Academic Integrity

Welcome to the page on Academic Integrity. In this section, we explore the topic of academic integrity in relation to the use of AI tools, specifically GenAI. Discover how GenAI can both pose challenges to academic integrity and be utilised ethically to enhance the learning process.

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Academic Integrity

While GenAI does pose a threat to academic integrity when used to bypass learning in the case of what the European Network for Academic Integrity (ENAI) terms “unauthorised content generation”, it can also be used ethically to enhance the learning process where appropriate. The ENAI recommends that staff and students be guided on the benefits and limitations of AI tools and that students be provided the opportunity to develop the skills required to work with increasingly ubiquitous AI technology in an ethical way. One way to achieve this is to introduce emerging technologies, including GenAI, into student learning alongside academic integrity so that students will be more likely to  associate the use of these with good practice.

Academic integrity is underpinned by six fundamental values outlined by the International Center for Academic Integrity: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage. Fostering academic integrity offers key motivating factors for student engagement, focusing on positive actions. Emphasising academic integrity in a developmental, educational approach also brings attention to the process of learning, the value in developing your skills, and the importance of being able to stand over your own work and take pride in it.

Introducing GenAI through a framework of academic integrity ensures that several key points are addressed before and during any potential use of these tools in the  academic setting. It also means that the same standards or expectations around the ethical use of GenAI apply equally to staff and to students, ensuring transparency and fairness. We can see this by applying the values of academic integrity to ethical use of GenAI.

Six Fundamental Values

Click on each of the icons below to learn more about how each of the six fundamental values can be applied in the context of GenAI.

Alternatively, download our PDF that frames GenAI through these values: Academic Integrity & Artificial Intelligence.

Ethical Considerations for Using GenAI in Education

When applying a framework of academic integrity to GenAI, several key themes emerge as requirements for the ethical use of GenAI in education.

The first of these is transparency. University staff can model this for students by acknowledging their own use of GenAI and explaining how and why they used it for this purpose. This helps to illustrate and differentiate between what might be considered acceptable or unacceptable use of these tools. For example, an educator might use GenAI to produce a list of potential essay questions for their module and subsequently reviews this list, select some of the best options and revises these to create the final assignment. This educator should be transparent about this with their students, explaining that using GenAI helped inspire some new ideas for them and describing their process of using it. This will model acceptable use for the students who may similarly use a GenAI tool to brainstorm some key points for their essay, going on to research these themselves to develop their response.

Further to this, clear guidelines that set expectations for how GenAI can and cannot be used (whether it is banned entirely or integrated into certain tasks) are important. It is possible that these may vary from module to module for students, so it is important that expectations are made clear in each module and that students are aware of these.

Finally, it is vitally important that critical thinking/analysis is paired with any use of GenAI tools in order to reduce potential harmful impacts resulting from the spread of misinformation and bias in the content these tools produce and to encourage learning. Students should be taught to critically engage with these tools. Content produced by GenAI can be usefully applied to exercises designed to help develop students’ critical thinking skills by tasking them with evaluating this content for accuracy and relevance. The Academic Integrity Fundamentals course, available to all UCC students in the Canvas Success Zone contains a module on the ethical vs. unethical use of GenAI that can help introduce students to critical AI literacy and GenAI in the context of academic integrity. It is recommended that all students engage with this course, which also covers principles of academic integrity, skills that support it, and various types of academic misconduct and associated risks.

Acknowledging Use of GenAI

As GenAI is an evolving field, guidance varies in terms of how to best acknowledge use of it. How we use GenAI differs in several ways from how we use academic sources and, as it is not considered an "author", how we acknowledge this use can also differ. However, it is important that we do acknowledge when and how we use it in order to maintain transparency about our own work.

Generally, this can take the form of a statement that details how a GenAI tool, such as ChatGPT was used (potentially including information on the prompting process, screenshots of output, or a link to the conversation thread).

An example of how this can be structured is as follows:

I acknowledge the use of [insert AI system(s) and link] to [specific use of generative artificial intelligence].

The prompts used include [list of prompts].

The output from these prompts was used to [explain use].

Setting Expectations

What is considered appropriate use of GenAI can vary across disciplines or even from module to module as this may be dependent on learning outcomes and what is being evaluated in a particular assessment. In some cases, GenAI may be integrated into learning activities or assignments, or allowed for certain tasks, but in other cases its use might be inappropriate as it bypasses key learning. This can be confusing for students as what is allowed in one setting may not be in another. This means that it is very important to set clear expectations on the use of GenAI in relation to your particular module/assessments. This can take the form of an AI Statement that you include in your course syllabus, in Canvas, and/or in assignment briefs. The statement should outline what is considered appropriate and/or inappropriate use of GenAI for your module. This may take the form of a checklist but should also explain why GenAI is not allowed (either for specific purposes or completely). For example, it may be important to develop foundational skills without the use of GenAI. The fundamental values of academic integrity can help frame this explanation and highlight the importance of learning and skill development.

Use of AI Detectors

There are an abundance of tools that claim to detect content generated by AI but these are not reliable. There are many isntances where these tools produce false positives and false negatives in their results, either marking human-produced content as generated by AI or not picking up on content that is generated by AI. This means that these detectors cannot serve as reliable evidence in cases where there is a suspicion that an individual has misrepresented AI-generated content as their own work.

In addition to their lack of reliability, there are copyright and privacy concerns related to use of AI detectors that are not institutionally approved (i.e., have not gone through the institution's procurement process). Educators should not run student work through any AI detector tools that are external to their institution as most of these tools train on content that is submitted to them and there can often be a lack of transparency around where this data is stored and how it is used. 

Further Information

Integrating Ethical Uses of GenAI

Incorporating GenAI software, such as ChatGPT, into higher education must be guided by a commitment to enhancing the learning experience, improving efficiency, and upholding ethical standards.

Find Out More

Toolkit for the Ethical Use of GenAI in Learning and Teaching

(AI)2ed Project

Toolkit for the Ethical Use of GenAI by Loretta Goff and Tadhg Dennehy, UCC Skills Centre. This work is licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International ,