It is impossible to provide unequivocal academic integrity rules that will adequately cover all situations in which violations may occur. Discussed below are academic integrity guidelines for some academic assignments and situations students commonly encounter. Students are strongly encouraged to consult their professors whenever they have questions about academic integrity.
Assistance with Preparing Papers
If students have a term paper or any written material typed or word processed by another person, they must give precise instructions to the person assisting them that the material is to be typed in accordance with the academic integrity policies of the course as outlined by the professor. In general, if the typed or word-processed version of the term paper is not the student's own work, the student has violated academic integrity policy.
Students may or may not be permitted to receive other forms of assistance when researching and preparing their papers. The policy may well vary from course to course and from instructor to instructor. It is the student's responsibility to understand and abide by the academic integrity policies of the course and the instructor for which the work is being prepared.
Unless otherwise specified by the professor, all work presented by a student is assumed to be that student's original work, created or prepared by that student while working alone. For some course assignments, students may be expected to work together–in pairs, in teams, or as a class.
The professor has an obligation to make clear the expectations for the work required by each student in such a group assignment. Students are expected to contribute their assigned share. Any violation of the guidelines established by the professor will constitute a violation of academic integrity. In supervising such work, students themselves, along with the professor, have a clear responsibility for ensuring academic integrity.
Science Laboratory Assignments
Academic integrity rules apply to the laboratory setting just as they do to lecture and discussion courses. However, because laboratory experiments, projects, and reports are often done in a public setting, students sometimes have a more difficult time judging what conduct is and is not allowed.
Although some instructors permit homework or laboratory reports to be group projects, others do not. It is the student's responsibility to know and abide by the rules of the instructor. Unless otherwise permitted, all graded laboratory problems and reports must be completed individually, without collaboration. In general, there should never be any reason for you to look at another student's laboratory report or for you to allow another student to look at your report.
Unless specifically directed to do so by an instructor, a student may not work with a partner or share laboratory data. Laboratory reports are always to be written as an individual effort and never as a group project. Data should not be altered after an experiment has been completed. It is also a violation of academic integrity to falsify data or to discard data without the prior consent of the instructor.
Students may not receive help that amounts to another student directly supplying them with an answer to an assignment or to another student working through the material such that the answers become a product of a joint effort. Giving aid in violation of academic integrity rules is just as much a violation of the system as is receiving aid.
Any material used in the preparation of an assignment must be verifiable by the professor. If the student falsifies data or materials gained in laboratories, interviews, or research, that student has violated the college's academic integrity policy.
Telling a lie in an academic situation is a violation of integrity. For example, if a student lies to a professor about the reason for missing a test or for the lateness of a paper, that student has committed a violation of academic integrity. In fact, if a student lies about another student's alleged violation, that constitutes a violation as well.
Aiding and Abetting
When a student assists another student in committing a violation of academic integrity, that student (i.e., the one providing the assistance) is equally culpable and can be charged and prosecuted for an academic integrity violation.
If, for example, a student permits another student access to a test answer, unauthorized laboratory data, or homework assignment, both students have committed a violation. When one student abets another in a violation of academic integrity–for example, by lying to protect a student who has cheated–then the student providing the help has also
committed an integrity violation.
Quizzes, Tests, and Examinations
Professors should provide clear guidelines to their students for testing situations. It is important, however, for students to guarantee their own integrity in these situations. During tests and examinations, students should keep attention on their own work at all times. No books, notes, or other materials–except those that are explicitly allowed should be brought into a testing area or should otherwise be accessible during the testing period. Unless otherwise expressly permitted by the instructor, the use of any electronic device during a quiz or exam or any graded assignment in class is prohibited and will be considered a breach of academic integrity.
Guidelines for Computer Use
Computers have made great technological contributions to the academic world. Unfortunately, they have also given rise to new problems in integrity. The general rule is that a student's work done on a computer or for execution by a computer must be an original production of the student unless otherwise specified by the professor. Additional guidelines are given below.
- In an assignment in which the student is to solve a problem using a computer (for example, writing a computer program, designing a database or spreadsheet, or any other work for execution on a computer), taking either an idea from someone else's solution or one or more actual lines of instructions from someone else's work is cheating. Obtaining help from someone else or looking at or copying all or part of someone else's solution to the problem is a violation of academic integrity. Similarly, providing help to someone or working collaboratively on an assignment is a violation of academic integrity unless otherwise stated by the instructor. Assistance may be obtained only from the instructor or Computer Center assistants, and assistants may help only with system operation, not with the substance or the solution of the problem (also see #5 below).
- Editing another student's paper or other work generated on a computer (such as a program or data file) and submitting it as one's own work is cheating.
- Incorporating materials obtained from a computer information source, such as those found on the Internet, into one's own work without appropriate documentation and attribution is plagiarism.
- Work assigned as a team or group project must be done in accordance with the guidelines provided by the professor to insure that the integrity of each student's contribution to the project is maintained.
- Under most circumstances it is permissible to obtain help with the operation of a computer system or software–for example, how to log on, compile a Pascal program, or print a paper. The exception to this rule is when learning about such operations is an integral part of the assignment. In this case, assistance with the operation should come only from the instructor unless he/she specifies otherwise.
- A student is responsible for maintaining the integrity of his or her computer files, computer printouts, and computer accounts. Computer files and passwords to computer accounts must remain confidential. Printouts from the computer must be collected promptly and kept private. They must not be left in the computer center or anywhere else where they might be seen or picked up by other students.
- Tampering with or destroying files, software, or computer equipment provided by the college for use in a course violates academic integrity by denying access to academic materials.
