Academic Conduct Code

Boston University’s Academic Conduct Code is designed to assist in the development of a supportive and productive learning environment.  It is both a description of the University’s ethical expectations of students as well as a guarantee of students’ rights and responsibilities as members of a learning community. The Code provides clarity related to policy and procedure regarding academic conduct.

For students, the Code establishes an environment of integrity and professionalism that helps to assure each individual of receiving appropriate recognition for his or her work.  The ethical decisions that students face in an academic environment are similar to those they will encounter routinely in the professional world they will enter upon graduation or where they are currently employed. The Code allows faculty to conduct a fair and accurate evaluation of student performance and to maintain a supportive and just learning environment. Academic integrity is a critical component of such an environment, giving faculty the freedom to extend their role as educators to include serving as mentors and colleagues as well as instructors. For administrative staff, the Code gives them the ability to deal more effectively with students, and to work on a student’s behalf both within the University and outside it.

This respect for universally recognized ethical values affects the University’s reputation in both the academic and professional communities of which it is a part. This reputation is essential to the success of not only the current generation of students, but previous and future generations as well.

All students entering Boston University are expected to maintain high standards of academic honesty and integrity. It is the responsibility of every undergraduate student to be aware of the Academic Conduct Code’s contents and to abide by its provisions. The Academic Conduct Committee of the individual School or College, which is composed of students, faculty and staff, has jurisdiction over all charges of academic misconduct brought against students.

In all charges of academic misconduct against a student, the student is entitled to full procedural fairness in any disciplinary proceedings. The Academic Conduct Code details the guidelines governing disciplinary proceedings. It also articulates the University’s philosophy of discipline, defines violations of the code, and enumerates penalties applicable under the code.

I. Philosophy of Discipline

The objective of Boston University in enforcing academic rules is to promote a community atmosphere in which learning can best take place. Such an atmosphere can be maintained only so long as every student believes that his or her academic competence is being judged fairly and that he or she will not be put at a disadvantage because of someone else’s dishonesty. Penalties should be carefully determined so as to be no more and no less than required to maintain the desired atmosphere. In defining violations of this code, the intent is to protect the integrity of the educational process.

II. Academic Misconduct

Academic misconduct is conduct by which a student misrepresents his or her academic accomplishments, or impedes other students’ opportunities of being judged fairly for their academic work. Knowingly allowing others to represent your work as their own is as serious an offense as submitting another’s work as your own.

III. Violations of This Code

Violations of this code comprise attempts to be dishonest or deceptive in the performance of academic work in or out of the classroom, alterations of academic records, alterations of official data on paper or electronic resumes, or unauthorized collaboration with another student or students. Violations include, but are not limited to:

  1. Cheating on examination. Any attempt by a student to alter his of her performance on an examination in violation of that examination’s stated or commonly understood ground rules.
  2. Plagiarism. Representing the work of another as one’s own. Plagiarism includes but is not limited to the following: copying the answers of another student on an examination, copying or restating the work or ideas of another person or persons in any oral or written work (printed or electronic) without citing the appropriate source, and collaborating with someone else in an academic endeavor without acknowledging his or her contribution. Plagiarism can consist of acts of commission-appropriating the words or ideas of another-or omission failing to acknowledge/document/credit the source or creator of words or ideas (see below for a detailed definition of plagiarism). It also includes colluding with someone else in an academic endeavor without acknowledging his or her contribution, using audio or video footage that comes from another source (including work done by another student) without permission and acknowledgement of that source.
  3. Misrepresentation or falsification of data presented for surveys, experiments, reports, etc., which includes but is not limited to: citing authors that do not exist; citing interviews that never took place, or field work that was not completed.
  4. Theft of an examination. Stealing or otherwise discovering and/or making known to others the contents of an examination that has not yet been administered.
  5. Unauthorized communication during examinations. Any unauthorized communication may be considered prima facie evidence of cheating.
  6. Knowingly allowing another student to represent your work as his or her own. This includes providing a copy of your paper or laboratory report to another student without the explicit permission of the instructor(s).
  7. Forgery, alteration, or knowing misuse of graded examinations, quizzes, grade lists, or official records of documents, including but not limited to transcripts from any institution, letters of recommendation, degree certificates, examinations, quizzes, or other work after submission.
  8. Theft or destruction of examinations or papers after submission.
  9. Submitting the same work in more than one course without the consent of instructors.
  10. Altering or destroying another student’s work or records, altering records of any kind, removing materials from libraries or offices without consent, or in any way interfering with the work of others so as to impede their academic performance.
  11. Violation of the rules governing teamwork. Unless the instructor of a course otherwise specifically provides instructions to the contrary, the following rules apply to teamwork: 1. No team member shall intentionally restrict or inhibit another team member’s access to team meetings, team work-in-progress, or other team activities without the express authorization of the instructor. 2. All team members shall be held responsible for the content of all teamwork submitted for evaluation as if each team member had individually submitted the entire work product of their team as their own work.
  12. Failure to sit in a specifically assigned seat during examinations.
  13. Conduct in a professional field assignment that violates the policies and regulations of the host school or agency.
  14. Conduct in violation of public law occurring outside the University that directly affects the academic and professional status of the student, after civil authorities have imposed sanctions.
  15. Attempting improperly to influence the award of any credit, grade, or honor.
  16. Intentionally making false statements to the Academic Conduct Committee or intentionally presenting false information to the committee.
  17. Failure to comply with the sanctions imposed under the authority of this code.

