Section E : Academic Integrity

Academic Honesty

Preamble: Academic honesty is a necessary prerequisite for meaningful education. Academic universities rely on the integrity of their members and have particular concerns for academic honesty in the classroom.

At the heart of the university’s educational mission is a belief that education confers a benefit to the individual and to society as a whole. Within the context of the classroom experience is an implied agreement, or “academic contract,” between the students and the teachers. Teachers are expected to exercise their educational responsibilities in good faith; students are expected to expend their best efforts to learn course material.

Cheating or any form of academic dishonesty undermines the essence of the university’s educational mission. It is therefore a serious matter that has substantial implications for all members of the university community.

Examples of Academic Dishonesty 1
Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, the following acts which violate the academic integrity of oneself, the classroom and one’s peers, and the institution:

Collaboration - consists of helping another student cheat, plagiarize, or commit other acts of academic dishonesty. It does not apply to valid forms of academic collaboration such as working with partners in a laboratory setting or working on team projects.

Copying - includes obtaining answers by duplicating or copying another person’s work during a test, in the completion of one’s homework, or any other context. An example of “any other context” would be copying a paragraph from a website on the internet, inserting it into a paper, and representing the work as one’s own. This act would also be called plagiarism.

Cribbing - is a synonym for cheating or plagiarizing. In everyday academic usage, it means using prohibited materials such as cheat sheets, writing answers on one’s clothes, on one’s skin, etc. or receiving answers via electronic media such as cell phones.

Forgery - means the “crime of falsely and fraudulently making or alternating a writing or other instrument.” (Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary)

Lifting - colloquially, it means the same as plagiarizing or stealing

Multiple Submissions - submitting work (without express permission of the second instructor) that has been submitted and evaluated in another course.

Plagiarism - means representing another’s work as one’s own in including the use of work bought from a “research paper mill.” See below for greater clarification and detail.

The use of “Ringers” - means having one student do another student’s work including taking an exam, writing a paper, or doing an assignment.

Sabotage - means destroying another’s work. Such acts would include discarding or destroying another’s exam, homework, lab work, report or intentionally misplacing another’s work. It could also mean in a group setting, as in a laboratory, purposely misleading another student working in the same group as oneself.

Substitution - submitting for a second time without the instructor’s permission a report or paper used in another class. In other words, multiple submissions of the same work for different classes is forbidden.

1 (These descriptions are paraphrased and modeled from Southern Vermont College Student Handbook, 2004-2006 and Oswego College Policy on Academic Honesty)

Statement of Responsibilities

Faculty and students alike are expected to maintain an atmosphere of academic integrity by practicing an ethic of academic honesty. While both faculty and students are partners in forming an atmosphere of high intellectual integrity, their responsibilities are different.

Student Responsibilities

1. Students will not participate, directly or indirectly, in any practice that could be construed as academic dishonesty or a violation of the principle of academic integrity.

2. Students will discourage academic dishonesty in the actions of fellow students

3. Students will report occurrences of academic dishonesty to their instructors or to the deans of schools in which their courses are housed.

4. Students will consult with their instructors concerning permissible degrees of collaboration and cooperation (e.g., in a laboratory where collaboration is expected but the idea of academic integrity and responsibility for one’s own work is still in play).

Faculty Responsibilities

1. Faculty will work to create an environment of high academic integrity and high academic achievement by adhering to the policies and practices recommended in this document

2. Faculty will inform students at the outset of classes and through explicit documentation in the course syllabus of the college’s academic integrity policy

3. For any particular course (for example, a lab science course), the specifics of how the policy of academic integrity will be implemented will be described and explained to the students

4. Faculty will actively discourage act of academic dishonesty through their actions, through leadership, and through education and instruction.

5. Faculty will implement the recommended procedures for dealing with academic dishonesty in cases where substantial evidence of misconduct exists and which are deemed by the instructor to be a serious breach of academic integrity.

6. Individual faculty members within their classrooms are the ultimate judges of what constitutes a “serious breech.” The honored tradition of academic freedom is not intended to be subverted by these policies.


Plagiarism is a particular form of academic dishonesty that, because of its prevalence in academic environments, deserves its own discussion. Plagiarism, or any type of cheating, will not be condoned. Both involve presenting others’ work as your own, whether it be through copying a test, bringing in notes for an exam, or handing in papers either written by others or copied from sources, written or spoken, which are not acknowledged in the text.

Definition of Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the use of someone else’s ideas or words and passing them off as one’s own. It is a special kind of cheating reserved for intellectual theft. The word comes from the Latin plagiarius, meaning kidnapping. In an academic context, plagiarism is intellectual thievery. It is unethical and intolerable. This means that even if only three or four words in succession are taken from another text, they must be placed within quotation marks and properly documented. It also means that if the source is paraphrased, i.e. the ideas are rewritten; the original source must be given credit. Using another student’s paper is plagiarism. Allowing another student to hand in a paper you wrote is condoning plagiarism and will be dealt with in the same manner as plagiarism and cheating.

There are certain acts of scholarship which are generally accepted by academicians as constituting plagiarism. They are:

1. an unacknowledged direct quotation of a source.

