Guidelines for Faculty on Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is essential to the University’s educational mission. All members of the University community are responsible for supporting this mission by promoting and encouraging academic honesty.

University Policies

While academic honesty and compliance with policies designed to promote academic integrity are presumed, you may at some point encounter conduct that falls below Penn’s community standards. The following guide is intended to assist you in dealing with those situations. For a more detailed explanation of the University’s policies—or their application to a particular student or situation—please consult the University’s policies and procedures manual (i.e., the PennBook), Section IV of the Faculty Handbook, or contact the Office of Student Conduct at 215-898-5651. The University’s Center for Teaching and Learning website also offers very practical information for faculty on how “to make academic dishonesty less attractive and more difficult.”

As noted in greater detail below, when you encounter objectionable conduct, you may address the issue on your own or you may refer the case to the Office of Student Conduct. Referring the case to the Office of Student Conduct allows you to maintain impartiality and objectivity in dealing with the student in question and, at the same time, ensures that all instances of academic dishonesty and misconduct are addressed in a consistent and fair manner.

Extensive national surveys and less formal University research show high percentages of self-reported academic dishonesty. Important to efforts to decrease academic dishonesty are:

  • creating the perception that all members of the University community take academic integrity issues seriously;
  • increasing the likelihood of charter; and
  • creating awareness among students and other members of the university community that serious negative consequences will be imposed if cheating is detected.

For a thorough and inclusive guide about encouraging academic integrity, see the University of Pennsylvania Center for Teaching and Learning’s website.

This UC Davis website is also helpful: Creating a Climate of Academic Integrity: Tips to Prevent Cheating

Communicate Your Expectations to Your Students

Effective ways of doing this are:

  • refering to the Code of Academic Integrity in your syllabus and in the classroom; particularly during introductory classes and just before examinations or papers are due, (Sample statements on syllabi may be found here.),
  • emphasize requirements and standards of conduct with respect to completion of research, homework assignments, and examinations,
  • provide specific examples of ways that students might violate the Code of Academic Integrity in the context of a particular assignment, (Negative examples are often helpful.),
  • clarify the permissibility of using old examination questions and answers, lab reports, case studies, solutions manuals, internet resources such as Cramster or Course Hero, outlines and study guides or materials prepared in collaboration with other students,
  • clarify expectations with respect to permissible and impermissible collaboration—both for group work and individual work; repeat expectations as assignments come due,
  • specify whether papers must be entirely new work or whether duplications and alterations of students’ previous work are acceptable.
  • educate students about plagiarism where appropriate [see resource section],
  • explain to students that violations of the Code of Academic Integrity will be confronted if detected and referred to the Office of Student Conduct where appropriate,
  • particularize the importance and relevance of integrity and ethics to your discipline, wherever possible.

Resources for Academic Support for Students

Academic support programs

Tutoring and Mentoring Programs

Academic Integrity Guide for Students

Computer and Library Help

Educating Students About Plagiarism and Other Academic Integrity Issues

Center for Academic Integrity

The Center for Academic Integrity provides a forum to identify, affirm, and promote the values of academic integrity among students, faculty and administrators. Some of the information on the site is for members only. The public information is, however, useful.

Honor Council web site

Preventing and Minimizing Cheating


  • give explicit instruction regarding what materials, aids, etc. can be used (e.g. programmable calculators; electronic organizers; cellular phones)
  • provide reasonable seating arrangements/rooms of appropriate size
  • consider multiple versions of same examination/alternating distribution
  • avoid excessive re-use of old examinations
  • refuse credit on correct answers unless all work is shown
  • choose and train proctors carefully; have adequate number of proctors
  • “Ringers” will take examinations (or entire course) for an enrolled, but absent, student. To prevent this, get to know your students (note availability of computerized photos for all Penn students) and require ID’s for examinations
  • consider having students sign bluebooks attesting to compliance with academic integrity rules
  • photocopy graded examinations before returning them to students. Alternatively photocopy a random sample of graded examinations and tell students you will be doing so
  • develop a required statement for students to sign attesting that they have not altered examinations submitted for regrades (Ask the Office of Student Conduct for model statements.)
  • set up a process to handle late requests to take an examination at an alternate time so that you are not taken unaware by these requests. For example, decide how to handle illness on the morning of the examination or how to handle the claim that extracurricular activities interfered with time to study, leading to a late request to take an examination at another time

