Students are strongly encouraged to report violations, as cheating, plagiarism, and other violations of the policy threaten both the integrity of their degree and undermine the purpose of education. However, the Academic Integrity Policy does not require students to report suspected violations to their professor. Students must cooperate with any investigation about possible violations.
In a short answer, yes. In reality, it depends on the seriousness of the violation. A first-year student who incorrectly cites or fails to cite information in a 2-page paper will likely not face immediately suspension or expulsion. A graduate student found falsifying data in her/his thesis could very easily be removed from the graduate program and suspended from the University. Many factors impact the seriousness of sanction, including previous violations, a student’s willingness to admit mistakes and make amends, blatant displays of cheating versus oversights/mistakes, and the level of both the class and the student. The Academic Integrity Policy outlines several possible sanctions for violations of the policy.
A college’s reputation has significant impact on the perceived value of a degree. It may or may not matter internally, but it really matters outside of the university. Just as a college can be known as too easy, a party school, or a top-notch institution, they can also be known for their academic integrity. If a school was known to minimize the importance of academic integrity and allowed students to cheat, businesses, employers (both current and future), and graduate programs would “discount” the value of your education, especially in comparison to similar schools who do have strong reputations as honest institutions.
A paper was just returned to me, where the professor thinks I plagiarized. I don’t know what I did wrong. What should I do?
First, talk with the professor and find out what the problems are. It may be a misunderstanding or something that can easily be fixed and re-submitted (forgetting to include a works cited page, for example). Be willing to ask for and receive help – including accepting responsibility for any violations that appear to be true. If you still do not understand the possible problem, seek out help from other places. Several resources are available on-line, both through UIS and other institutions. There are also on-campus resources, including the writing tutors in the Center for Teaching and Learning.
Verbatim is when you take an author’s direct words and reproduce them exactly (or with slight modifications for spelling, verb tense, and punctuation). Verbatim requires both quotation marks as well as a citation. Paraphrasing involves taking the basic idea of a passage and re-stating it in your own words. While the words may be your own, the ideas they express are not – and therefore, you still must provide a citation.
Remember that academic integrity is about providing credit to the right people. In the case of a group project, leaving someone’s name off the final project is akin to stealing their ideas. In cases where a group member has not contributed to the project, it is better to inform the professor before the final project is submitted and ask for her/his guidance.
Submitting the same paper in two different classes is considered cheating, unless professors in both classes have given you permission to do so. Submitting one paper twice is essentially plagiarizing yourself – since two papers are required, and only one total paper has been produced, it undermines the value that is gained by independent projects. It is acceptable to do projects that are similar in topic, but perhaps focusing on different perspectives, details, or approach. To be sure, talk with both professors about your topics and ideas, and be honest about your approach – and how you will still meet the requirements of both classes.
With the changes in technology, it is often difficult to know which kind of citation to use, especially if the manuals do not have a specific example. If a printed manual does not have a citation example, check on-line for any possible updates. For most college-related papers and projects, when a citation style is not clear or indicated, it is best to recreate a style, based on a similar/related item. For example, there are specific styles for documenting private letters; you might choose to follow that style for e-mail correspondence as well. For documenting a blog, you might create a combination of a traditional source (citing author, date, etc.), as well as providing the appropriate link. Most importantly, your citations for similar sources must be consistent. It may also be acceptable to provide a citation notation in a footnote or endnote. This can be useful when dealing with broad principles throughout a paragraph, or when dealing with new media. For example, you may choose to include a footnote that read: “The structure of this argument is based “The Cat in the Hat,” originally written by Dr. Seuss and reproduced on-line at www.cathat.org. A full citation is included on the Works Cited page.” For works that may be published, consult with a professor or colleague who works in the subject matter.
I’m still confused about what I can and can’t use or when I should cite something. What should I do?
When in doubt, cite. It is always better to give too much credit than not enough. If you have enough time before the project is due, seek out help:
- talking with your instructor or a librarian
- on-line resources at UIS and other institutions
- make an appointment with a writing tutor in the Center for Teaching and Learning
Unintentional plagiarism happens. You may forget to include a citation, or you may not realize that you’ve borrowed too heavily from an original source. However, the “I didn’t mean to” explanation does not mean you’re not responsible for acting improperly. The university expects students to understand and follow the rules for academic integrity. So if you have questions find someone – your professor, a librarian, a tutor in the Center for Teaching and Learning – and ask for help. If you have a paper that has been returned and the professor informs you of a possible violation, take the time to meet with the professor and understand her/his concerns. Be willing to admit your mistakes, demonstrate how it was unintentional, and work to make it right with their help and guidance. Most professors understand the difference between real mistakes and real attempts to cheat.
I’ve met with my professor who wants me to sign an informal resolution, but I don’t think that what I did counts as a violation of the academic integrity policy. What should I do?
Consult with the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) on what constitutes a violation. If you still feel you are wrongly accused, consult with the chair or dean of the course’s department. And if you still don’t agree with the terms the professor is willing to provide for an informal resolution, contact the chair of the academic integrity council to schedule a hearing for a formal resolution of the matter.