When an alleged Infraction occurs in a School/College other than the one in which the student is enrolled, the initial determination of misconduct will be made by the Academic Conduct Committee of the School/College where the alleged infraction occurred, while assessment of penalty will come from the student’s School/College of enrollment, based upon recommendation of the Dean and committee from the School/College where the infraction took place.

IV. Action on Suspected Violations

Every School or College shall designate an Assistant or Associate Dean with responsibility for administering the procedures set forth in this Code.

As a general rule, faculty who have reason to believe that a student has violated this Code shall meet with the student, personally or through a designee, inform the student of the suspected violation, and document the student’s response. Faculty members will then report suspected violations of the Code to the Assistant or Associate Dean using the “Faculty Report of Student Academic Misconduct.” This form will be accompanied by a statement indicating the supporting evidence upon which the faculty member has relied as well as the student’s response to the charges.

  1. Cases of Undisputed Academic Misconduct by the First-Time Offenders If the student has admitted to the academic misconduct and has never been found guilty of an academic conduct violation at Boston University, the faculty member may request the designated Dean’s authorization to sanction the student by means of grading penalty. In such a case, a student who has admitted to academic misconduct may agree to a grading penalty as determined by the faculty, up to and including a failing grade in the course. The faculty member will inform the designated Dean of the proposed grading penalty.The designated Dean will ascertain whether the student has previously signed an Admission of Academic Misconduct Form or has any prior record of academic misconduct in any College or School in the University. If so, the designated Dean will refer the charges and supporting evidence to the Academic Conduct Committee, which shall then proceed with a hearing. If not, the designated Dean, at his or her discretion, and taking into account the nature of the infraction, may grant written permission to the faculty member to enter into an agreement with the student for a grading penalty in lieu of proceedings before the Academic Conduct Committee.If such permission is received, the faculty member will inform the student of the option to agree to a grading penalty. If the student chooses this option, the agreement between the faculty member and student must be formalized through the University’s “Admission of Academic Misconduct” Form. An accused student is not compelled to sign such an agreement and may choose to exercise the right to have his or her case heard by the Academic Conduct Committee.
  2. Cases of Disputed Academic Misconduct or Cases of Repeat Offenders If the student disputes the charge of Academic Misconduct or if the designated Dean denies permission for a grading penalty because the student is a repeat offender or because of the nature of the offense, the designated Dean shall then refer the charges and supporting evidence to the Academic Conduct Committee, which shall then proceed with a hearing.