Homework Assignments

  • change homework assignments from year to year
  • avoid using questions with readily available answers
  • require complete solutions—require students to show their work
  • consider using ungraded homework assignments
  • provide clear guidelines about time demands for each homework assignment
  • photocopy and keep all homework assignments
  • set a deadline for late submissions and return all papers back after that deadline

Papers and Other Projects

  • change paper topics frequently; use narrow, specific topics
  • photocopy good papers and keep a file of them (let colleagues know you have them)
  • clarify expectations for assignments regarding citation of sources, collaboration permitted, etc.
  • explain plagiarism—examples
  • ask for/review drafts, outlines, and research notes
  • require students to submit papers electronically, preferably in Word format
  • explain requirements regarding collaboration on group projects, identify a process to be initiated early if discord develops within a group
  • familiarize yourself with Internet “term paper mills” know how to search them
  • familiarize yourself with web sites and computerized software designed to aid in the detection of plagiarism

What to Do When You See Cheating in Progress

  • interrupt the impermissible conduct and immediately and quietly remove or confiscate notes or other materials a student is using (it is important that the notes be saved as potential evidence)
  • ask that students move apart, change seats, etc.
  • reiterate your examination-taking expectations/rules
  • permit a student to complete an examination, even if you suspect cheating
  • after the exam is over, set the completed examinations aside, record names, keep a seating chart in order to contact witnesses at a later time, if necessary

What to Do When You Suspect Cheating After the Fact

  • consult with appropriate colleagues, senior faculty or department chairs
  • contact Julie Nettleton, Director of the Office of Student Conduct (215-898-5651 or for preliminary advice (this can be confidential and involves no commitment to submit a formal disciplinary case)
  • review the policies and procedures manual, i.e. the “Pennbook
  • Decide what to do next:
    • do nothing if you have become convinced that there has been no academic dishonesty
    • consider whether poor academic work or academic dishonesty is at issue
    • if a student is struggling to do it right but needs help, consider referring him/her to academic support resources
    • know and follow University procedures
    • even if you are convinced a student has cheated or lied, treat him/her respectfully, professionally, and candidly
    • inform the student what you intend to do (e.g. refer matter to the Office of Student Conduct; require rewriting, extra work, etc.)


If a student is found responsible for violating the Code of Academic Integrity, the disciplinary charter allows a faculty member to assign any grade he/she deems appropriate under the circumstances. If a student is found not responsible for the misconduct, faculty should assign a grade based on the student’s academic performance in the course. For additional information, see Faculty Authority to Assign Grades and Academic Integrity policy.

How to Report a Case to the Office of Student Conduct

You may call the Office of Student Conduct (215-898-5651) to consult first or you may refer the matter in writing to OSC Director Julie Nettleton.

No special format is required; please include a narrative of events and provide any applicable materials.

Save and be able to provide originals of all suspicious work.

Permit the student to complete the required remaining coursework; until the matter is concluded at the Office of Student Conduct, submit an “incomplete” for a grade.

University Disciplinary System Procedures

The University’s disciplinary procedures are outlined in the Charter of the University of Pennsylvania Student Disciplinary System which can be found in the PennBook and on the Office of Student Conduct’s web site. Some key aspects of the University’s disciplinary procedures are:

  • notice to the student
  • thorough, impartial investigation by the Office of Student Conduct
  • assistance and support of a trained advisor
  • confidential outcome (shared with faculty and Dean)
  • result is most often an agreement reached between student and the University
  • sanction can often include suspension
  • If responsible, a disciplinary record is created which may, under certain circumstances, be shared with outside agencies (e.g. dean’s letters to medical and law schools, etc.)
  • occasionally a disciplinary hearing is required at which student, faculty and T.A.’s (or other witnesses) are required to appear