Sorry! De informatie die je zoekt, is enkel beschikbaar in het Engels.
This programme is saved in My Study Choice.
Something went wrong with processing the request.
Something went wrong with processing the request.

Academic Integrity - Be your best self

Last updated on 14 February 2023
Academic integrity: all the information, tips, tricks and resources you need to succeed in your educational programme and prevent cheating.

Fraud and plagiarism

As a student, you train to be an independently thinking professional and scientist. This requires an academic work attitude, for which you learn to trust your own critical ability and be judged on your own performance. Knowingly or unknowingly committing fraud doesn’t match the future professional you are striving to become. To help you prevent fraud, we have put together the most important information on fraud and plagiarism. We hope this will help you find the right support, tips, tricks, and resources to successfully pass your courses - without cheating.

Fraud may be tempting at times, but it’s not sustainable - you are only cheating yourself. When caught, your work will be declared invalid, or even have consequences for the entire class if you cheat together with others. Also, you can be sanctioned with exclusion from one or all exams for up to one year. And for the severest of cases: expulsion.

But do you actually know when something is considered fraud? You might already have an idea: when the work you submit isn’t your own, it constitutes to plagiarism or fraud. Also, there’s collusion or making up research data. 

You commit fraud when you or others make it impossible to assess your knowledge. This sounds maybe a bit cryptic. But let us examine it. When an examiner cannot establish if you or another person handed in original and self-generated work, the examiner cannot give a grade because it is not your or their actual knowledge they are assessing. This could for example happen if another student copies your work: your work is original, but because the other person copies it, not only your fellow student, but you will also be suspected  of attempted fraud.

We all know that some students cheat intentionally. But others cheat because of ignorance, carelessness, or because they succumb to pressure. Could that happen to you? How much do you really know about academic fraud? If you are new at VU Amsterdam, you can prevent unintentional fraud by reading and applying the rules:

It’s important to know and understand these because even if you don’t, you can still be held accountable. 

What are the consequences?

Do you know what happens when you do cheat? You may not find cheating very tempting when you know the possible consequences. When you are caught, your work will be declared invalid. The sanction is determined on an individual basis and details vary across faculties, but all students risk one of these sanctions:

  1. A reprimand; 
  2. Exclusion from the examination for this particular course;
  3. Exclusion from all examinations for up to one year;
  4. In a worst-case scenario, you can even be expelled from VU Amsterdam. 
  5. If large-scale fraud is suspected, an exam can be declared invalid for the entire class. So, fraud doesn’t just affect you, it can also hurt others.

Long term

If you get your degree through fraud or cheating, then you are setting yourself up for failure academically. This is because you have not acquired the knowledge, skills, and certainly not the academic competencies and attitude needed to be successful in life.  You will have trouble taking more advanced courses, and you may have problems in your professional life or academic career. What's more, should it later come to light that you have wrongfully obtained a degree, there will be major consequences for yourself and also the value of degrees from the institution as a whole. 

No need for panic

If you know the rules you can act accordingly and prevent suspicion of fraud. If at some point you are suspected of fraud, there is no need to panic. A suspicion of fraud does not always result in a ‘guilty’ verdict. You will get the opportunity to give a statement before any judgement is made.

Know the difference between peer learning and cheating

Peer teaching and peer learning are important and effective study strategies for students. However, giving a completed assignment to a friend who then copies content from your assignment, is not peer teaching. And copying answers is not peer learning.

Unintentionally or otherwise, by passing on the assignment to a fellow student you enabled cheating, and therefore you committed a violation. Even if you did not give permission to your friend to copy your work.

How can it be avoided?

Peer learning should be encouraged, since it helps students to learn how to teach. Instructors should explain effective peer teaching strategies such as working in pairs, sharing comments on their work, and brainstorming solutions to problems in groups. Sharing completed work, however, is not an acceptable peer learning technique and gives grounds to suspect you of academically dishonest behaviour.

Types of academic misconduct

  • Fraud

    The most common type of fraud is pretending that something is your own work when it is not. But there is more, the VU's definition of fraud includes: any act or omission by a student that makes it fully or partially impossible to properly assess the knowledge, insight and skill of that student or another student.