V. Penalties

  1. Students Who Sign Approved Admission of Academic Misconduct Forms Students who sign Admission of Academic Misconduct Forms shall receive the grading penalty noted on the form. Students will also receive a letter of reprimand from the designated Dean. The form and the letter of reprimand will be retained in the student’s file at the Dean’s Office, but shall not be recorded on the student’s permanent academic record. The reprimand will not be made public when records or transcripts are sent out. It may, however, be considered when reviewing the student’s eligibility for University programs and when imposing sanctions for future offenses. It may also be reported in response to a direct question about past academic misconduct or disciplinary sanctions from an undergraduate, graduate, or professional school to which the student seeks admission or from other authorized entities.
  2. Students Whose Cases Are Referred to the Committee Students who are not allowed the option of a grading penalty or who elect to have their cases heard by the Academic Conduct Committee may receive the sanctions of Reprimand, Disciplinary Probation, Suspension, or Expulsion only through action of the Academic Conduct Committee. However, faculty members always retain the right to assign grades reflecting their principled and equitable assessment of students’ work. If applicable, a faculty member may assign a grade of “I” in a course while a matter is pending before the Academic Conduct Committee. In a case in which the Academic Conduct Committee has found a violation of the Code, the ultimate grade assigned by the faculty member may also reflect the faculty member’s determination of how seriously overall course goals and expectations of the academic discipline are compromised by work involved in an incident of academic misconduct, and how that work should in consequence contribute to the final course grade.
  3. Students who believe that a faculty member has penalized them for alleged acts of academic misconduct without having followed the procedures set forth in this Code should make their concerns known as soon as possible to the designated Dean.
  4. If the accused is found by the committee to have committed academic misconduct, the committee may recommend any reasonable appropriate penalty. The penalty will generally be one or more of those listed below. However, because it is impossible to anticipate all variables of misconduct, the committee has broad power to fashion a sanction that is fair to the student, suitable to the offense, and effective as a future deterrent. The committee may recommend such other appropriate sanction as it sees fit.
    1. No penalty for minor violations that do not warrant sanction.
    2. Reprimand
      1. For violations of a minor nature or mitigated by extenuating circumstances.
      2. A copy of the reprimand shall be placed in the student’s file but shall not be recorded on the permanent academic record. Past reprimands may be considered in imposing sanctions for future offenses
      3. Reprimands are not to be made public when records, transcripts, etc., are sent out, but may be reported in response to a direct question about past academic misconduct or disciplinary sanctions from an undergraduate, graduate, or professional school to which the student seeks admission or from other authorized entities.
      4. Reprimands place no restriction on the student’s participation in academic or nonacademic School/College or all-University activities.
    3. Disciplinary Probation
      1. For violations deemed serious enough to warrant some abridgement of the student’s rights and privileges.
      2. Given for a specified period of time.
      3. Recorded on the student’s permanent internal record.
      4. Prohibits the student from being an officer in any recognized all-University or School/College student organization, and from participating in intercollegiate activities during the specified probation period.
    4. Suspension
      1. For violations deemed serious enough to warrant separation of the student from the University community for a limited time, but not serious enough to warrant expulsion.
      2. Given for a period of one to three semesters.
      3. Recorded on the student’s permanent internal record; the student’s external record shall carry the statement “withdrawn.”
      4. The student must apply to the Dean of his or her School/College for readmission, making a satisfactory statement concerning his or her interim activities and his or her intended future conduct.
      5. No academic coursework may be undertaken for Boston University credit, nor may any Boston University degree be conferred, during the period of suspension.
    5. Expulsion
      1. For extremely serious academic misconduct.
      2. Recorded permanently on the student’s academic record.
      3. Expulsion is permanent.
    6. Other sanctions
      1. Removal from a Professional Program. For violations involving conduct that is considered serious enough to withdraw the student from a program leading to a professional endorsement from the University. Such conduct may take place within a professional field assignment as well as the University. Removal from a professional program does not, in itself, bar the student from graduation.
      2. For serious misconduct, including but not limited to misconduct that occurred while the student was enrolled at the University but was discovered after graduation or conduct involving fraudulent use of University transcripts or degree certificates after graduation, or similar serious misconduct, recommendation of the committee may include withholding of transcripts or revocation of the degree.

VI. Dissemination of Information

  1. Notice of probation, suspension, or expulsion is sent to the parent or guardian of a student who has consented to the release of such information to his or her parents or guardians.
  2. Dissemination of information is governed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. http://www.bu.edu/reg/ferpa/ferpa-policy.html
  3. Penalties imposed through the Academic Conduct Code, including reprimands, may be reported to graduate and professional schools to which a student seeks admission, or to other authorized entities, notably in response to a question about past academic misconduct or disciplinary sanctions.
  4. Efforts will be made to ensure that students receive a copy of the Academic Conduct Code at their first registration at the University. The URL to the code will be provided to students by their School/College.

