What is academic integrity and why is it important?
Academic integrity is a core value at the heart of Hofstra’s mission and the basis for just about everything we do. It involves honestly reporting the reasons and sources for one’s conclusions or creative work. Without it, the natural and social sciences couldn’t advance knowledge. The humanities and the arts require it to encourage and cultivate creativity and new forms of expression. In short, there is nothing more important about academic life than knowing that we are dealing with one another honestly.
But why is it important for me? I’m a student and not likely to be producing conclusions or creative works on which others have to depend.
First of all, you are “only” a student for now. We expect Hofstra students to take their places among the scientists, scholars, creative artists and in the world of business in the not too distant future. Cultivating the values we know will lead you to be productive and successful in all of these roles is an explicit part of the Hofstra mission. So, it makes a great difference that you see yourself from the beginning as part of a community dedicated to academic integrity and that you develop habits that will enable you to contribute and lead to your future success.
I’ve never cheated or copied others’ work. Is there something else I should be doing to help cultivate academic integrity at Hofstra?
You’ve already done a lot just living up to the goals implicit in our understanding of academic integrity. Beyond that, however, it is important that your friends and other students know that you value academic integrity. When it comes up (and it always comes up at some point in a student’s undergraduate years) it is crucial that you be explicit about what you think. It will be easier for your friends who may be tempted to cheat to stay on the good side of the law if they that their friend feels strongly about academic honesty and would be disappointed in someone who takes a shortcut. On this issue your voice is a much more effective instrument than just about any other tool we might have. Along these same lines you can also help by joining in the ongoing public conversations about academic integrity sponsored by the Task Force or others.
Does Hofstra have an honor code? What does it say?
Hofstra expects all community members to commit to the community standards that are summarized in the P.R.I.D.E. Principles which include the following statement and pledge: “Academic integrity is paramount to the credibility of the University's reputation and the scholarly pursuits of its members. Hofstra students bear the ultimate responsibility for upholding the principles of academic honesty and integrity. ‘I will not engage in any activity that will violate the standards of academic integrity and will not tolerate acts of cheating, plagiarism, falsification, forgery, perjury, misrepresentation or dishonesty.’”
What if I’m not certain about what is permitted? For example, can I resubmit work I’ve submitted in another class?
When in doubt it is always best to ask your professor. In most instances, simply resubmitting previously submitted work would be viewed as a form of “self-plagiarism.” The dishonesty involves whether you’ve actually produced work in response to the specific requirements of that course and engaged in the kind of learning the instructor hopes to foster in you that semester. A conversation with your professor, however, could help you to see how you might look back at previous work and build upon it in a way that allows you to produce something that extends your earlier insights in new and exciting ways and that meets the professor’s goals for your learning in that semester.
What about sharing homework?
Again, the key here is to be sure you understand the professor’s intentions with the assignment. Sometimes collaborative work is encouraged and the results are really best seen as a common product of shared activity. Other times, however, the professor intends for you to work through things on your own so that you develop the skills or learn the information necessary for your own future success. When in doubt, ask the instructor. Most will give you clear and straight advice quickly.
A friend asked to see my paper? Can I show it to her/him?
This can be a tricky situation. If your friend is asking for your help as he/she is thinking through his/her own approach to an assignment the sharing of work can be helpful and is to be encouraged. At the same time, there are many cases where a “friend” has taken the basic structure of a paper, changed things a bit, and submitted it as his or her own work. When this comes to light (and it almost always does) the instructor will be unable to tell who did the original work and who copied. As a result you could find yourself accused of academic dishonesty without any tools for proving that the work is yours. To protect yourself it is best not to share final versions of your papers with others. If you chose to do so, however, it is important to be explicit about your expectations and intentions with your friend. An upfront conversation about how the work is to be used will usually help you to avoid most problems.
I have been notified by my professor that he/she thinks I cheated. What should I do? What can I expect?
What you should do:
The first thing you should do is meet with the professor to discuss the circumstances. Understand that such conversations are difficult for you and your teacher. No faculty member wants to accuse someone of cheating, and no student wants to stand accused. If you did engage in behavior inconsistent with academic integrity you should acknowledge the mistake and be willing to accept the consequences.
Here’s what to expect:
Reporting: Faculty are required to report every incident of academic dishonesty to the Provost’s Office and in turn the Dean of Students/Office of Community Standards. So, you can expect that if your teacher concludes that you have cheated, s/he will submit a report and you will receive a copy.
Penalties: Under current Hofstra policy the penalty for academic integrity violations is determined by the instructor. Many faculty calibrate the punishment to their understanding of the severity of the violation. Normally, it will result in some reduction in the grade for the work and/or the course as a whole. Depending on the offense, and on the professor’s policies you should expect to receive some penalty up to and including an F for the course. If this is a first offense the penalty assigned by the instructor is normally the full extent of the punishment. Second offenses are treated much more severely and may include additional sanctions assigned by the school’s dean or the Provost’s office.
Procedures: The procedures governing the handling of academic integrity violations differ somewhat among the schools but are outlined in detail in these documents: Undergraduate Students: FPS 11, Graduate Students: FPS 11G, Law School Students: FPS 11A, and Medical School Students (Bulletin 2010-11 p. 111ff). The process typically begins with a request by your professor to meet with you to discuss his/her concerns. If s/he concludes that a violation has occurred s/he will assign a punishment and report the matter to the Provost’s office within a fixed period after having brought the matter to your attention. If you feel the professor is mistaken regarding the incident or unfair in the penalties assigned you have a right to appeal. The procedures for appeal are also outlined in detail Undergraduate Students: FPS 11, Graduate Students: FPS 11G, Law School Students: FPS 11A, and Medical School Students (Bulletin 2010-11 p. 111ff). Pay careful attention to the rules involving the timing of each stage of the process. There is a fixed period of time for your appeal.
What if I know I didn’t cheat but can’t convince the professor?
Who is notified the first time a student is accused of cheating by his/her teacher?
The information is communicated to the Office of Community Standards, logged into a confidential database and placed in a confidential file. If there are no further incidents the information remains confidential and has no additional impact beyond the initial penalty assessed by the faculty member.
What penalties can a teacher apply to someone who he/she believes has cheated.
At Hofstra the faculty member is solely responsible for determining the proper punishment in the context of the class and the extent of the violation.
What can I expect to happen if I admit to a professor that I cheated when he/she confronts me?
A student who admits having committed an offense is more likely to generate in the professor a willingness to see the violation within a larger context and to take into account any mitigating circumstances. Stonewalling, especially when evidence of misconduct is clear, almost always leads to bad feelings and stronger sanctions. Keep in mind that this process is difficult for everyone involved. Making it longer and harder typically leads to even more unpleasantness.
Are students ever suspended and/or expelled from the University for cheating?
Yes. This is possible when a student is charged with a second offense.