity which engenders in the court and in clients unquestioning confidence in the completely honest discharge of their professional commitments. Cheating in the academic course which leads to the qualification central to practice and at a time so close to the application for admission must preclude our presently being satisfied of this applicant's fitness”.


The University of Queensland takes plagiarism very seriously and it is a disciplinary offence. Plagiarism is defined by the University as:

the act of misrepresenting as one's own original work the ideas, interpretations, words or creative works of another either intentionally or unintentionally.

Most plagiarism is unintentional. It often occurs when you do not properly acknowledge the ideas or words of others that you use. You can avoid unintentional plagiarism by:

Accurate note-taking

As you are taking notes, ensure that you include the source citation. This will allow you to correctly reference the idea at a later date when you are writing your assignment.

Direct quotations

If you need to exactly copy a sentence or sentence fragment, use quotations marks to indicate it is a direct quote and make sure you reference the source citation.

Paraphrasing and summarising

You can paraphrase someone else’s text by rewriting it in your own words, or just summarise the key points of someone else’s text. In either case, you must correctly attribute and reference the original source citation.


Collusion occurs “when two or more students, or a student and any other person(s), act together to cheat, plagiarise or engage in other academic misconduct, or incite others to do so”. Working together with others on individual assessment pieces can be a form of collusion.

You have directly quoted another author in your assignment but forgot to include a reference to the citation where you obtained the quote. This was not intentional. Is this plagiarism?
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