Use of Previously Submitted Work
An assignment prepared for one professor cannot be simultaneously, or subsequently, submitted to another professor unless both professors agree to such a submission. Likewise, an assignment done in secondary school or at another college cannot be submitted without the professor's knowledge and permission.
Plagiarism is a very serious violation of academic integrity. It can also be a complex problem for students to understand and to avoid. In an academic setting, plagiarism occurs when the words, ideas, or data of another writer, speaker, or researcher–whether published or unpublished–are presented as one's own. Such an act of misrepresentation without proper acknowledgement is a violation of academic integrity at Roanoke College. Students are therefore expected to submit their own work, in their own words, and in their own original format.
Any sources used in the preparation and presentation of a student's work must be carefully and thoroughly acknowledged with the proper documentation. Merely to copy a passage, however brief, without proper documentation or acknowledgement and without quotation marks is a flagrant form of plagiarism. This includes drafts unless otherwise explicitly communicated by the instructor.
Plagiarism is abhorred by the academic community because it is antithetical to the principles of liberal education and intellectual freedom and also because it is immoral behavior that deceives the reader regarding the actual authorship of the work being presented.
Students will, of course, find it necessary to “borrow” words and ideas–with proper acknowledgement–from written materials and other sources. That borrowing will generally take one of two forms: direct quotation or paraphrasing. A paraphrase is a complete restatement (rewriting/restructuring) of a borrowed idea in one's own words. Since the idea is not original, however, there must also be appropriate documentation to acknowledge that borrowing.
Examples of Plagiarism and Acceptable Paraphrase
Consider the following passage, taken directly from the original:
The principal part of the Terry command was one of the
most, if not the most, famous regiments in the history of the
United States Army–The Seventh Cavalry. Organized under
an act of Congress on July 18, 1866, the regiment was
activated at Fort Riley, Kansas, later in the same year, and
from the beginning was intended for service against the
Indians of the Great Plains. At first there were only eight
companies, but this number was soon increased to twelve,
although the entire regiment had never been all together until
the expedition of 1876 against hostile Sioux and Cheyennes
Now consider the excerpt from a hypothetical student's paper:
The main part of Terry's command was the most famous outfit
in the U.S. Army's history, the 7th cavalry. It was organized
on July 18, 1866, by an act of Congress. It was made active
in Fort Riley, Kansas, that same year. From the start it was
intended to move against the Plains Indians. Only eight com-
panies at first, the 7th was increased to twelve companies, but
the whole regiment was not together until 1876 with the
expedition against the Cheyennes and Sioux (Stewart 162).
A comparison of the original version with the version above will reveal that the student has committed plagiarism. The same format has been employed, and much of the wording is the same. Either the student has made an attempt to disguise the original, or the passage is insufficient as a paraphrase. The paragraph is not in the student's own
words, and, therefore, even though documentation is provided, the student work constitutes plagiarism.
The version shown below is an acceptable paraphrase. There is a complete rewording of the original, from which only salient details have been extracted. These details, moreover, are adapted to the student's purpose, which is slightly different from that of the original. It is also appropriately documented.
The third prong of the campaign left Fort Abraham Lincoln
(Dakota Territory) in May 1876 and was commanded by Gen-
eral Alfred Terry. Forming the fighting nucleus of General
Terry's Column was the noted Seventh Cavalry, commanded
by George Armstrong Custer. It was now at its full regimental
strength of twelve companies for the first time since its crea-
tion in 1866 (Stewart 162). Terry had orders to march west-
ward to join Gibbon and Crook.
Guidelines to Avoid Plagiarism
- Students must use quotation marks when required and citations to indicate sources of material on all work submitted to their instructor for evaluation and grading. This includes drafts unless otherwise explicitly communicated by the instructor.
- Quotation marks should always be used to set off words that are borrowed directly, even though only one or two words are involved.
- The source of words or ideas should always be acknowledged in the text of the presentation, in an appropriate footnote or endnote, or in both.
- As a rule, anything students learn while they are preparing an assignment should be considered as material that must be documented, even if this material is paraphrased. It is important to remember that adequate documentation must include exact page numbers.
- Matters of common or general knowledge usually do not require documentation. In A Writer's Reference (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989), Diana Hacker defines common knowledge as “information that readers could find in any number of general sources because it is commonly known” (170). If in doubt about whether or not information is common knowledge, provide documentation.
- Prior knowledge does not usually require formal documentation (yet it is always a good idea for the student to consult the professor if there are doubts or questions about what constitutes prior knowledge). Most often a textual reference to the source will suffice for such prior knowledge. If, for example, a student wants to refer to a debate as being “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” the student can merely mention MacBeth as the source, presuming the student knew these lines and their source prior to the preparation of the work being submitted. Note that quotation marks would be used (as they are for all direct quotations).
- Words, ideas, data, or material acquired in other courses should be acknowledged as to their specific source. The professor should be contacted regarding the most appropriate method for documenting such material.
- As a general rule, if the student has doubt about whether or not to acknowledge a particular source, it is wise to document that source. Again, consult the instructor of the course if such a question arises.
- Consult a composition handbook or a publication manual for appropriate forms of documentation, as these differ from discipline to discipline. If the professor does not specify that a particular notational format be used, the student should ask the professor what format is most appropriate.
- A bibliography by itself is not sufficient documentation because it does not inform the reader of the specific uses of the works in it. Some textual or notational system (such as footnotes, endnotes, or the author-date method) must be employed to cite when and how specific portions of sources are used. Most systems of documentation require page numbers for all citations. All systems of documentation require page numbers for direct quotations.