2. an unacknowledged paraphrase of a source.

3. the unacknowledged use of a source to establish the structure and logic of an argument.

Sample Cases

Case 1:
A student is guilty of an academic integrity violation and the instructor decides that the case should be resolved in the classroom.

The instructor informs the student of the alleged violation, counsels the student, and proposes penalties (failure of assignment, failure of course, re-assignment, etc). (i) If the student accepts the judgment of the instructor and the penalties, then the case is closed and there is no record of cheating other than that which the instructor has kept for himself. (ii) If the student disputes the academic violation charge or if he disputes the penalty but not the charge, then the student may appeal to the dean of the school in which the course is housed.

Case 2: A student is guilty of an academic integrity violation and the instructor decides that the violation is serious enough that a record of it should be placed in the VPAA’s office.

The instructor informs the student of the alleged violation and informs him of the penalties (failure for the assignment, failure for the course, etc) and his intent to place a record of the violation on file in the VPAA’s office. The instructor also informs the student of his right to an appeal. The instructor completes the Academic Integrity Violation Form which includes copies to the VPAA, dean, student, and faculty member.

(i) If the student accepts the judgment of the instructor and the penalties, then the case is closed and a record of the incident is placed on file in the office of the VPAA.

(ii) If the student disputes the academic violation charge or if he disputes the penalty but not the charge, then the student must appeal to the dean of the school in which the course is housed. If such an appeal is made, then the role of the dean is the same as that described in Case 1 with the addition that the dean will suppress the formal complaint being passed onto VPAA’s office until negotiation has been concluded. Resolution at the dean’s level may be achieved and it may (or may not) result in a file of the violation being placed on record in the VPAA’s office. The advantage of achieving a resolution without the intervention of the ARB is that it minimizes the bureaucracy needed to bring the matter to conclusion. Nevertheless, either the faculty member or the student may waive the negotiation and seek a hearing with the Academic Review Board. In this case, the dean acts as conduit and trigger for the convening of the ARB.

The recommendations of the ARB will be passed onto the VPAA who will render the final decision about the case. By the time the case reaches the ARB and VPAA, few options remain. They are:

1. The student is found guilty of an academic integrity violation. A record of the violation is placed in the VPAA’s office and in the student’s record and the student is assessed an appropriate penalty.

2. The student is found not guilty of an academic integrity violation. The student is not assessed a penalty and no record is placed in the VPAA’s office.

3. The VPAA and ARB recommend a course of action not included in the preceding two statements.

Academic Integrity - Penalties and Procedures

If a faculty member suspects a student to be in violation of SUNY Cobleskill academic integrity policy the following steps should be taken:

The faculty member will create a file describing the incident. The file should include a completed Academic Integrity Violation Form and any supporting documentation concerning the alleged infraction. This file is an important part of the investigation process for both the student and faculty member because it establishes a formal record of a case. The file is used in the appeals process and serves as a way to alert the faculty and administration of repeated violations.

The faculty member will meet with the student to discuss the nature of the offence and take the appropriate disciplinary action such as:

Failure for the assignment

Revision and resubmission of the assignment

Failure for the course

Other course of action proposed by the Vice President of Academic Affairs (VPAA) and the Academic Review Board (ARB)

The faculty member may also elect to send a copy of the report to the Dean for support or advisement.

If this is an undisputed case and a violation has been found to have occurred, the disciplinary action is sustained and the case records are placed on file with the VPAA.

A follow-up letter documenting the violation and resulting disciplinary measures will be placed in the file with a copy sent to the student. If this is the first reported offense on file with the VPAA no further action will normally be taken.

If the student is found to be innocent of the suspected violation the case is closed and all disciplinary action dropped. No record of an incident will be placed on file with the Vice President of Academic Affairs.

If a student has been found to be in violation of the Academic Integrity Policy on two or more occasions the student is subject to a hearing by the Academic Review Board. The Academic Review Board acts as a recommending body to the Vice President of Academic Affairs and may suggest additional disciplinary action. These sanctions may include:

Failure for the course

Academic probation



Other course of action proposed by VPAA and ARB

Academic Review Board

The Academic Review Board is made up of nine/seven members, 6 faculty and 3 students or 5 faculty and 2 students. Appeals Process: The student may appeal an unfavorable decision to the next higher authority for review. If an appeal is initiated at the faculty level, the following procedure is set in motion:

The student may appeal the charge of Violation of Academic Integrity to the faculty member. The appeal must be made in writing within 5 business days of the charge date and resolved within 5 business days.

If this appeal is unsatisfactory the student may appeal to the Dean in writing within 5 business days of the outcome of the first appeal. The Dean will resolve the appeal within 5 business days.

If the student wishes to appeal the ruling at the Dean’s level, the Dean will initiate a review of the case by the Academic Review Board. The Academic Review Board hears the case and makes a recommendation to the Vice President of Academic Affairs who makes the final decision.

The student is responsible for the submission of any additional documentation which he or she feels is pertinent to the case.

The student should continue to attend class pending the outcome of an appeal in cases of withdrawal.


◄ Section D      Back to Top     Section F ►