Student Academic Conduct Committee

I. Procedure

  1. The designated Dean will institute proceedings before the committee by forwarding the case to the Chair of the Academic Conduct Committee (committee). The committee shall consist of faculty and staff members appointed by the Dean and graduate students or advanced undergraduate students of not lower than junior-year standing, appointed by the Assistant or Associate Dean of the College. This committee has jurisdiction over every alleged act of academic misconduct on the part of (a) any student enrolled in the School/College, and (b) any student enrolled in a course taught in the School/College, whether that student is enrolled in that School/College or some other academic unit at the University or any other college or university. The committee will also have jurisdiction over every alleged act of misconduct pertaining to course credits earned in the School/College by any person. This shall include any person who has received a baccalaureate degree from the University.
  2. When students are called before Academic Conduct Committees of another School/College in the University, the designated Dean of the School or College holding the hearing shall inform the designated Dean of the School/College of enrollment of the nature of the charge and the time of the hearing. Whenever possible, a representative from the School/College of enrollment should be present at the hearing and deliberations.
  3. If the designated Dean refers the case to the Academic Conduct Committee, the Dean’s office shall inform the student (by hand-delivered or certified letter with return receipt, to be sent at least 12 days prior to the hearing) of the following matters:
    1. The charges.
    2. The date, time, and location of the hearing.
    3. The fact that the student may request to reschedule the hearing, within a limited time period, for a valid reason.
    4. The fact that the student may be accompanied by an advisor of his or her choice. At the discretion of the committee chair, the advisor may be allowed to make a brief statement on behalf of the student. The advisor may not participate directly in the hearing.
    5. The fact that the student may also bring witnesses to provide additional information related to the alleged offense. The chair may limit or exclude the matters presented by any individual to the extent that such information is repetitive or is not probative of the guilt or innocence of the student.
    6. The fact that he or she shall have the right to examine the person bringing the charges, to have access to all documents that have been introduced as evidence, to have copies of such documents prepared, and at the discretion of the chair and in a manner to be prescribed by the chair, to examine all witnesses
    7. The fact that the student may, but is not required, to submit a written statement and/or other documents for review by the Academic Conduct Committee, provided that any such written statement is prepared by the student (and not by his or her advisor), and provided that any statement or documents that student wishes the Academic Conduct Committee to review are received by the Dean’s Office at least seven (7) days prior to the scheduled date of the hearing. The Academic Conduct Committee reserves the right not to accept or review any materials that are submitted after this deadline.
  4. Waiver of 12-Day Notice. A student may waive the 12-day notice requirement. The committee may hold an expedited hearing when the Chair and student both believe that doing so is in the interest of fairness.
  5. Hearings
    1. Members of the committee may be excused if the case might involve a conflict of interest (e.g., kinship, teacher-student relationship, etc.).
    2. The Dean may appoint pro tempore members to replace regular faculty members who are unable to attend, or who have been excused.
    3. When students are called before Academic Conduct Committees of another School/College in the University, a representative from the home School/College student shall be invited to attend, but will not vote.
    4. No student shall be found guilty except on the vote of a majority of the voting members present at a hearing.
    5. The quorum for hearings shall be five voting members of the committee, at least three of whom shall be faculty members. Once the meeting is called to order, the departure or absence of one or more committee members shall not defeat the quorum and the meeting may continue to conclusion.
    6. The chair shall be counted as a voting member, but shall cast his or her vote only in order to break a tie vote.
    7. A hearing shall proceed in the absence of the accused student only if:
      1. The student waives the right to be present or
      2. The committee is satisfied that proper notice of the hearing was given to the student and that there is no legitimate cause for the absence.
    8. The hearing shall be recorded by sound recording. The recordings are to be preserved for one year. Any participant in the hearing may obtain a copy of the recording or the transcript of the hearing (if one is made, though the University is under no obligation to produce a transcript) at actual cost. Deliberations are private and are not tape-recorded.
    9. The Chair in his or her discretion shall administer the hearing to promote fairness. Subject to that discretion, the hearing shall include:
      1. Presentation of charges by the committee chair.
      2. Presentation and examination of material evidence and witnesses by the committee and by the accused student(s) but excluding material relevant to sanctions to be imposed. In appropriate circumstances the chair may take steps to protect a witness through actions such as sequestering, withholding a witness’s identity, or taking testimony prior to a hearing.
      3. Statement by the accused student(s) and examination of the student(s) by the committee.
      4. Additional examination of witnesses if required.
      5. After excusing the accused student, and advisor, and witnesses, deliberation of the committee, which shall not be tape-recorded.
      6. Formulation of the judgment and assessment of any appropriate penalty by a majority vote of the members present.
    10. The chair shall make the necessary determination of the scope of the inquiry with a view to according full and fair exploration of relevant material. It is in the discretion of the chair whether to accept additional documents prepared by any of the witnesses and first offered at the time of the hearing.
    11. Because the hearing is not a court hearing, the committee is not bound by legal rules of evidence. However, every effort will be made to conduct hearings as fairly and expeditiously as possible.
    12. The hearing shall not be public, and information gained at the hearing shall be treated as privileged information by all participants. This does not bar the disclosure of the findings and recommendations of the committee to those authorized to receive such information. Inasmuch as this provision is for the protection of the accused student, it does not bar him or her from disclosing information pertaining solely to him or herself, if he or she wishes to do so, provided, however that in proceedings involving multiple students, no student should disclose information learned about any other accused student to any persons not participating in the hearing.
    13. At the request of the accused student, the chair of the Academic Conduct Committee may, at his or her discretion, elect to admit parents or legal guardians.
    14. The hearing shall be conducted with proper decorum. The hearing may be recessed by the chair if:
      1. Additional evidence or witnesses are needed.
      2. It is apparent that a fair hearing cannot be held because of disturbances, illness, or similar causes.
    15. The School/College may, from time to time, make public the facts and decisions of cases that come before the committee. However, such reports shall not reveal the name of any student, professor, or course involved in a case that has been heard by the committee.
  6. Recommendation
    1. Cases involving student enrolled in the School/College where the infraction occurred.
      The committee shall write up its recommendation including a statement of the charges, evidence, judgment, and recommended penalty, which shall be transmitted to the designated Dean as soon as possible after the hearing at which the judgment was made. With regard to the judgment, the designated Dean shall review the evidence supporting the committee’s findings. If necessary, the designated Dean may refer the matter back to the committee for further consideration and/or elaboration, or may request the transcript or recording of the hearing and/or copies of the evidence. However, the judgment of the committee shall not be replaced by a judgment more damaging to the student unless new evidence has been considered upon a rehearing. Similarly, with regard to the recommended penalty the designated Dean of the School or College conducting the hearing shall not impose more severe penalties than those recommended by the committee.
    2. Cases involving students enrolled in another School/College.
      If the accused student is not enrolled in the School/College where the infraction occurred, the designated Dean of the School/College conducting the hearing shall transmit the committee’s judgment and recommended penalty to the designated Dean of the student’s School/College. With regard to the judgment and recommended penalty, the designated Dean of the student’s School/College shall review the evidence supporting the committee’s findings. If necessary, the designated Dean may refer the matter back to the committee for further consideration and/or elaboration, or may request the transcript or recording of the hearing and/or copies of the evidence. However, the judgment of the committee shall not be replaced by a judgment more damaging to the student unless new evidence has been considered upon a rehearing. With regard to the recommended penalty, the designated Dean is not bound by the committee’s recommendation, but shall make an independent determination of the appropriateness of the recommended penalty, and may impose a penalty that is greater or lesser than that recommended by the committee.
  7. The designated Dean of the student’s School/College shall notify the student by certified or personally signed for letter of the judgment and penalty imposed. The student shall also be informed that there is a procedure for appeal.

