Examples of academic dishonesty seem to be everywhere. College presidents, newspaper journalists, college professors, and renowned scientists have recently been accused of plagiarism or fraudulently claiming their work is their own or of outright fabrication of data.
This policy has been developed to help students understand what academic honesty is and to understand the penalties should a student choose to act dishonestly.
Academic Honesty Policy
Students are expected to demonstrate honesty and integrity while in attendance at Boylan High School. Each student is expected to do his or her own work. This includes test taking, homework, class assignments and the original creation of essays, compositions, term papers and scientific research. All work submitted by students should be a true reflection of their effort and ability.
The following are considered cheating:
- Claiming credit for work not the product of one's own honest effort.
- Providing access to materials or information so that credit may be dishonestly claimed by others.
- Sharing work with another student or assisting them to obtain another's work.
Any behavior, which can be defined as cheating, represents a violation of mutual trust and respect essential to education at Boylan High School. Students who cheat should expect to be confronted by their teacher and be subject to the following penalties:
- "F" on the assignment or test.
- Notification of parents.
- Establishment of a cheating record in the student's file.
- Until graduation.
If a student is found to have cheated a second time, the student will be referred to the Assistant Principal. Consequences could include:
- Drop from the class.
- Loss of credit and an "F" appearing on the transcript.
- No replacement course being allowed.
Let's make some things clear...
- The underlying assumption in all schoolwork is each student does his or her own work.
- The teacher is not required to tell the students each time that they are to work alone.
- If teachers choose, they may give permission for students to work together, but this is the exception.
Boylan Catholic High School Handbook, 2006-2007, p.33.
The rule is simple: Academic honesty requires that work submitted by the student be his or her own work. If other persons contribute to the work, they must be given credit for their contribution. If contributors are not cited, the student has cheated.
Students who quote or paraphrase from sources such as books, periodicals, the internet, interviews, other students, etc. must cite the source of the material. Failure to cite sources is called plagiarism.
Please note the other types of academic dishonesty as cited in the Boylan Student Handbook and reproduced in this document.
During or before tests or quizzes any attempt to discover answers from others or by using "cheat sheets", cell phones or any other means is cheating.
Procedures for Enforcement
Teachers or other school personnel who discover that a student has attempted to cheat or has cheated have two options depending upon the severity and circumstances of the violation:
- They may deal with the violation with the student and not report the violation to the administration.
- They may report the violation to the administration.
In either case, students will have the opportunity to explain their actions.
Once the violation has been reported to the administration, if the student is guilty of violating the Academic Honesty Policy, the penalties as stated in the Academic Honesty Policy will be put into effect.
What's the Worst that Could Happen?
The immediate impact is on the student's grade. A student who has been guilty of academic dishonesty would have a grade reduction according to the following:
- Homework – “F” grade is recorded as zero percent or zero points.
- Quiz – “F” grade is recorded as zero percent or zero points.
- Weekly, unit or chapter test – “F” grade is recorded as zero percent or zero points.
- Quarter Examination – Student receives an “F”. Quarter grade is calculated using zero percent (0%) or zero points (()) as 1/3 of quarter grade.
- Quarter Project – If the project replaces a quarter test, student receives an “F”. Quarter grade is calculated using zero as 1/3 of the quarter grade.
- Semester Examination – Student receives an “F”. Semester grade is calculated using zero as 1/5 of the semester grade.
- Project – Not quarter test replacement. Student receives an “F” or zero points or zero percent. The value (test grade, homework grade etc.) of the project is determined by the teacher and published as part of description of the assignment. Whatever the value, the grade would be zero.
On a more personal level, the student could destroy the relationship of trust that existed between the teacher and student.
- If a second episode were to occur the student may be given a failing grade for the course.
- If the course is not required for graduation, the failure may drop the student below the minimum number of credits needed for graduation. If this occurs, the student would need to make up the deficiency in order to be eligible for graduation.
- If the course is required for graduation, the student would need to make up the failure through summer school or correspondence course.
- If the second episode of cheating in a required course occurred during the second semester of senior year, the student may not graduate until the failure was made-up.
