The Bottom Line

Like other violations of university policy, allegations of academic dishonesty are reported to the Department of Student Development and Conduct Education for adjudication through the student conduct system. Many of these cases are heard by the University Board on Student Conduct, a student-faculty panel. For a summary of recent conduct cases, along with other information on community standards, please refer to the Student Affairs Web site.

Just Think

To Collaborate or Not to Collaborate?

In most cases, your grade in a course or on an assignment will be based upon your independent work — your answers to test questions, explanation of laboratory results, written analysis of an article or chapter or a paper comparing two theories or characters. It is not acceptable to give or receive assistance in completing such academic work.

You may be instructed to work jointly with another student or group of students to solve a problem or complete an assignment. In such instances, instructors will offer clear guidelines about when and how you may collaborate.

During in-class examinations, instructors expect you to keep your eyes on your own work, and to refer only to authorized materials. Sitting apart from your friends will reduce your opportunities to exchange glances or look at one another's papers.

If you are unclear about any instructions for a paper, lab report or exam, be sure to ask your professor to clarify the details before you begin working on the assignment. Also, read and follow instructions carefully.

Using References: Where to Draw the Line

Some of your written assignments will be based only on the work you have done in the context of the course: assigned readings, class discussions, special lectures or projects. Instructors are asking you to synthesize what you have already learned, perhaps to find new ways of looking at major themes, or to analyze the discoveries the class has made together. You are not likely to refer to other books or articles when preparing such an assignment.

If, however, you are asked to supplement your coursework with additional readings, be sure to keep careful track of the title, author, publisher and date of each piece you read, and include them as references at the end of your paper. For online sources, be sure to include the URL. Note, too, in the body of your paper, any theory or concept to which you were introduced by reading another author's work. Correct referencing demonstrates your effort in preparing the assignment, and acknowledges your understanding of the material.

Doing the Footwork on Footnotes

As you do research for your paper assignments, you will read material written by respected authors, published in scholarly journals, printed by major publishers and appearing on the World Wide Web. All ideas, phrases, sentences or paragraphs found in such materials, whether or not you use the exact words in quotation marks, must be footnoted if you choose to include them in your own work.

Determining when and how to footnote can be a challenge. As a general rule, you must footnote any words or ideas that are borrowed or paraphrased from another source. That source may be a printed book or article, but could also be a lecture, movie, audio tape, electronic file or Web site. All of these require accurate footnoting. It is not sufficient simply to list sources in your bibliography.

Be careful not to fall into the "but-it's-a-fact" trap! An author may supply information as factual; however, if you borrow the words describing that fact from the author, you must use quotation marks and a footnote. If you paraphrase factual information, it must be duly noted in your paper to distinguish it from your own writing.

Timing Is Everything

Get yourself on the right track at the start of each semester by noting all of your due dates for papers, assignments and exams on one calendar. Keeping yourself on a consistent study schedule throughout the semester will allow you to stay ahead of your work. Planning also allows you to put in maximum effort with a minimum amount of stress.

The books you want or the reserve reading you need may not be available in the library a few days before your assignment is due. If you choose to use the internet as a research tool, leave yourself plenty of time to synthesize the information you gather and put it into your own words.

Watch campus calendars for news of seminars on time management and stress management, which can help you develop strategies for success in handling the workload.

Truth or Consequences

Many students are unaware of how plagiarism and cheating are defined at the undergraduate and graduate-school level. Here are some examples of academically dishonest behaviors:

  • Possession or use of unauthorized materials during an exam.
  • Altering or tampering with the work of another student in a laboratory.
  • Purchasing a paper from a "paper mill" or from another student.
  • Incorporating published passages into your own paper without quotation marks and footnotes.
  • Copying from another student's research paper, exam or homework assignment.
  • Talking to another student during an exam.
  • Submitting the same assignment in more than one course without prior approval from the instructors.
  • Unauthorized collaboration with another student on a paper or project.
  • Taking an exam for another student:
    • Sharing your own work with another student to help her/him satisfy a course requirement.
    • Using text from Internet sources in an assignment without using proper citation.
    • Representing someone else's words or ideas as your own on a paper or exam.

Where to Go for Assistance

Never underestimate the value of professors' office hours. Scheduling a one-on-one meeting with a faculty member can help you determine your research plan, gain a greater understanding of the materials you have read or develop the confidence you need to complete the assignment.

Additional information about policies and procedures, and strategies for academic success, can be obtained by reading the Rights and Responsibilities section of the New Student Handbook; conferring with your instructor, adviser or dean; or consulting with professional staff in the Writing Center, the libraries and Student Enrichment Services.