II. Appeals

  1. All decisions may be appealed to the designated Dean of the School/College in which the student is enrolled. Such appeals must be filed within 14 days of receipt of the judgment and penalty.
  2. A student who is appealing is entitled to receive a copy of all materials considered by the committee, a copy of the tape recording of the hearing, and a copy of the committee’s report.
  3. When a student is enrolled in a School/College other than the School/College where the case was heard and is appealing both the judgment and penalty, the Dean of the student’s School/College shall request that the Dean of the School/College where the case was heard render a decision on the appeal of the judgment. Thereafter, the Dean of the student’s School/College of enrollment will render a decision on the appeal of the penalty.
  4. Standard on Appeal: The decision of the designated Dean should be upheld unless it appears on appeal that the decision was unreasonable and unfair. The Dean will notifiy the student of the decision. The letter shall also inform the student of the procedure for appeal to the University Provost.
  5. Within fourteen days of the receipt of the Dean’s final response to appeals within the School/College, a student may appeal the judgment or the penalty to the University Provost. Appeals are to be in writing, setting forth the basis of the appeal and whether the student is appealing the judgment, the penalty, or both.
  6. The Provost shall review the documentation, and when deemed necessary, may refer the appeal back to the original committee for clarification and comments.
  7. Normally, a rehearing will be ordered only if new evidence is presented or a procedural error is identified. The procedure at a rehearing is the same.
  8. After the hearing, a recommendation to the Provost is to be made, as described in section I. E. (“Recommendation”), above.
  9. Before making a decision, the Provost may conduct his or her own investigation if he or she feels it is warranted.
  10. The decision of the Provost is final [except that, in cases of degree revocation, in which instance, the student may appeal to the President, whose decision shall be final].

III. Reporting and Documenting Procedures

All evidence should be carefully documented using the guidelines set forth below:

  1. The person originating the charges shall present them in writing, accompanied by suitable exhibits, to the Office of the Dean. That person shall make himself or herself available to the designated Dean for pre-hearing conferences if necessary, and shall appear at or be available for the student academic conduct hearing whenever possible. However, the Chair shall have the discretion to excuse the complainant’s attendance if the absence will not prejudice the student.
  2. Witnesses to the alleged infraction of the Student Academic Conduct Code may be requested to file a report on the incident and shall make themselves available for prehearing conferences and student academic conduct hearings.
  3. The following are the guidelines for obtaining evidence of violations of the Student Academic Conduct Code in connection with:
    1. Conduct During Examinations. If an irregularity occurs during an examination, the person who originally notes the irregularity should attempt to have his or her observations corroborated by others who are also in the room (e.g., proctors). The person(s) making the report shall provide specific information such as the time of the observation, type or irregularity observed, number of times it took place, exactly which sections of the examination were affected by the infraction, the name of each individual participating in the irregularity, and the extent of participation by each individual.
    2. Papers, Reports, and Examinations. If the misconduct is inferred from the appearance and/or content of a paper, examination, or other assignment where the professor or proctor has had no chance to observe the actual process, specific reference should be made to each section that gives evidence of misconduct. Where possible, copies of pertinent sections or answers and copies of any other pertinent material (original sources from which section or sections were allegedly plagiarized, and so on) should be submitted with the report to the Dean.
    3. Other types of academic misconduct. Reports should be prepared using the same rules of careful observation and accurate documentation as outlined above.