The establishment of a cheating record in the student's file may have long-term repercussions. The file is removed upon graduation; however, authorized school personnel have access to the student records. Should a student ask a teacher, counselor or administrator to write a letter of recommendation for the student for college admission or scholarship, the person may decline based on the cheating episode.
One final consideration, the "Common College Application" form used by many colleges and universities asks: "Has the applicant been found responsible for a disciplinary violation at your school, whether related to academic misconduct [our bold] or behavioral misconduct, that resulted in the applicant's probation, suspension, removal, dismissal, or expulsion from your institutions?"
What impact do you think a "Yes" answer would have on your chances of acceptance?
What is Plagiarism?
Plagiarism is defined as "the act of passing off as one's own the ideas or writings of another." In the Appendix to the Honor Council pamphlet called "Acknowledging the Work of Others" (which is used by permission of Cornell University), three simple conventions are presented for when you must provide a reference:
- If you use someone else's ideas, you should cite the source.
- If the way in which you are using the source is unclear, make it clear.
- If you received specific help from someone in writing the paper, acknowledge it.
They Said it so Much Better. Shouldn't I use Their Words?
And LeBron James can play basketball better than you can, and Miles Davis can play better blues than you do on the trumpet. Learning to write is learning to think. Sure, you won't have a lot of original thoughts, very few of us do. But you will have your original way of looking at things, which is a combination of everything you have done to this point in your life. As you read others' works and ponder, argue with, distill, reconcile yourself to, or reject them, you are growing intellectually, just as you would grow physically by lifting weights or playing the piano.
I thought I could use someone's words if I reference or cite the source.
You can, and this happens all the time in academia. It is necessary for building upon the works of others. The trouble comes when you start to use someone else's words all throughout your paper. Pretty soon your paper looks like nothing but a field of quotation marks with a few country roads in between (your few sentences) connecting them. This does not represent very much intellectual work on your part. You have assembled a paper rather than writing one. Some people set out to deliberately plagiarize, but I am not talking about them. I am talking about how you will get yourself into trouble by adopting the vocabulary words and phrases of an author, using them throughout your paper, and not thinking that you have to put quotation marks around each phrase or key word.
What is a Paraphrase, Anyway?
Paraphrase is stating someone else's ideas in your own words. If you think about it a little, you will realize that it's something that we all do all the time. You watch the World Cup on TV, and you tell me the story of how the U.S. team fell short again, and I retell the story to my friend in my own way. I probably don't stop to give you credit. If we were constantly stopping to give credit, then our discourse would bog down. However, since we are having a conversation, if you need to know more, you can ask me: What's the source of that stuff? And I can say: "It was Jimmy, he watched the game so he should know." And you say: "Jimmy doesn't know what he's talking about."
So why do you have to cite the source of something when you are writing? Doesn't this also bog down the discourse? Yes, in some of the papers you read it seems like there are more footnotes than the paper text itself. But yes, you do have to cite sources, even for paraphrase. You see when your teacher reads your paper, you're not around. He can't call you and ask you for the source. You may not remember unless you put in the citation anyway (then you have really left yourself vulnerable if a teacher does know the source, as he or she probably will).
So when you are writing the paper, think about the reader and what questions he or she would ask. If you can imagine the reader saying: "What was the source of that idea?" then you should cite it, even if you rewrote it in your own words.
My Friends get Stuff from the Internet, Why Can't I?
So do you, so do I, so does everybody. With plans in existence for putting everything in libraries in digital form, the accessibility of virtually any text will become a reality in the not-too-distant future. This means that the temptation to start with someone else's words in a word processor and massage them into a paper will become greater and greater.
The practical consequence of all this information in electronic form is that you will be tempted. You'll find out there are sites where you can download whole papers, and you'll be able to find articles about many topics within a moment's notice. Of course your teachers will have access to these same tools with the same lightening quick speeds. But that's not the point. You're not in school to play a cat and mouse game with your teacher to see if you can fool him or her by using someone else's work. You are in school to hone your mind into a reliable thinking machine that will serve you well throughout the rest of your life. This is the number one skill you are here to obtain: thinking. Why do you think the system of education has changed so little over the past few thousand years? Just as great teachers such as Jesus sat with his disciples, so you sit with your teachers. You present your thoughts to one who has had greater experience thinking than you have, and this one coaches you little by little to become a better thinker yourself. Presenting someone else's work turns this relationship into a fraud, and cheats you out of the very thing you are in school to get. What you would be getting away with, if you are not caught, is wasting your money.
