Academic Integrity

When you enrolled in Penn State, you became a member of a prestigious and hardworking University community. As part of this community, you are subject to the same high standards and expectations as your professors, instructors, and teaching assistants. Central to protecting and promoting the University’s standards is the high value we place on academic integrity.

Your Role as a Student

It’s important to consider yourself as a vital and important participant in the University community. You are a scholar being educated by scholars, and protecting your reputation as such means diligently practicing the academic respect appropriate to your station.

In the plainest terms, this means acting responsibly, fairly, and honestly in all classes under all circumstances. Students sometimes find themselves tempted to violate standards of academic integrity in situations such as the following:

  • When you or someone you care about is not prepared for an exam
  • When you’re tired while working on a paper, and you want to use a quote but can't remember where you got it from
  • When someone else said something in just the right way and you can't think of any way to make it your own or to improve upon it

If such situations lead you to share answers with another student during an exam, or to use someone else's quotation or idea without proper attribution, you are violating standards of academic integrity and jeopardizing your academic standing.

Be conscientious. When in doubt, talk over your concerns with your professors. They can assist you in learning how to navigate the rules of responsible academic scholarship. They, too, must practice them daily.

Violation Review Process

If a student is alleged to have committed an academic integrity violation, the following process is followed:

  1. The faculty member informs the student of the allegation and provides the student with an opportunity to respond.
  2. If the allegation is founded, the faculty member will enter a charge and academic sanction via the University’s online Academic Integrity Portal.
  3. The student will have the choice to accept or contest the charge. If the student fails to sign the Academic Integrity Form by a specified deadline (five days), the charge and sanction will go into effect.
  4. In some cases, if the academic violation is considered extreme, the faculty member may also opt to pursue a disciplinary action in conjunction with both the IST Academic Integrity Committee and Office of Student Conduct (OSC).
  5. In situations where the allegation is referred to the OSC, the academic sanctions will be carried out by OSC in consultation with the IST Academic Integrity Committee.
  6. Once a student has been informed that academic dishonesty is suspected, the student may not drop the course during the adjudication process. A student who has received an academic sanction as a result of a violation of academic integrity may not drop or withdraw from the course at any time. Any such drop action of the course will be reversed.
  7. A student that drops the class ahead of the academic integrity process but after being informed will be re-enrolled and the process will proceed.

Protecting Your Academic Integrity

Working with others on assigned group projects is fine, provided everyone contributes equally and is given credit for their fair share of work. Though difficult to enforce, your sense of academic integrity should compel you to do right by your group members.

Show up for all meetings and participate, distribute tasks fairly, and remember that fair does not always mean perfectly equal. Ideally, you want to make use of each group members’ strengths to create a final product of which the whole group is proud. Serious scholars teach each other, give thoughtful reactions to others’ work, and provide constructive criticism.

The most important takeaway regarding academic integrity and group work is that each member is responsible for deliverables and submissions made by and for the group. That means that you must guard against an AI violation made on your behalf by a member of your team who submits material that is flagged for an AI violation. Protect yourself! Read and account for the entire project, not just your individual contribution.

The most common risk to your academic integrity when working on a solitary project is plagiarism. When researching, keep scrupulous notes on the materials you're referenced. While it’s natural, and often required, to consult outside sources when working on a writing assignment. Any outside material you quote or paraphrase must be appropriately documented. This holds true whether you intended to plagiarize or not. Unintentional plagiarism is still plagiarism. When in doubt, document! Take the initiative to learn responsible research techniques and avoid unintentional plagiarism.

Another threat to your academic integrity comes in your well-meaning intentions. You may want to help out a struggling friend or panicked neighbor by allowing him or her to copy your work or by giving them a whispered answer during a test. Doing so, however, is cheating, and although the desire to help is understandable, you sacrifice their learning—and your academic integrity—by giving in. Resist the urge to do “favors.”

A rising trend across the University and the college is the posting and/or retrieval of material from course-share sites. Generally speaking, the uploading materials to a course-share site is viewed as an Intellectual Property violation, and the downloading and use of materials from a course-share site a violation of academic integrity. If you have questions regarding the specific use of such a site, seek clarification directly from your instructor.

Keep an attitude of respect for yourself and others at all times. When you’re committed to doing your best, you will find that academic integrity becomes an inherent part of your scholarship. You will also benefit from the confidence you build by doing well legitimately and by feeling secure that others are doing well (or not) legitimately.

You will also find that as you practice academic integrity as a matter of course, you earn the respect of students and faculty alike, and will be accepted readily as an important contributor to the Penn State community’s well-being and success.

Plagiarism is the act of representing someone else’s words or ideas as your own. Whether deliberate or unintentional, it is a serious breach of academic integrity that carries serious consequences. The best protection against unintentional plagiarism is to educate yourself.

  • Learn about the various forms of plagiarism and how to avoid them. The Penn State Department of English Types of Plagiarism document includes excellent definitions and examples of plagiarism by paraphrase and mosaic plagiarism. Also see the iStudy for Success! Academic Integrity Module for further examples of plagiarism.
  • Practice responsible research techniques. Penn State’s Citation and Writing Guides website provides a wealth of information on identifying and locating resources; using periodicals, journals, and online sources; citing your sources; and more.
  • Keep a writer's guide close by as you write. A Writer's Reference by Diana Hacker provides information on how to cite your research materials. Specific samples illustrate the appropriate style for works cited pages, in-text citations, and manuscript formats.
  • When in doubt, ask for help. Your instructor and the peer tutors at the Writing Center are available to answer questions regarding proper citation of outside sources.

The consequences for violating the college's Academic Integrity standards are serious. Outcomes range from failing the assignment or the course to receiving a disciplinary action, such as academic probation or dismissal from the academic program. By being proactive about maintaining your academic integrity, you can avoid these punitive measures.


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