The importance of academic integrity: AI and essay mills

As a Liverpool student you are expected to uphold the highest level of academic integrity by demonstrating authentic and ethical behaviour and conduct in all of your academic work.

All students submitting work for assessment are expected to adhere to the conventions of academic integrity by producing their own work, acknowledging explicitly any material that has been included from other sources or legitimate collaboration and presenting their own findings, conclusions or data based on appropriate and ethical practice.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Content generated through artificial intelligence tools such as (but not limited to) ChatGPT does not constitute a student’s own work and therefore, if you submit content generated by these tools as your own work, you would be in breach of the academic integrity policy.

Whilst much of the focus on tools such as ChatGPT within the education sector has been on the possibility of academic misconduct, such tools can also provide excellent educational and assessment opportunities.

It is possible that your lecturers and module leaders may include the use of such tools in learning and assessment tasks. If this is the case you will be expressly informed that in a particular task use of Generative AI tools will be permitted, and that you will be required to cite content generated by such tools. If content is attributed appropriately, this would not constitute a breach of academic integrity.

Overall, it is safest to assume that the use of Generative AI tools for assessment is prohibited, unless you are specifically informed otherwise.

Click here to read the University’s AI Student Briefing.

Essay Mills

Essay Mills are online platforms that facilitate contract cheating where someone else completes work for a student (in full or in part) which is passed off by the student as their own work.

Using Essay Mills is a type of academic misconduct.

Last year the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill became law so that essay mills are now also illegal, and it is a criminal offence to:

  • provide, or arrange for another person to provide, contract cheating services to students taking a qualification at a University or Higher Education Institution in England. A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine.
  • to advertise any service or individual that is offering a cheating service. A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine.

What does the ban mean for students?

Students should not use any material provided as a result of an Essay Mills service in completing all or part of the assignment. You should not engage with or respond to their advertising.

Please be aware that while it is not a criminal offense to make use of a contract cheating service, this is deemed as ‘severe academic misconduct’ and could lead to disciplinary action by the University.

What should I do if targeted by Essay Mills?

Essay Mills will often disguise themselves as ‘proofreading’, ‘tutorial’ and ‘academic support’ services. They may target you via email, text, pop-up and social media advertising.

If you receive this type of marketing you should:

  • Delete it immediately
  • Do not use click though links
  • Do not offer any personal information or contact details

In need of academic or assessment support?

If you need any academic or assessment support, please contact your School Office.

You can also find a range of online resources in the Know How area on Canvas, as well as the in-person workshops to support the development of academic skills.

The Liaison Librarian for your subject can offer specialist subject support when researching for your assignments, and you can book an online appointment with a Liaison Librarian online.

Take a look at this KnowHow tutorial to find out more about what academic integrity is and why it is so important.