Academic integrity statements for your syllabi
January 22, 2021
Dear Faculty Colleagues,
Please consider including a statement about academic integrity on your syllabus. Students suggest that faculty members who ignore these issues are signaling that they do not care about them. Students expect such information and they expect members of the faculty to reinforce and model these values in discussion and in practice on assignments and during exams. Sample statements and some further discussion appear below, but two things first:
- Students’ statements written on exams or assignments
Asking students before they take exams to write and sign statements affirming that they will not cheat reduces cheating—see, for example, Dan Ariely, The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty (HarperCollins 2012). Ditto for writing assignments and plagiarism, such as research or other types of papers. A survey about academic integrity administered at Baruch in summer 2020 affirmed our students’ belief in the effectiveness of such statements.
Members of the faculty should ask students to write and sign such statements. They are most effective when students write the statements themselves (i.e., students do not sign a statement that you circulate). And they should written before the students take the exam. Any such statement should be brief, such as:
“I will neither give nor receive unauthorized assistance on this exam.” or “The work in this assignment is my own. Any outside sources have been properly cited.”
- Proctoring Online Exams
CUNY has announced that faculty may not require the use of proctoring systems that employ online monitoring by cameras. At this time, CUNY is negotiating with a vendor of a “lockdown” proctoring application that we expect will be available soon. We await more details. In the meantime, we urge faculty who might be interested in using such systems to include on their syllabi some version of the following:
“By the time of this class’s midterm or final exams, CUNY faculty might be given access to an online proctoring system that will, for the duration of the exam, ‘lockdown’ the student’s computer so that it can be used only for the exam. If we are, I plan to make use of the system for our final (and/or midterm) examination. All members of the class will be asked to employ this lockdown system.”
The attached Report of the Provost’s Ad Hoc Committee (from October 2020) includes suggestions from dozens of faculty colleagues college-wide: Some Suggestions on Maintaining Academic Integrity while Administering Exams without Proctoring.
Three sample academic integrity statements for your syllabus
Syllabus statements may be as simple or elaborate as you wish, but please include whatever range of academic sanctions you plan to impose for violations. Any of the three sample statements below may be cut and pasted, or revised, or can serve to inspire your own. Also included are working definitions of plagiarism. Providing such definitions (feel free to devise your own) helps to inform students and to protect faculty members. Directing students to the online plagiarism tutorial (cited in the Statement #3 below) or to the Writing Center (see below) also can be helpful. You should also know that Baruch subscribes to Turnitin.com, an online plagiarism-detecting resource (see below for more information on Turnitin.com). The items below include some links to other resources as well.
I [or the Department of X] fully support(s) Baruch College’s policy on Academic Honesty, which states, in part:
“Academic dishonesty is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Cheating, forgery, plagiarism, and collusion in dishonest acts undermine the college’s educational mission and the students’ personal and intellectual growth. Baruch students are expected to bear individual responsibility for their work, to learn the rules and definitions that underlie the practice of academic integrity, and to uphold its ideals. Ignorance of the rules is not an acceptable excuse for disobeying them. Any student who attempts to compromise or devalue the academic process will be sanctioned.”
Academic sanctions in this class will range from an F on the assignment to an F in this course. [Note to faculty members: academic sanctions are at your discretion. Please note that in light of CUNY policies that permit students to retake and expunge from their GPA several courses they have failed, some members of the faculty prefer to award D’s in place of F’s.] A report of suspected academic dishonesty will be sent to the Office of the Dean of Students. Additional information and definitions can be found at https://provost.baruch.cuny.edu/academic-affairs/academic_honesty/
Cheating and plagiarism are serious offenses. The following definitions are based on the College’s Academic Honesty website at https://provost.baruch.cuny.edu/academic-affairs/academic_honesty/
Cheating is the attempted or unauthorized use of materials, information, notes, study aids, devices or communication during an academic exercise. Examples include but are not limited to:
- Copying from another student during an examination or allowing another to copy your work
- Unauthorized collaborating on a take home assignment or examination
- Using unauthorized notes during a closed book examination
- Using unauthorized electronic devices during an examination
- Taking an examination for another student
- Asking or allowing another student to take an examination for you
- Changing a corrected exam and returning it for more credit
- Submitting substantial portions of the same paper to two classes without consulting the second instructor
- Preparing answers or writing notes in a blue book (exam booklet) before an examination
- Allowing others to research and write assigned papers including the use of commercial term paper services
Plagiarism is the act of presenting another person’s ideas, research or writing as your own, such as:
- Copying another person’s actual words without the use of quotation marks and footnotes (a functional limit is four or more words taken from the work of another)
- Presenting another person’s ideas or theories in your own words without acknowledging them
- Using information that is not considered common knowledge without acknowledging the source
- Failure to acknowledge collaborators on homework and laboratory assignment
My policy is to give a failing grade [or insert the academic sanction you prefer; best is to include a range of possible sanctions] to any assignment that has been plagiarized or an exam in which you have cheated. [Again: academic sanctions are at the discretion of the faculty member, including an F for the course.] In addition, I am required by College policy to submit a report of suspected academic dishonesty to the Office of the Dean of Students. This report becomes part of your permanent file.
