COAM Ten Suggestions


Ten Suggestions for Preserving Academic Integrity

(Inspired by and modeled after Northwestern University's Eight Cardinal Rules of Academic Integrity.)

A pdf version of this document is available for download here: 10 Suggestions For Preserving Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is essential to maintaining an environment that fosters excellence in teaching, research, and other educational and scholarly activities. Thus, students are expected to complete all academic and scholarly assignments with fairness and honesty. The following suggestions will help you preserve academic integrity by avoiding situations where you might be tempted to cheat or you might be perceived to be cheating.


  1. ACKNOWLEDGE THE SOURCES THAT YOU USE WHEN COMPLETING ASSIGNMENTS: If you use another person's thoughts, ideas, or words in your work, you must acknowledge this fact. This applies regardless of whose thoughts, ideas, or words you use as well as the source of the information. If you do not acknowledge the work of others, you are implying that another person's work is your own, and such actions constitute plagiarism. Plagiarism is the theft of another's intellectual property, and plagiarism is a serious form of academic misconduct. If you are ever in doubt about whether or not you should acknowledge a source, err on the side of caution and acknowledge it.


  2. AVOID SUSPICIOUS BEHAVIOR: Do not put yourself in a position where an instructor might suspect that you are cheating or that you have cheated. Even if you have not cheated, the mere suspicion of dishonesty might undermine an instructor's confidence in your work. Avoiding some of the most common types of suspicious behavior is simple. Before an examination, check your surroundings carefully and make sure that all of your notes are put away and your books are closed. An errant page of notes on the floor or an open book could be construed as a "cheat sheet." Keep your eyes on your own work. Unconscious habits, such as looking around the room aimlessly or talking with a classmate, could be misinterpreted as cheating.


  3. DO NOT FABRICATE INFORMATION: Never make up data, literature citations, experimental results, or any other type of information that is used in an academic or scholarly assignment.


  4. DO NOT FALSIFY ANY TYPE OF RECORD: Do not alter, misuse, produce, or reproduce any University form or document or other type of form or document. Do not sign another person's name to any form or record (University or otherwise), and do not sign your name to any form or record that contains inaccurate or fraudulent information. Once an assignment has been graded and returned to you, do not alter it and ask that it be graded again. Many instructors routinely photocopy assignments and/or tests before returning them to students, thus making it easy to identify an altered document.


  5. DO NOT GIVE IN TO PEER PRESSURE: Friends can be a tremendous help to one another when studying for exams or completing course assignments. However, don't let your friendships with others jeopardize your college career. Before lending or giving any type of information to a friend or acquaintance, consider carefully what you are lending (giving), what your friend might do with it, and what the consequences might be if your friend misuses it. Even something seemingly innocent, such as giving a friend an old term paper or last year's homework assignments, could result in an allegation of academic misconduct if the friend copies your work and turns it is as his/her own.


  6. DO NOT SUBMIT THE SAME WORK FOR CREDIT IN TWO COURSES: Instructors do not give grades in a course, rather students earn their grades. Thus, instructors expect that students will earn their grades by completing all course requirements (assignments) while they are actually enrolled in the course. If a student uses his/her work from one course to satisfy the requirements of a different course, that student is not only violating the spirit of the assignment, but he/she is also putting other students in the course at a disadvantage. Even though it might be your own work, you are not permitted to turn in the same work to meet the requirements of more than one course. You should note that this applies even if you have to take the same course twice, and you are given the same or similar assignments the second time you take the course; all assignments for the second taking of the course must be started from scratch.


  7. DO YOUR OWN WORK: When you turn in an assignment with only your name on it, then the work on that assignment should be yours and yours alone. This means that you should not copy any work done by or work together with another student (or other person). For some assignments, you might be expected to "work in groups" for part of the assignment and then turn in some type of independent report. In such cases, make sure that you know and understand where authorized collaboration (working in a group) ends and collusion (working together in an unauthorized manner) begins.


  8. MANAGE YOUR TIME: Do not put off your assignments until the last minute. If you do, you might put yourself in a position where your only options are to turn in an incomplete (or no) assignment or to cheat. Should you find yourself in this situation and turn in an incomplete (or no) assignment, you might get a failing grade (or even a zero) on the assignment. However, if you cheat, the consequences could be much worse, such as a disciplinary record, failure of the course, and/or dismissal from the University.


  9. PROTECT YOUR WORK AND THE WORK OF OTHERS: The assignments that you complete as a student are your "intellectual property," and you should protect your intellectual property just as you would any of your other property. Never give another student access to your intellectual property unless you are certain why the student wants it and what he/she will do with it. Similarly, you should protect the work of other students by reporting any suspicious conduct to the course instructor.


  10. READ THE COURSE SYLLABUS AND ASK QUESTIONS: Many instructors prepare and distribute (or make available on a web site) a course syllabus. Read the course syllabus for every course you take! Students often do not realize that different courses have different requirements and/or guidelines, and that what is permissible in one course might not be permissible in another. "I didn't read the course syllabus" is never an excuse for academic misconduct. If after reading the course syllabus you have questions about what is or is not permissible, ask questions!