Plagiarism

A Definition of Plagiarism

The following definition of plagiarism is taken from H. Martin and R. Ohmann’s The Logic and Rhetoric of Exposition, revised edition, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1963.

“The academic counterpart of the bank embezzler and of the manufacturer who mislabels products is the plagiarist, the student or scholar who leads readers to believe that what they are reading is the original work of the writer when it is not. If it could be assumed that the distinction between plagiarism and honest use of sources is perfectly clear in everyone’s mind, there would be no need for the explanation that follows; merely the warning with which this definition concludes would be enough. But it is apparent that sometimes people of goodwill draw the suspension of guilt upon themselves (and, indeed, are guilty) simply because they are not aware of the illegitimacy of certain kinds of “borrowing” and of the procedures for correct identification of materials other than those gained through independent research and reflection…

“The spectrum is a wide one. At one end there is a word-for-word copying of another’s writing without enclosing the copied passage in quotation marks and identifying it in a footnote, both of which are necessary. (This includes, of course, the copying of all or any part of another student’s paper.) It hardly seems possible that anyone of college age or more could do that without clear intent to deceive. At the other end there is the almost casual slipping in of a particularly apt term which one has come across in reading and which so admirably expresses one’s opinion that one is tempted to make it personal property. Between these poles there are degrees and degrees, but they may be roughly placed in two groups. Close to outright and blatant deceit—but more the result, perhaps, of laziness than of bad intent—is the patching together of random jottings made in the course of reading, generally without careful identification of their source, and then woven into the text, so that the result is a mosaic of other people’s ideas and words, the writer’s sole contribution being the cement to hold the pieces together. Indicative of more effort and, for that reason, somewhat closer to honest, though still dishonest, is the paraphrase, an abbreviated (and often skillfully prepared) restatement of someone else’s analysis or conclusion, without acknowledgment that another person’s text has been the basis of the recapitulation.”

Examples of Plagiarism

[From H. Martin and R. Ohmann, The Logic and Rhetoric of Exposition, revised edition, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1963.]

The examples given below should distinguish between dishonest and the proper use of source material. If instances occur which these examples do not seem to serve as a model, conscience will, in all likelihood, be prepared to supply advice.

The Source

“The importance of the Second Treatise of Government printed in this volume is such that without it we would miss some of the familiar features of our own government. It is safe to assert that the much criticized branch known as the Supreme Court obtained its being as a result of Locke’s insistence upon the separation of power; and that the combination of many powers in the hands of the executive under the New Deal has still to encounter opposition because it is contrary to the principles enunciated therein, the effect of which is not spent, though the relationship may not be consciously traced. Again we see the crystallizing force of Locke’s writing. It renders explicit and adapts to the British politics of this day the trend and aim of writers from Languet and Bodin through Hooker and Grotius, to say nothing of the distant ancients, Aristotle and the Stoic School of natural law. It sums up magisterially the arguments used through the ages to attack authority vested in a single individual, but it does so from the particular point of view engendered by the Revolution of 1688 and is in harmony with the British scene and mental climate of the growing bourgeoisie of that age. Montesquieu and Rousseau, the framers of our own Declaration of Independence, and the statesmen (or should we say merchants and speculators?) who drew up the Constitution have re-echoed its claims for human liberty, for the separation of powers, for the sanctity of private property. In the hands of these it has been the quarry of liberal doctrines; and that is has served the Socialist theory of property based on labor is final proof of its breadth of view.”

—Charles L. Sherman, “Introduction” to Treatise of Civil Government and A Letter Concerning Toleration by John Locke

1.Word-for-Word Plagiarizing

“It is not hard to see the importance of the Second Treatise of Government to our own democracy. Without it we would miss some of the most familiar features of our own government. It is safe to assert that the much criticized branch known as the Supreme Court obtained its being as a result of Locke’s insistence upon the separation of powers; and that the combination of many powers in the hands of the executive is contrary to the principles enunciated therein; the effect of which is not spent, though the relationship may not be consciously traced. The framers of our own Declaration of Independence and the statesman who drew up the Constitution have re-echoed its claims for human liberty, for the separation of powers, for the sanctity of private property. All these are marks of influence of Locke’s Second Treatise on our own way of life.”

In this example, after composing half of the first sentence, the writer copies exactly what is in the original text, leaving out the center section of the paragraph and omitting the names of Montesquieu and Rousseau where he takes up the text again. The last sentence is also the writer’s own.

If the writer had enclosed all the copied text in quotation marks and had identified the source in a footnote, he would not have been liable to the charge of plagiarism; a reader might justifiably have felt, however, that the writer’s personal contribution to the discussion was not very significant.