Learning involves the pursuit of truth, which cannot be pursued by presenting someone else’s work as your own. By following the procedure outlined below, you will establish a basis of trust that will remain unless you provide reason to suspect it has been violated:
- Visit the college’s Academic Honesty Policy website: https://provost.baruch.cuny.edu/academic-affairs/academic_honesty/
- Read the material it contains.
- Send me an email in which you truthfully state that you have read the web page, understood it, and that you agree to act according to the principles it expresses.
For further discussion of plagiarism and clarification of its parameters, see the online plagiarism tutorial prepared by members of the Newman Library faculty at https://guides.newman.baruch.cuny.edu/plagiarism. If questions remain, ask me. Ignorance is not an acceptable excuse for unacceptable practices. For the record, if you violate the precepts of academic integrity you will receive a zero for the assignment [or insert the academic sanction you prefer] and your name will be forwarded to the Office of the Dean of Students, where a notation will become part of your file at Baruch.
Baruch’s Writing Center
The Writing Center supports students as they evaluate and cite sources, distinguish their voices from others’, and learn about academic integrity. In one-to-one consultations, students can share their notes, drafts and research materials with a professional writing consultant to cite sources strategically, accurately, and ethically. The Center also offers the following in-class and small-group workshops, each of which focuses on a different element of effective source use:
- Understanding Plagiarism and Citation
- Ethical Writing and Source Use
- Summarizing and Responding to Sources
- Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting
- Using Sources Strategically
Faculty members can request an in-class workshop here; lesson plans for all workshops are also available for use in Faculty classrooms. More information is available at http://baruch.cuny.edu/writingcenter.
Please report violations of academic integrity to the Office of the Dean of Students
The functions of reporting are: 1) to take advantage of the educational moment to make sure the student understands what is at stake; and 2) to track whether incidents involving the student have been reported before.
The reporting form is available at https://www.pavesuite.com/Baruch/PublicPortal/AcademicMisconductIncident.
Academic sanctions (i.e., grades) for uncontested or resolved cases are at the discretion of the instructor. (Disciplinary sanctions, such as warnings, probation, suspension, etc.) are at the discretion of the Office of the Dean of Students.) Students are entitled to due process; however, contested cases very rarely move as far as a hearing. The process usually unfolds quickly once you have reported the incident to Dr. Annie Virkus-Estrada, Associate Dean of Students (and the college’s Academic Integrity Officer). Please use the reporting form mentioned just above, but by all means follow-up by email to Annie.Virkus-Estrada@baruch.cuny.edu.
A Definition of Plagiarism
Plagiarism means presenting the work of others as your own. The “work of others” means other people’s words and/or ideas. “Presenting…as your own” means including that work in your assignment without adequate citation. Therefore, a slightly longer definition would be “Plagiarism means including in your assignment other people’s words and/or ideas without citing them correctly.” Here are some hints about citation: When you include the actual words of others, be they from a printed source, from the web, or from a live presentation, they must appear within quotation marks and you must indicate from where and from whom the words came. Otherwise you are plagiarizing. When you include another person’s ideas, you must indicate where you found those ideas, even when you are paraphrasing them. Following someone else’s sequence of ideas, even if you paraphrase them, also is plagiarism. (An example would be paraphrasing a paragraph from someone else’s work, sentence by sentence, even if you include a citation of that author.) If you have any questions about these definitions, please discuss them with me. You can also refer to Baruch’s online plagiarism tutorial https://guides.newman.baruch.cuny.edu/plagiarism
or to Baruch’s Academic Honesty website:https://provost.baruch.cuny.edu/academic-affairs/academic_honesty/
In addition, Baruch’s Writing Center offers workshops that focus on effective and ethical use of sources (see above).
The college subscribes through Blackboard to the online plagiarism-detecting resource, Turnitin.com. To learn about its use, please contact Kevin Wolff (Instructional Designer, BCTC) at HelpDesk@baruch.cuny.edu.
Other Statements, Sources, Resources
– Balancing Academic Integrity during Final Exams with Student Privacy, Access and Equity in Spring 2020: https://blogs.baruch.cuny.edu/ctl/balancing-academic-integrity-during-final-exams-with-student-privacy-access- and-equity-in-spring-2020/
– Several other statements/approaches may be found at…
– Students may also be directed to the Student Guide to Academic Integrity at Baruch, available at…
– Please feel free to peruse our academic integrity summary for faculty…
– Baruch College’s Academic Integrity website…
– On Creating and Proctoring Exams…
Finally, as suggested above, while a syllabus item is extremely helpful, the importance of discussing the meaning and significance of integrity within the academic environment can’t be overstated. That importance, of course, extends beyond student practice to include faculty and administrative practices as well. Devising exams that are at the appropriate level of difficulty, grading them and other assignments fairly and promptly, and turning in final grades on time also are issues of academic integrity.
Suggestions and comments are welcome.
Dennis Slavin, PhD
Associate Provost and Assistant Vice President
Baruch College, CUNY