Mathematics and Computer Science Department Honesty Policy

Mathematics Department Guidelines on Academic Honesty

Work to which we sign our name represents us. The reader learns about our talent and our character. Well organized, carefully constructed, and neatly prepared papers reflect positively on the author. However, work misrepresented as our own reflects very negatively on the supposed author. Such work cheats the supposed author of a chance to learn and tarnishes her reputation.
Recognizing that a student can become confused about the issue of cooperation versus plagiarism, the department offers some guidelines. In all that follows, the student should be aware that depending upon the nature of the assignment, an individual instructor may relax or tighten these guidelines.

Work submitted by the individual, where discussion is allowed:

Generally, discussion of homework problems is encouraged. However, the written solutions should represent the individual's understanding of the material. The following actions are violations of the honesty policy:

  • preparing a common final solution,
  • writing down the solution, as dictated to you by another,
  • "borrowing" another student's homework to help you if you get stuck as you do the assignment
  • copying the solution from any other source (the back of the book or another text)

To avoid problems with this kind of assignment, we make the following suggestions to students:

  • Discuss a problem to the point where you think you can finish it on your own: do not work out all the details in the group. If you get stuck later, talk again with your classmates.
  • If you are writing up a solution to a problem discussed with others (either in a problem session or informally), recognize that such problems are usually not worked out in finished form. You should use the insights gained in the discussion to refine and rephrase the solution.

Preparing solutions independently is an integral part of the learning process. Being able to formulate a correct solution in your own words guarantees that you understand the concepts involved. Moreover, this formal independent writing of the solution reinforces your understanding of the material and methods. Finally, you get practice in expressing mathematical ideas and communicating your understanding of them to another.

Work submitted by a group:

When an instructor makes a group assignment, he/she intends the finished product to represent contributions from each of the members of the group. When you sign your name to such a project, the implication is that you have contributed your fair share of the work.

The following actions are violations of the honesty policy:

  • Putting your name on a project or report to which you have not contributed significantly
  • Allowing another student to sign her name to a group project to which she has not contributed. (Note: this is not "being nice;" it is doing something wrong. You are hurting the other person more than helping her.)

To avoid problems with this kind of assignment, we make the following suggestions:

  • Begin the project EARLY to allow time for snafus like the flu, schedule conflicts, or an uncooperative partner.
  • If there is a problem, first discuss it with the group members. Maybe the members just need to know that a certain behavior is unacceptable.
  • If the problem cannot be resolved within the group, go to the instructor EARLY.

Required papers:

Refer to the extensive discussion of plagiarism in the Student Manual.

Consequences of a violation of the Honesty Policy:

The individual instructor will determine the consequence of a violation of the honesty policy on the student's grade. Moreover, a report of the violation will be submitted to the Freshmen Office or the Academic Affairs Office, depending upon the year of the student.