2. The Mosaic

“The crystallizing force of Locke’s writing may be seen in the effect his Second Treatise of Government had in shaping some of the familiar features of our own government. That much criticized branch known as the Supreme Court and the combination of many powers in the hands of the executive under the New Deal are modern examples. But even the foundation of our state—the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution—have re-echoed its claims for human liberty, for the separation of powers, for the sanctity of private property. True, the influence of others is also marked in our Constitution—from the trend and aim of writers like Languet and Bodin, Hooker and Grotius to say nothing of Aristotle and the Stoic school of natural law; but the fundamental influence is Locke’s Treatise, the very quarry of liberal doctrines.”

Note how the following phrases have been lifted out of the original text and moved into new patterns:
“crystallizing force of Locke’s writing”
“some of the familiar features of our own government”
“much criticized branch known as the Supreme Court”
“combination of many powers in the hands of the executive under the New Deal”
“have re-echoed its claims for human liberty…property”
“from the trend and aim…Grotius”
“to say nothing of Aristotle and…natural law”
“quarry of liberal doctrines”

As in the first example, there is really no way of legitimizing such a procedure. To put every stolen phrase within quotation marks would produce an almost unreadable, and quite worthless, text.

3. The Paraphrase

Paraphrase
“Many fundamental aspects of our own government are apparent in the Second Treatise of Government. One can safely say that the oft-censured Supreme Court really owes its existence to the Lockean demand that powers in government be kept separate; equally one can say that the allocation of varied and widespread authority to the President during the era of the New Deal has still to encounter opposition because it is contrary to the principles enunciated therein… Once more it is possible to note the way in which Locke’s writing clarified existing opinion.”

Original
“Many familiar features of our own government are apparent in the Second Treatise of Government. It is safe to assert that the much criticized… Court obtained its existence upon separation of powers; and that the combination of many powers in the hand of the executive under the New Deal has still to encounter opposition because it is contrary to the principles enunciated therein… Again we see the crystallizing force of Locke’s writing.”

The preceding comparison shows how the writer has simply traveled along with the original text, substituting approximately equivalent terms except where his or her understanding falters, as it does with “crystallizing,” or where the ambiguity of the original requires too much ingenuity to decipher, as it apparently does as in “ to encounter opposition…consciously traced” in the original.

Such a procedure has its uses; for one thing, it is of value to the reader. How, then, may it properly be used? The writer might begin second sentence with “As Sherman notes in the introduction to his edition of the Treatise, one can safely say…” and conclude the paraphrase passage with a footnote giving the additional identification necessary. Or he or she might indicate directly the exact nature of what is being done, in this fashion: “To paraphrase Sherman’s comment…”and conclude that also with a footnote indicator.

In point of fact, this course of action does not particularly lend itself to honest paraphrase, with the exception of that one sentence, which the paraphrase above copied without change except for abridgement. The purpose of paraphrase would be to simplify, or to throw new and significant light on a text; it requires much skill if it is to be used honestly, and should be used rarely by the student except for the purpose, as suggested above, of personal enlightenment.

4. The “Apt” Text

“The Second Treatise of Government is a veritable quarry of liberal doctrines. In it the crystallizing force of Locke’s writing is markedly apparent. The cause of human liberty, the principle of separation of powers, and the inviolability of private property—all three major dogmas of American constitutionalism—owe their presence in our Constitution in large part to the remarkable Treatise which first appeared around 1685 and was destined to spark within three years a revolution in the land of its author’s birth and, ninety years later, another revolution against that land.”

Here the writer has not been able to resist the appropriation of two striking terms—“quarry of liberal doctrines” and “crystallizing force”; a perfectly proper use of the terms would have required only the addition of a phrase: “The Second Treatise of Government is, to use Sherman’s suggestive expression, a “quarry of liberal doctrines.” In it the “crystallizing force”—the term again is Sherman’s—of Locke’s writing is markedly apparent.”

Other phrases in the text above—“the cause of human liberty,” “the principle of the separation of powers,” “the inviolability of private property”—are clearly drawn directly from the original source, but are so much matters in the public domain, so to speak, that no one could reasonably object to their reuse in this fashion.

Since one of the principal aims of college education is the development of intellectual honesty, it is obvious that plagiarism is a particularly serious offence, and the punishment for it is commensurately severe. What a penalized student suffers can never really be known by anyone except that student. The student who plagiarizes and “gets away with it” suffers something less public, and probably less acute, but the corruptness of the act, the disloyalty and baseness it entails, must inevitably leave a mark on him or her, as well as on the institution.

5. Excessive Collaboration

The following example illustrates the distinction between authorized and excessive collaboration.

In a laboratory course, students may work together in a group, collecting the same data. In the syllabus, the instructor has stated that collaboration on laboratory exercises is allowed up to the point of discussing procedures and checking on the consistency of data to guard against typographical errors. The professor has made clear, however, that each student must analyze the data and answer the questions in the laboratory book independently. While writing up the exercise, one student asks another group to show him the graphs that the second student plotted using the data. Realizing that his own graphs were in error, he draws new graphs that correspond to those of the second student.