So how can you use stuff that's already in electronic form? Various teachers have widely divergent opinions about this subject. It may be more useful to print it out before you start writing and use it like you would a book. At least then cutting and pasting is not so convenient. Always write your papers from scratch, starting with a blank screen. Don't cut and paste from various documents. If you do cut and paste a little, make sure each passage is properly cited. Do the citation work at the time of writing instead of leaving it for the end. Be realistic about what you are doing. If you are doing a lot of cutting and pasting, chances are you are not writing a very good paper.
What if I don't have Time to do it Right?
Who does? In the olden days, a scholar might take 20 years to write his or her treatise. But that's when the total number of books in the world could fit inside the Titanic. Now you have three papers to write by Friday, a Titan soccer game to attend on Wednesday, and ballroom dance lessons Thursday which you are not going to miss because Mr./Ms. Right will be there!
If you choose to spend your time so as to leave too little for writing, then I have little advice to give you. You should accept the possibility that you will get a lower grade rather than risking plagiarism and a life-changing penalty. If you are unable to get the papers done, you can always try the age-old remedy of asking for an extension. Many teachers will be sympathetic, and believe me, if it comes to a choice between plagiarizing, turning in really poor work, or humbling yourself a little to explain to your teacher what is happening, the third course is the best. Perhaps he or she will tell you that no extension will be given, and perhaps you will get a lower grade on that assignment. But that's still not as bad as a penalty.
A lot of teachers really want you to succeed and may be willing to give you a break. You see, they want the same thing that you do: to see you become an excellent thinker. When you don't turn in your own work or work that represents a good effort on your part, you rob the teacher of the chance to do what he or she does for a living. Is it any wonder that teachers get angry when students don't turn their work in on time or present hastily constructed, sloppy work?
What's a Citation, Anyway?
Before we even get to the idea of citation, let's make sure one thing is clear: if you are using a word-for-word, literal quotation, you have to put the passage you are quoting in quotation marks. If it is a long passage–more than three lines of text in your paper–you should start a new line and indent, citing the citation at the end of the paragraph. Only these two mechanisms are acceptable for indicating quoted material.
There are several systems for citing, or giving reference to, the ideas of others. Some teachers want you to use a specific system. Others don't care which you use, as long as you are consistent. All teachers want you to present complete information. For example, if you are citing a passage, you should give the author's name, the name of the book, the publisher, the date and place of publication, and the page number of the quotation. The whole reference allows the reader to track it down and see what it says for him or herself. It's part of the scientific paradigm that is prevalent in Western societies, which says that convincing evidence about the truth of a hypothesis can be built up only by amassing several independent direct or indirect confirmations of the hypothesis. If I can track down the source, I can see for myself whether I think it is valid.
Citing books and magazines isn't too hard, but what about stuff like web pages? Try to reference the TITLE of the page, at the top of the document (or perhaps at the topic of your browser window, the URL of the page (its location on the web), the AUTHOR of the page if you can find one (or an organization if it appears that an organization wrote the page), the TITLE and DATE of the broader work if you can discern it, and the date on which you visited the web page. For example, if today is Oct. 1, 1999, you might cite this page as:
Georgetown University Honor Council (1999). What Is Plagiarism? [Online] Georgetown University Honor Council Web Site. URL: https://honorcouncil.georgetown.edu/whatisplagiarism/ [June. 1, 2022].
There are several problems associated with citing web pages:
- Finding out the proper address to record.
If frames are being used, the actual web page address is hidden. In this case you can look at the page properties in Netscape or Internet Explorer to find out the true address. Merely citing the top-level frame address is like citing a whole shelf in the library. It doesn't give the reader enough information to find the page again. Try to think: what will I need to find the address again. I have seen cases where students have copied entire paragraphs from an Internet source and listed the generic top-level web domain (e.g. http://www.cnbc.com) as the reference. This is far from sufficient for tracking the paper down and could lead to a charge of plagiarism.
