Academic Integrity

Academic Integrity
Academic Integrity

Students are responsible for understanding academic integrity, how to avoid academic misconduct, and academic dishonesty. Copying from online or prohibited sources, collaboration with outside sources, hiring someone to complete your coursework, and plagiarism are prohibited in Penn State courses.

If you have questions about academic integrity, you should seek guidance before you submit work for evaluation. Often, you can find helpful information in your course syllabus. You may also seek guidance from your instructor and from our Office of Academic Integrity. For an overview of University procedures on academic integrity, please review the G-9 policy.

If you have received a notice of an alleged academic integrity violation, you will work to reconcile the allegation using the academic integrity system.

Two students work on classwork in the Humanities Reading Room of Pattee Library.
Two students work on classwork in the Humanities Reading Room of Pattee Library.

The College of the Liberal Arts Honors Code

I pledge to conduct myself with honor and integrity in all academic, personal, and professional pursuits. I will be responsible for the academic integrity of my work and encourage my peers to do the same. I will carry these values with me as I graduate from this college.

Why is academic integrity important?

For many students, a Penn State education is a serious investment of time, effort, and money. Students appreciate knowing that their investment is meaningful and that professors respond actively to students who try to gain an advantage dishonestly.

When students join the Penn State community, they commit to the Penn State Principles, which say, “Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at Penn State, allowing the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest, and responsible manner.” When students participate in Liberal Arts courses and programs, the College of the Liberal Arts Honor Code applies.

How can I avoid committing academic integrity violations?

  1. Read your course syllabus. Pay attention to what you may and may not do.
  2. Unless you have clear and explicit permission, do not use outside or online sources, do not collaborate, do not share any class information or materials with anyone else, and do not upload or share any course information to an online vendor, repository, tutoring site, or quizzing site.
  3. When in doubt, ask your professor. Everyone makes mistakes, loses track of deadlines, or gets confused. If you cannot meet a deadline or are not sure if something is permissible, the best thing to do is ask.
  4. Avoid plagiarism. If you use another person’s words, images, or ideas, you need to cite the source both in the body of your text AND in a reference/bibliography/works cited section at the end of your paper. If you use someone else’s words, you must put them within quotation marks unless directed otherwise by your instructor. If you rephrase someone else’s words, you should change the wording substantially and cite the original source. Small changes are not enough to make someone else’s words or ideas your own. When in doubt, ask!

What should I do if I face academic integrity allegations?

  1. Try not to take it personally. Penn State policies direct faculty members to report suspicions of academic misconduct to the college’s Office of Academic Integrity, even when students engage in academic misconduct because they “made a stupid mistake” or misunderstood something. Faculty members who do not do this could put themselves in jeopardy.
  2. Do not panic. Allegations of academic misconduct are a beginning, not an end. As part of this process, students may indicate that they challenge, or contest, the allegations and/or the penalties (also called sanctions) proposed by the professor. Students who contest have an opportunity to voice their concerns to an independent committee of students and faculty. That committee determines if there is evidence of academic misconduct and, if there is, if the sanctions/penalties recommended by the professor are appropriate. When faculty submit allegations of academic misconduct, students receive specific information about their rights. Read this information and ask your professor questions, if needed.
  3. Talk with the faculty member. Ask about the evidence that led the faculty member to believe that you violated instructions or policies. If you have a reasonable explanation for the evidence, share that explanation with the faculty member.
  4. Remain in the course. Once you are notified of allegations of academic misconduct, you may not drop the course unless those allegations are dismissed. If you do, the Office of the Registrar will return you to the course, and you could be responsible for the consequences of missing work/assessments. In the event of a serious, non-academic reason to drop the course (e.g., medical or trauma), please contact the college’s Office of Academic Integrity.
  5. Follow the process in the academic integrity system. The academic integrity system is a web application that you can use to respond to academic integrity violations. It allows you to accept or contest the allegations and/or any proposed sanctions and provide explanations or other evidence in dispute of the allegations or sanctions. The system is designed to facilitate communication between you and your instructor. If you accept both the allegation(s) and the sanction(s), the claim will be forwarded to a committee for review and a final decision. If you do not, your response is returned to the instructor, who can elaborate on the information they have provided. If they do, you will get a second opportunity to respond to their response. Once the process is complete, the claim is forwarded to the committee as described above.

What outcomes are possible if I am found responsible for an academic integrity violation?

In addition to outcomes recommended by the faculty member, students who accept responsibility for an academic integrity violation or who are found guilty of a violation lose the opportunity to drop/late drop/withdraw from the course and an opportunity to qualify for the Dean’s List. They may lose opportunities to elect a pass/fail or grade or apply Penn State’s grade forgiveness policy to the affected course, and the student’s major program, the Schreyer Honors College, and the Office of Student Accountability and Conflict Response may impose additional outcomes.

To track repeat offenders, the University keeps a record of students who accept responsibility for academic misconduct and who are found responsible for academic misconduct. The college’s Office of Academic Integrity does not share this information with those who are not part of the academic integrity process. Academic misconduct is not noted on a student’s transcript unless a transcript notation is an explicit consequence for a violation. Currently, the University does not report academic misconduct to other organizations unless the Office of Student Accountability and Conflict Response determines that conduct probation, suspension, or expulsion is an appropriate outcome for the violation of University policy.

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