In this example, the first student has clearly exceeded the extent of collaboration allowed according to the syllabus. By allowing the first student to view her graphs, which were part of the analysis of the data, the second student has given unauthorized information to the first student. Both are therefore guilty of violations of the Academic Conduct Code.

Note that if the extent of the collaboration allowed is not stated explicitly in the syllabus, the students in the class must assume that no collaboration whatsoever is allowed after the group works together in the laboratory.

Documenting Sources

1. Making a Bibliography or Works Cited Page; Using Footnotes

[Adapted from H. Martin and R. Ohmann, The Logic and Rhetoric of Exposition, revised edition, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1963.]

Essays written for college courses generally require the use of sources: books, periodicals, internet sites, and other documents containing information relevant to the topic of the essay to be written. Such sources are both documented within the essay, as either footnotes or parenthetical citations, and appended to the essay, in either a works cited page or a bibliography.

Very simply, a bibliography lists all the books, periodicals, internet sources, and other documents the writer looked at to prepare the essay, whereas the works cited page lists only the material the writer actually used to write the essay; a footnote or a parenthetical citation indicates very precisely the source of quotation, specific statement, or idea occurring in the text of the essay. For all such documentation, standardized systems have been developed so that readers anywhere can turn quickly from the footnote or parenthetical citation to the works cited or bibliographical listing to find the proper source for the material at hand. The three most frequently used formats are derived from the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA), The Modern Language Association Handbook for Writer’s of Research Papers (MLA), and the Chicago Manual of Style.

Students are obligated to discover and adhere to the citation format sanctioned by the faculty, course, or department for which the essay is undertaken.

Just as honesty requires quotation marks around any statement copied directly from a written or electronic source, it requires a footnote or a parenthetical citation to indicate the place from which information, ideas, or paraphrased reconstructions have been gathered and utilized in the text.

A fine bibliography or works cited page and careful citation, no matter how ably prepared, will not make up for the deficiency in reasoning, style, and substance of the essay proper, but they do enhance the value of good scholarly writing because they act as auxiliary agents in the process of communication.

2. Use of Sources Obtained from a Computer Network

The requirement to document, with proper citations, material obtained from sources other than the mind of the writer applies to words, ideas, drawings, images, and any other items obtained via electronic media such as the Internet. For example, if the writer paraphrases a paragraph from a Web site, the same procedure should be followed as outlined in item (5) above. The proper citation in the footnotes and bibliography should include the author (if known), the name or title of the electronic site, the date, and the URL or Internet address.

Some instructors may, at their discretion, forbid use of electronic sources for a given assignment or for all assignments in the course. If, despite this instruction, a student uses and cites an electronic source, a low grade may result, but the action by itself is not a violation of the Academic Conduct Code.

Appendix: Examples of Misconduct

The following list contains examples of academic misconduct, and is not intended to be complete. Note that, although the examples refer to written assignments and exams, the same rules apply to assignments and exams that are administered or presented orally or by some other non-written means. (Adapted from Academic Dishonesty among College Students, S. Maramark and M. B. Maline, U.S. Dept. of Education Report no. OR-93-3802, August, 1993.)

  • Copying from another student’s exam or assignment
  • Allowing another student to copy from your exam or assignment
  • Allowing another student to see your exam or to see part or all of your assignment before you hand it in, unless authorized by an instructor
  • Collaborating on assignments or take-home exams when instruction (or the syllabus) calls for independent work
  • Providing or receiving answers to an exam using a system of signals or other means of communication with another student
  • Bringing unauthorized materials to an exam without placing them where they cannot be used during an exam
  • Altering the answers to, or otherwise tampering with, exams or assignments after they have been handed in, without consent of the instructor
  • Taking an exam or completing part or all of an assignment for another student
  • Having another person take an exam for you or complete part or all of one or more of your assignments
  • Hiring a ghostwriter to write part or all of an assignment
  • Submitting all or part of a purchased term paper as your own
  • Using course materials, including lecture notes and excerpts from textbooks, in written assignments without proper citation
  • Downloading text, drawings, images, and other materials from the Internet and using these in written assignments without proper citation of the sources
  • Copying material without proper citation
  • Feigning illness to avoid taking an exam or handing in an assignment on time
  • Submitting the same term paper for credit to more than one course without permission
  • Reviewing a copy of the regularly scheduled exam prior to taking a make-up exam
  • Reviewing a stolen copy of an exam prior to taking the exam
  • Providing questions from a test given in on section of a course to students in another
  • Receiving questions from a test given in one section of a course from another student in another section before you have taken the test
  • Altering or forging an official document