- Finding out the author of the page.
This may be quite difficult, and you may have to look above or below the page itself in order to find out who it is.
- Finding the page again at all.
The web page may disappear tomorrow. If you have not recorded the citation information immediately, waiting until the last minute, you may not be able to find it, ever again. This is a big problem because now you have written the paper, you know at some level you have committed plagiarism, yet you don't want to rewrite the paper. You have painted yourself into a corner. It may be a good idea to download important pages to your computer, keeping them in a folder associated with the paper, or doing printouts of certain pages and keeping them. I use a system for research where I use the URL as part of the file name, so I know exactly where the information came from.
There are several guidelines and style sheets that have been written for citing these new sources, and you should surely consult them. Be sure to consult your teacher about what is the acceptable citation style.
What if my Friends Helped Me?
Defining the limits of acceptable collaboration is always difficult. Sometimes teachers give vague instructions, and sometimes it gets confusing when you have different standards from different teachers in different classes. That's why you should never make any assumptions about whether you are allowed to collaborate. You should always expect that the answer is," No," and then carefully read the assignment and syllabus, listen to what the teacher says, and ask if you are unclear. It is your responsibility to know what is acceptable collaboration.
Knowing the limits is one half of the equation. The other half is giving proper credit. If you spent long hours discussing the themes from your paper on Andy Warhol with your uncle, who happened to have lived in Greenwich Village and knew people who knew him, then just cite your uncle as a source in a footnote. Then there is no doubt that you are giving proper credit for help received.
And make sure you are clear with your friends about the kind of help you are giving them. I have seen a number of cases where a student will allow another student to read his draft or final version of paper so that the second student can get some ideas about how to get started. Sometimes the second student copies the paper verbatim; sometimes he or she uses material from it that constitutes plagiarism. Some teachers will tell you that reading each other's papers is an excellent learning device, while others will say you should not do this under any circumstances. So, the bottom line again is know the limits, act within them, and give proper credit.
But What if I Really Didn't Do It?
Did you know that you are responsible for not plagiarizing even if you don't know what it is? It is your responsibility to know. Even if you didn't mean to do it, if you did, and you get caught, it doesn't matter that you didn't know.
Having said that, what if you are sure you didn't plagiarize and the teacher says you did. The teacher says you must have bought the paper on the Internet because it was so much better than the other stuff you wrote. If you can show him or her your drafts, the notes you took, and any other materials you used in writing the paper or if you can show that you submitted your paper to turnitin.com and it came back indicating no plagiarism, then you probably will be able to show that it was your own work. If you have nothing, it's going to be harder to prove. Still, if you can talk convincingly about the material in the paper, including things you decided to leave out, why you made the argument the way you did, how the writings you cited fit into the paper, where you found those writings, etc.–you should be able to convince either the teacher or the administrator that it was your own work. So keep your notes and learn the material well. Talk with your teacher during the course of working on the assignment to discuss your argument. Engage in a discussion with him or her. Note that in order to do this, you need to get started earlier. You won't have much time to engage your teacher in conversation if you are working on the paper at 3am the night before it is due.
*The above question and answer portion of this document is reproduced with permission from Georgetown University Honor Council (1999). What Is Plagiarism? [Online] Georgetown University Honor Council Web Site. URL: https://honorcouncil.georgetown.edu/whatisplagiarism/ [June. 1, 2022].
The contents have been edited and abridged. The complete document can be found at the URL: https://honorcouncil.georgetown.edu/whatisplagiarism/ [June. 1, 2022]
How do I Cite Sources?
This depends on what type of work you are writing, how you are using the borrowed material, and the expectations of your instructor.
First, you have to think about how you want to identify your sources. If your sources are very important to your ideas, you should mention the author and work in a sentence that introduces your citation. If, however, you are only citing the source to make a minor point, you may consider using parenthetical references, footnotes, or endnotes.
There are also different forms of citation for different disciplines. For example, when you cite sources in a psychology paper you would probably use a different form of citation than you might in a paper for an English class.
Finally, you should always consult your instructor to determine the form of citation appropriate for your paper. You can save a lot of time and energy simply by asking "How should I cite my sources," or "What style of citation should I use?" before you begin writing.