Academic Honesty

Academic Honesty

Statement of Academic Honesty
Each student shall be honest in her academic work and shall support the honesty of others.  She shall, moreover, guard against any appearance of dishonesty.  Faculty members have a responsibility to refer to the College policy on academic honesty at the beginning of each course.  Teachers shall foster the honesty of their students by conducting each course in a manner which discourages cheating or plagiarism.  They shall, moreover, thoroughly investigate any evidence of cheating in their classes.  Course instructors who have evidence of cheating or plagiarism shall make the charge and any subsequest action known to the student.  Only then shall an appropriate penalty be imposed.  It is recommended that the instructor submit in writing the name of any student found guilty of academic dishonesty serious enough to have been penalized, along with a description of the penalty imposed, to the Associate Dean for Advising and Director of First Year Studies.  Such reports will be kept in confidence, except in the case of continued violations by a student, in which case the reports may be presented to the Committee on Academic Standards.

The instructor of the course in which a violation of academic honesty occurs will determine an appropriate penalty.  Penalties may range from a refusal of credit for an individual assignment to failure in the course, depending on the seriousness of the offense.  In cases recommended to it for further consideration, the Committee on Academic Standards may also recommend other penalties, including academic dismissal from the College.

In addition:

  1. Any member of the College community is encouraged to report a violation of academic honesty of which he or she has evidence to the instructor of the course.
  2. Any member of the College community has the right to refer a violation of academic honesty of which he or she has evidence to the Associate Dean for Advising and Director of First Year Studies for further consideration.
  3. Any student has the right to refer an accusation of academic dishonesty or a grade resulting from such an accusation to the Associate Dean for Advising and Director of First Year Studies for further consideration.
  4. At the written request of any involved party, the Associate Dean for Advising and Director of First Year Studies shall refer an appeal to the Committee on Academic Standards for a wider hearing.

At the discretion of the Associate Dean for Advising and Director of First Year Studies, a case involving repeated violations of academic honesty by a student may be referred to the Academic Standards Committee for further consideration and possible disciplinary action.  The student involved will be notified before any such referral is made.

Violation of Academic Honesty
When a student submits any work for academic credit, she makes an implicit claim that the work is wholly her own, done without the assistance of any person or source not explicitly noted, and that the work has not previously been submitted for academic credit in any other area.  Students are free to study and work together on homework assignments unless specifically asked not to by the instructor.  In the case of examinations (test, quizzes, etc.), the student also implicitly claims that she has obtained no prior unauthorized information about the examination, and that she will neither give nor obtain any assistance during the examination.  Morever, a student shall not prevent others from completing their work.

Examples of violation include but are not limited to the following:

  1. supplying or receiving completed papers, outlines, or research for submission by any person other than the author;
  2. submitting the same, or essentially the same, paper or report for credit on two different occasions;
  3. supplying or receiving unauthorized information about the form or content of an examination prior to its administration - specifically including unauthorized exam material prior to the exam;
  4. supplying or receiving partial or complete answers, or suggestions for answers, assistance in the interpretation of questions on any examination from any source not explicitly authorized, including copying or reading another student's work or consulting notes or other sources during examination;
  5. copying or allowing the copying of assigned work or the falsification of information;
  6. removing study or research materials or equipment intended for common use in assigned work without authorization;
  7. altering any materials or apparatus and, thereby, interfering with another student's work; and
  8. plagiarism (see the following statement in which plagiarism is defined).

Any exception to the above must be explicitly stated by the person giving academic credit for the work.

A Note on plagiarism
Plagiarism means presenting, as one's own, the works, the work, or the opinions of someone else.  It is dishonest, since the plagiarist offers, as her own, for credit, language, information, or thought for which she deserves no credit.  Plagiarism occurs when one uses the exact language of someone else without putting the quoted material in quotation marks and giving its source (exceptions are well-known quotations - from the Bible or Shakespeare, for example).  In formal papers , the source is acknowledged in a footnote; in informal papers, it may be put in parentheses or made a part of the text: "Robert Sherwood says..." This first type of plagiarism, using without acknowledgement the language of someone else, is easy to understand and to avoid.  When a writer uses the exact words of another writer or speaker, she must enclose those words in quotation marks and give their source.

A second type of plagiarism is more complex.  It occurs when the writer presents, as her own, the sequence of ideas, the arrangement of material, and /or the pattern of thought of someone else, even though she expresses it in her own words.  The language may be hers, but she is presenting and taking credit for the work of another.  She is, therefore, guilty of plagiarism if she fails to give credit to the original author of the pattern of ideas.

Students writing informal theses, in which they are usually asked to draw on their own experience and information, can guard against plagiarism by a simple test.  They should be able to answer NO to the following questions:

  1. Am I deliberately recalling any particular source of information as I write this paper?
  2. Am I consulting any source as I write this paper?

If the answer to these questions is NO, the writer need have no fear of using sources dishonestly.  The material in her mind, which she will transfer to her written paper, is genuinely digested and her own. 

The writing of a research paper presents a somewhat different problem; the student is expected to gather material from books and articles read for the purpose of writing the paper.  In the careful research paper, however, (and this is true of term papers in all college courses), credit is given in footnotes for every idea, conclusion, or piece of information which is not the writer's own, and the writer is careful not to follow closely the wording of the sources she has read.  If she wishes to quote, she encloses the passage in quotation marks and gives credit to the author in a footnote, but she writes the bulk of the paper in her own words and in her own style, using footnotes to acknowledge the facts and ideas taken from her reading. 

[Saint Mary's College, which has edited this material, reprints it with the permission of the publisher from Understanding and Using English, by Newman P. Birk and Genevieve B. Birk (Odyssey Press: 1972).]