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Academic Integrity Policy

Academic integrity is foundational to your work in the English department and in the wider world. This document will help define academic integrity, explain its importance, and outline instances—and consequences—of its violation. It is crucial that you thoroughly understand everything discussed below, so please review it at length. In addition, your instructor can clarify any questions you may have, and the Writing Center offers guidance for how to adhere to these rules.

It is the department’s policy to expect that you will complete your work within a framework of respect, open-mindedness, and critical thinking. Furthermore, you will establish your own position in your work, and do so by informing yourself of the facts, research methods, and ideas available to you. You will evaluate these materials analytically and independently, use them in service of your own ideas, and acknowledge the context of your work through methods such as (but not limited to) documentation and literature review. In short, you will always

  1. endeavor to create independent ideas,
  2. clearly show how you are using the words and ideas of others, and 
  3. identify the sources of those words and ideas.

These principles are not unique to this department. In fact, they are part of U.S. law. Ideas and language are a form of property, so inadequately documented use of others’ work is illegal. Students, and in some cases the university, can be held accountable in a court of law. So the issues discussed herein are of the utmost importance.

The department of English recognizes three types of error that students may commit when handling others’ material:

  1. Documentation error
  2. Plagiarism
  3. Cheating

Below, you’ll find definitions of each error and the consequences for committing them within an English course (including classes cross-listed with English).

Documentation Error

Documentation error occurs when a student does not use documentation techniques correctly and/or fully. It occurs when quoted, summarized, or paraphrased materials lack a citation of their source but otherwise document the source correctly. A documentation error also occurs when the works cited page is missing, incomplete, or formatted incorrectly.

  • For direct quotation, this means that the quoted words have a signal phrase and are surrounded by quotation marks, but are not correctly cited. 
  • For summary and paraphrase, this means that the summarized or paraphrased materials have a signal phrase but are not correctly cited.

Proper documentation methods are taught and reviewed at length in College English I and College English II, and constitute basic course material that students are expected to master. Documentation error, regardless of intent, means that a student’s work does not fully or properly acknowledge the source of unoriginal material.

Penalty:

In cases of documentation error, students shall receive their work without a grade and be required to revise and resubmit by a deadline determined by the course instructor in order to receive a grade for the assignment. Once the revised assignment has been submitted and the instructor has verified that all documentation errors have been corrected, the student may receive a grade for the assignment. It is at the instructor’s discretion whether and to what extent to penalize the paper specifically for the initial documentation error when determining the final grade—for example, the instructor may penalize the paper if the error occurs late in the semester after documentation review, if it occurs after receiving a rough draft with thorough feedback, or if it occurs repeatedly. If a student does not hand in a revision following a case of documentation error by the end of the semester, the paper will receive a zero. The instructor needs to communicate to the class, on the class syllabus and in person on the first day of the course, under what specific circumstances and to what extent the paper will be penalized for documentation error.

Plagiarism

A student commits plagiarism when her or his assignment uses the words and/or ideas of another person without attributing those words and/or ideas using the required forms of documentation.

  • For direct quotation, this means that the quoted words lack quotation marks, a signal phrase, and citation.
  • For summary and paraphrase, this means that there is neither a signal phrase nor a parenthetical citation.

Please note that plagiarism, like documentation error, occurs regardless of intent. It requires certain actions (or the absence of certain actions) but not motive.

Penalty:

All assignments containing plagiarism receive a zero for their initial grade. All students must meet with the course instructor to discuss the plagiarism. All instructors must provide written documentation of every infraction by every student in a course to the chair of the English Department (see below). Subsequent outcomes depend on circumstances outlined below.

  1. For a first infraction, the instructor may offer the student the opportunity to revise the assignment. If the student does revise the assignment, the revised work must be penalized in some way, at the instructor’s discretion. The specific circumstances in which revision can occur, and the nature of subsequent penalty, must be communicated to the class by the instructor at the beginning of the course and made available on Blackboard and on the syllabus.
  2. The second instance of plagiarism (not documentation error) on any assignment results in an F for the course. 

In the case of rough (first) drafts, if students receive a separate grade for different drafts, then a plagiarized rough draft will get a grade of zero. If rough drafts do not receive a separate grade, then a whole letter grade will be deducted from the final grade for the paper for which the plagiarized rough draft was written.

Please note that instructors are expected to provide students with a course syllabus on the first day of the semester. That syllabus must contain the definition of plagiarism, the course procedures, and a link to the department’s academic integrity policy web page. Instructors must review the academic integrity policy on the first day of class and must review documentation principles and methods during the semester, regardless of the course level.

If an assignment contains plagiarism, the instructor must:

  1. Supply the chair of the English Department with a copy of the student’s work with the plagiarized parts marked and the original material identified; a copy of the instructor’s assignment; a copy of the syllabus with the academic integrity policy; a message describing the assignment and the plagiarism contained in the student’s work.  
  2. Notify a student of the plagiarism and discuss in person the consequences and future actions. If an in-person meeting is impossible, the conversation can occur over email.

Students may appeal at any stage of the process. They must first request a meeting with the instructor to review the details of the case. If still unsatisfied, the student can meet with the chair of the department (with or without the instructor). Students should bear in mind that the chair of the department will not meet with them until they have had a meeting with their instructor. If the chair determines that sufficient ambiguity remains, the case can be referred to a faculty committee appointed for the occasion.

Cheating

Cheating means the giving, receiving, taking, or purchasing of any information or written work not sanctioned by the instructor during exams or on any written assignments. Cheating is distinct from plagiarism because it depends on actively soliciting or distributing information that violates the defined conditions of the assignments and evaluation. Sharing the answers to an exam, for instance, constitutes a form of sharing, as does allowing someone else to copy your work on an assignment. (Conversely, reading the answers of another test and copying someone else’s work also constitute cheating.) Submitting a paper or part of a paper previously written for another class or in another context (without prior permission from the instructor) also constitutes cheating.

Please note: another form of cheating consists of changing the font and/or size of the text in a paper so as to increase the number of pages of the work. All assignments should have the standard font and size for all text.

Penalty:

Students found guilty of cheating the first time will receive a 0 (zero) for the assignment; the second time, automatic failure for the course; the third time, recommendation to the dean for expulsion. Unlike with plagiarism, there is no opportunity to ameliorate the penalty for any infraction.

Procedure:

  1. The students will meet with the instructor.
  2. Students will be shown the papers and asked to explain their similarities.
  3. Students will be required to bring in past papers to check for similar instances of copying. Students must keep all returned papers with professors’ written comments and be able to produce them at any time during the semester. Students should also keep all preparatory notes, outlines and drafts to prove that the paper is their own.
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