    What does that mean? These are some examples:

    • Sharing your work or answers with a student who has not completed the course;
    • Exchanging answers during an exam, for instance by using WhatsApp during an online exam;
    • Impersonation: doing someone else’s work for them and vice versa;
    • Publishing an exam or answer model online; 
    • Piggybacking in group assignments: letting others do all the work;
    • Using explicitly forbidden materials during exams, for example: books, a cheat sheet, a mobile phone or a calculator;
    • Looking at and copying work from another student;
    • Claiming the right to submit work after a deadline by falsely pretending to be victim of some unforeseeable circumstances; 
    • Possessing exam questions or assignments before an exam;
    • Paying someone to write your assignment;
    • Using GPT-3.5 or any other AI-writer to write your assignment.
  • Plagiarism

    Plagiarism means using others' work without acknowledgment or source references. That’s why it’s so important to learn the difference  between citing, paraphrasing and plagiarism. Scientific work is always based on the work that others have done before us. This means that you will often use texts written by others, and when done correctly this is perfectly normal. That is why it is vital to know how to apply the rules.

    Examples of plagiarism are:

    • Presenting something as your own work while using someone else's ideas, text, graphics, or code;
    • Forgetting to cite or give credit to original authors;
    • Being co-author of work that contains plagiarism.
  • Self-plagiarism

    Self-plagiarism means re-using one's own writing without sticking to the general rules of citing, paraphrasing and plagiarism. According to the American Psychological Association (2010), the following regarding reusing one's own text should be observed in general: "When duplication of one's own words is more extensive, citation of the duplicated words should be the norm", and "must conform to legal notions of fair use" (pg. 16). 

    This means when students work on the same topic multiple times, the students should treat their own writing as they would other authors and deal accordingly (proper citation and citing sparingly). If not properly cited, a teacher could conclude that a student has committed fraud because the work of a student submitted via Canvas/Ouriginal will be matched against previously submitted work. 

    Want to know more? Read the following articles:

  • Violating research principles

    It can be tempting to alter research outcomes: to leave out some results that do not conform with your hypothesis, or to beef up the numbers if your survey has only six respondents, for instance. Research fraud violates one of the main research principles: to carry out research with care. In your research reports, you clearly explain and justify your starting point and conclusions, and you are transparent about the way in which you reached your results.

    Examples of research principles violations:

    • Tampering with the data or the results;
    • Changing citations to align them with your research theory;
    • Distorting a source's original meaning (for instance by omitting relevant context).

Academic integrity — tips & links

You might be tempted to commit fraud due to stress, lack of time or peer pressure. But none of these constitute reasons to stretch the rules, and you should not be tempted to do so. In the university environment, you are being educated to become an academic with an independent mind. This includes developing an academic attitude, involving learning to trust your own critical faculties, accepting failure, and taking responsibility for your actions.

Witnessing academic fraud?

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam finds it important to ensure that any misconduct or wrongdoings within the organization can be reported safely. The Whistleblowers’ Regulations have been drawn up especially for that purpose. In this context, whistleblowing can be described as an employee or student of VU Amsterdam reporting suspicions of serious illegal or immoral practices. These practices are taking place under the responsibility of VU Amsterdam and in the context of which a significant general social interest or an interest of the institution itself is at stake. Fraud during exams is an example of an immoral practice.

So, if you have strong indications that your fellow students are committing fraud that might impact the reputation of your course, your faculty or VU Amsterdam, please come forward. How to do this? See this page.

Tips to boost your academic integrity


It is easy to resist the temptation of cheating, if you are confident and not afraid of failure. Below you will find some tips on how to boost your confidence and prevent fraud.

In general

  • Attend classes, study regularly and complete homework assignments;
  • Make a study plan;
  • Make use of online tutorials and practice materials;
  • Attend the discussion after each exam, so you can learn from your mistakes;
  • Get support from a student counsellor if you are anxious or find it difficult to plan or to study frequently;
  • See if there’s a relevant VU Amsterdam course to address your study challenges.

Before exams

  • Check Canvas, the course syllabus or the study guide for information about the exam. Never skip an exam’s cover page;
  • Ask your teacher what is not allowed if you are in doubt;
  • Leave the course’s WhatsApp group. If answers are shared in the group during the exam, you have avoided suspicion of fraud;
  • Avoid the temptation of peer pressure by putting your phone on silent/flight mode/switching off notifications. And keep it out of reach;
  • Prevent panic: try out online exam tools before the exam.

Group work

  • Make firm agreements about tasks during group assignments (see for example this information on making group contracts);
  • Try to take a different role for each assignment, so you learn all the necessary skills;
  • If a team member is lazy and talking does not help: consult the teacher ASAP.

Educate yourself

Make sure that you learn how to work with scientific sources and citing sources: