Good Academic Practice

What does Good Academic Practice mean?

Good academic practice is the use of a formal, academic style. This includes review of appropriate reference materials that are related to the reading lists of the modules that you are studying. You may choose to include other reference sources, but you need to make sure they are published, scholarly works.

It also includes the use of a recommended referencing style, such as Harvard, APA, MHRA, MLA, IEEE, IOP, Footnote/Endnote, or others. Your department can give you guidance and more information and referencing examples are available through Aberystwyth LibGuides. Information will also be available through other resources your department provides (e.g. on Blackboard). 

If you're not sure where to find information about referencing or how to use it, talk to someone. You can get advice from your tutor and more information is available from your subject librarian. Training is also available through the Skills Coordinator Tutor.

Definitions of good practice

Aberystwyth University Statement on Good Academic Practice

Understand what the question is asking for

  • Key content words that are related to the topic or theme of the task. These are directly related to the subject matter.
  • Fixed process words that direct what you have to do. These are words like 'discuss', 'evaluate', 'analyse', etc.
  • Variable aspects of content or process, which allow you to discuss alternative issues according to your own interpretation or opinion. You can identify these through the wording, e.g. 'using an example of your choice',  
  • Ambiguities or aspects of the question that are not clearly defined or may be interpreted in more than one way. Ambiguities are not deliberately written into a question. If you are unsure about the focus of the question, ask for advice from a tutor or module coordinator.

How these points could be applied to an actual question

In the question below, there is considerable variation in what you can include in your essay.

Question: 'What is the difference between an entrepreneur and a manager? Discuss the management styles of an entrepreneur.'

  • Key words: entrepreneur, manager, management styles
  • Fixed process words: discuss, what is the difference between...? 
  • Variable aspects: what is the difference between...? 
  • Ambiguities: whether 'the difference' is singular, or whether there is a range of differences that you can select from and selectively address

Make sure you look at marking criteria before you start the essay

What do you need to do to achieve good marks on the following points?

How do these points vary in each of the different grade categories?

  • Answering the question (focus on main point)
  • Structure of essay or report
  • Objectivity and opinion (support your claims with evidence)
  • Depth of critical discussion (make sure all your paragraphs include statement, supporting evidence and explanation of critical value)
  • Adherence to word count (short essays typically lack points on supporting evidence and explanation)
  • Use and acknowledgment of reference sources (see your department's reference guide below)
  • Accuracy of language and use of formal academic language (avoid media style language, slang, abbreviations and check for repetitive use of words)
  • Layout and presentation
  • Other points

Useful link: Aberystwyth University Regulations on Academic Practice

Essential aspects of academic practice

Below is a series of PDF guides on specific aspects of academic practice. These guides can be used at any time during your studies and are recommended as essential reading. After consulting these guides, you should compare them directly with your department's style guide to see how you can individualise any of the information to your study needs. We also use extended versions of these guides in courses for students who need extra guidance on Academic Practice.

Unacceptable Academic Practice

What is Unacceptable Academic Practice?

The University regulations on unacceptable academic practice (UAP) are strict and they govern cases where a student has been alleged to have undertaken unacceptable academic practice (intentionally or otherwise).

The definition of ‘unacceptable academic practice’ is multifaceted but will in general involve instances of alleged plagiarism (e.g. using another person’s work without attributing it to them), conducting poor or inadequate referencing, re-cycling your own work from other assessments, and even collusion (i.e. working with another student to present their work as your own, or vice versa).

What the University says about Unacceptable Academic Practice?

It is Unacceptable Academic Practice to commit any act whereby a person may obtain, for themselves or for another, an unpermitted advantage. 

The University recognises the following categories of Unacceptable Academic Practice. These are not exhaustive, and other cases may fall within the general definition of Unacceptable Academic Practice.

(i) Plagiarism

  • Plagiarism is defined as using another person's work and presenting it as one's own, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Examples of plagiarism include:
    • Use of quotation without the use of quotation marks
    • copying another person's work
    • unacknowledged translation of another person's work
    • paraphrasing or adapting another person's work without due acknowledgment
    • unacknowledged use of material downloaded from the internet
    • use of material obtained from essay banks or similar agencies
    • presenting work generated by AI as if it were your own

(ii) Collusion

  • Collusion occurs when work that has been undertaken by or with others is submitted and passed off as solely the work of one person.

(iii) Fabrication of evidence or data

  • Fabrication of evidence or data and/or use of such evidence or data in assessed work include making false claims to have carried out experiments, observations, interviews or other forms of data collection and analysis. 

(iv) Unacceptable Academic Practice in formal examinations

  • introducing into an examination room and/or associated facilities any unauthorised form of material
  • copying from, or communicating with, any other person in the examination room 
  • communicating electronically with any other person, except as authorised by an invigilator
  • impersonating an examination candidate or allowing oneself to be impersonated
  • presenting an examination script as one's own work when the script includes material produced by unauthorised means
  • failing to comply with written directions to candidates in formal examinations

(v) Recycling of data or text

  • Recycling of data or text in more than one assessment, when this is explicitly not permitted by the Department.

More information: 

Students Union Advice:

Useful links