Academic Integrity Statements in Your Syllabus

One step in teaching your class in ways that encourage integrity is including a statement in your syllabus. As Penn History professor Ann Moyer explains:

“You are best off if you are prepared in advance by establishing a policy; and I prefer to state it clearly in course materials. It is possible to do so without calling unwanted attention to the subject. Here is one that I use; it is based on those used by some of my departmental colleagues. I place it at the bottom of the syllabus and on assignments:

Academic honesty is fundamental to our community. The Pennbook contains our Code of Academic Integrity. A confirmed violation of that Code in this course will result in failure for the course.

Having such a statement frees you from possible problems later. Should you decide that there are extenuating circumstances such that you wish to be more lenient, that is of course always your right. But a clearly stated policy is helpful all around.”

Your statement can be short or long (see below) but should explain your expectations about integrity and the consequences.

The following statements are samples of different types of statements of Academic Integrity from Penn syllabi in many different departments. They represent a range of perspectives on Academic Integrity (some departments worry more about plagiarism and others more about collaboration) and cover a wide range of consequences (some threaten failure for any violation; some simply say that students will be reported to the “appropriate” authorities.)

Of course, including this statement is ONLY a first step. Many of these professors discuss their expectations during class as well as before every paper or exam. They also discuss issues that sometime confuse students such as what constitutes an acceptable paraphrase and what constitutes acceptable collaboration.

Note that almost all statements include a link to the University’s Code of Academic Integrity.

Many also include links to:

Sample Statements

Short & to the Point
From Jonathan Baron’s syllabus for PSY 153 “Judgments and Decisions”
“I will follow the rules of the University, including rules about incompletes, and the Code of Academic Integrity.”

From Max Cavitch’s syllabus for ENG 558-940 “Philadelphia Fire: Art and Politics in America from the Declaration of Independence to the MOVE Bombing”
“It is your responsibility to be familiar with the University’s Code of Academic Integrity. Instances of academic dishonesty will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct for adjudication.”

More Explanatory
From Sarah Kagan’s syllabus for NURS 338 “Sweet Little Old Ladies and Sandwiched Daughters: Social Images and Issues in Our Aging Society” (Honors Seminar)
“The University Code of Academic Integrity is central to the ideals that under gird this course. Students are expected to be independently familiar with the Code and to recognize that their work in the course is to be their own original work that truthfully represents the time and effort applied. Violations of the Code are most serious and will be handled in a manner that fully represents the extent of the Code and that befits the seriousness of its violation.”

Focus on Plagiarism
From Emily Hannum’s syllabus for SOC 041-401 “Gender and Development in Asia” (Freshman Seminar)
“ Please note that an important element of academic integrity is fully and correctly attributing any materials taken from the work of others. Feel free to consult with me before completing assignments if you have concerns about the correct way to reference the work of others.

More generally, please familiarize yourself with Penn’s Code of Academic Integrity, which applies to this course. Of course, I do not anticipate any problems with academic integrity. In the unlikely event that any concerns do arise on this score, I will forward all related materials to Penn’s Office of Student Conduct for an impartial adjudication.”

Focus on Homework and/or Collaboration
From Paul Heiney’s syllabus for PHY 101-910 “Classical Physics
“You are encouraged to study with other students, and to discuss questions on the homework assignments in general terms (“do you understand what we’re supposed to do on Problem 5?”). However, the work you turn in should be your own—you should not divide up the work so that one student does problems 1-5, the other 6-10, and then copy from each other. All numerical calculations should represent your own work.
Obviously, any form of copying or cheating on quizzes or exams is strictly forbidden. In general, you should abide by Penn’s Code of Academic Integrity.”

From Beatrice Santorini’s LING 205-507 “Introduction to Syntactic Theory”
“If you find it helpful to collaborate on assignments, I strongly encourage you to do so. However, you should write up and hand in your answers individually. Otherwise, neither you nor I can reliably gauge your understanding of the material.

If you work with other students, please indicate at the top of your assignment who you worked with.
On the exams, you should work independently in accordance with Penn’s Code of Academic Integrity.

If I have reason to believe that your behavior is violating this code, I will contact the Office of Student Conduct (OSC) to initiate an investigation. I have contacted the OSC a few times in the past, and in all but one case, the OSC found that the code had indeed been violated.

If the OSC finds that you have violated the Code of Academic Integrity, you will fail the class. You may be able to retake the class, but as far as I know, the grade you receive on the retake will not replace the original F.”

Focus on Exams
From Elizabeth Storm’s “Exam Rules” for Math 103-003 “Introduction to Calculus”
“The following rules apply to all of the exams.
You are permitted to have one page of notes:

  • one-sided
  • 8 1/2” by 11”
  • handwritten (typed or photocopied not allowed)
  • Be prepared to turn your notes in with your exam if asked.
  • No books.
  • No calculators, laptops, PDAs, cell phones, or mp3 players.
  • Sign the cover sheet, but do not remove it until told to do so.
  • When time is called, put your pencil down and STOP WRITING. Failure to do so may result in an automatic grade of 0.
  • REMAIN SEATED until all the exams have been collected. (Be kind to your fellow students who are still working.)
    Any form of cheating will not be tolerated. You are expected to adhere to the Code of Academic Integrity.”

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