Frequently Asked Questions

What Do Students Need to Know About Academic Integrity?
What Do Faculty Need to Know About Academic Integrity?
What Happens When a Student has Plagiarized or Engaged in Academic Dishonesty?

What Do Students Need to Know About Academic Integrity?

How can I avoid plagiarism?

See the Student Resources page for specific information and/or ask your instructor.

What should a student do if he/she knows another student is cheating and knows the instructor doesn't know about it?

The decision is ultimately up to you. However, keep in mind that the value of your grade is diminished when someone else cheats to earn a higher grade. Also, the Code of Student Conduct requires that each of us "exercise good judgement and appropriately report violations."

How can a student be sure that other students aren't gaining an advantage by cheating? That is, how can a student be sure he/she is not losing out by being honest?

There is no foolproof way to be sure that other individuals aren't cheating. However, you can be sure that you are getting the education that you are paying for by completing all of your assignments with integrity. You can also encourage the students around you to complete their work with integrity and report any violations to the instructor.

What defense does a student have if he/she is wrongfully accused of plagiarism or academic dishonesty?

If you are acused of academic dishonesty, you have the right to a hearing. The hearing procedures are outlined under section 2.3 in the Code of Student Conduct .

If I have another person edit my paper because I am a weak writer, is that cheating?

If you aren't the best writer in the world, the University encourages you to get help revising your papers. One of the best resources on campus is the Writing Center. If you have someone help you revise your papers, it is important to remember that the feedback should focus on helping you revise your own work, not rewriting your work for you.

If you have a question that isn't answered here, check the Student Resources page. It contains links to valuable resources for answering even the trickiest questions.

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What Do Faculty Need to Know About Academic Integrity?

What information about Academic Integrity should a syllabus contain?

Every course syllabus should include the following:

  • A clear statement about academic integrity
  • The instructor's course policies for dealing with breaches of integrity
  • The URL for this website

If a student's academic integrity is called into question, the faculty member will need to follow his/her syllabus statement when dealing with the issue. Many faculty use syllabus statements such as the following:

Example One (D. Boehm):
The value of a university degree is based on its academic integrity; it certifies that the student has acquired the knowledge, skills and professional behaviors required by his/her program of study. Thus, scholarly honesty is an expectation for all student work. In the case of researched writing assignments, scholarly honesty requires a student to appropriately document sources for all material that is not personal knowledge or public doman. The student who incorporates source material into a paper, whether by summary, paraphrase, or quotation, will identify the source of that material both in-text and in a bibliography, following the documentation format required for that assignment.

Unethical writing practices, such as plagiarism, often occur when students fail to provide in-text citations and/or references, when they fail to use their own language when summarizing or paraphrasing, or when they fail to mark the original language of a source as a quotation. Such unethical writing practices are subject to the policies stated in the SVSU Student Handbook and in the Code of Student Conduct , Section 1.8, Academic Dishonesty.

Example Two (F. Dane):
Every student enrolled in this course is expected to be familiar with the Code of Student Conduct. If, at any time, you have any questions about the Code or information about a violation of the Code related to this course, you should contact me. You may do this in any way that is most comfortable for you (e.g., email, telephone, in person).

According to Webster's II New Riverside University Dictionary, to plagiarize means either "to steal and use (the ideas or writings of another) as one's own" or "to take passages or ideas from and use them as one's own" (p. 898). In an academic setting, academic dishonesty includes:

  1. Submitting a paper, examination, or other assignment as your own when it was written or created, in whole or in part, by another.
  2. Using portions of another's writing (word-for-word phrasing) without enclosing the passage in quotation marks and acknowledging the source in the appropriate scholarly convention.
  3. Using a unique term or concept without acknowledging its author or source.
  4. Paraphrasing or restating someone else's ideas without acknowledging that this other person's text was the basis for that paraphrasing.
  5. Presenting false data, for example, data that have been fabricated, or altered, or borrowed from someone else.
  6. Submitting the same paper or assignment for more than one course or purpose without the expressed consent of all of the instructors involved.
  7. Having someone correct your writing (as opposed to pointing out errors) without explicitly acknowledging that person as a co-author, copy editor, proofreader, or other appropriate term.

If material you submit fits any of the above examples, you shall receive a zero on the relevant assignment; dishonest work is not an acceptable means by which to fulfill course requirements. In addition, your case will be referred to the Dean of Student Affairs.

You must neither receive, nor give, assistance on any test. I encourage students to study with others for this course. However, it is important that you prevent any appearance of collusion during exams. If questions arise about collusion during an examination, then the fact that two people studied together will not be acceptable explanation except when the students were well separated during the examination. Academic dishonesty on examinations will earn a zero on the examination. Violations of the no-assistance rule for examinations will also result in your case being referred to the Dean of Student Affairs.

How can a faculty member implement an honor code into his or her class?

A faculty member who wishes to implement an honor code must incorporate it into his/her syllabus and course policies/practices. One way to do this is to have students sign and date an Honor Code statement, such as the following, each time they submit an assignment:
I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on this assignment/examination.

How can an instructor check for potential plagiarism?

Several methods can be used:

  • One method is to use Google or a similar internet search engine; type the questionable passage into the Google search box with quote marks around it. If that passage can be found on the internet, Google will link to the original location.
  • SVSU has a site license to plagiarism detection service, which searches both the internet and selected databases, as well as its own database of previously submitted papers. can also be helpful as a teaching strategy; require students to submit their own papers to and to include an Originality Report when they submit their assignment. To use,  email

How do FERPA laws apply when a student is charged with academic dishonesty?

FERPA laws must be observed. Faculty may not disclose personally identifiable information about students, nor permit inspection of their records without written permission of the student, unless release or inspection is covered by certain exceptions permitted by the Act. Access to student information is limited to a school official's legitimate educational interest.

In the case of a student being sanctioned due to academic dishonesty, the faculty member will receive notification about the disposition of the case.

If you have a question that isn't answered here, check out the Faculty Resources page. It contains links to valuable resources for answering questions regarding academic integrity

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What Happens When a Student has Plagiarized or Engaged in Academic Dishonesty?

What happens when an instructor discovers plagiarism or academic dishonesty?

Instructors deal with plagiarism and/or academic dishonesty according to their own professional judgment, but must adhere to any processes stated in their course syllabus and/or departmental policy. Many faculty give a 0 or F for the first instance of plagiarism, depending on the level of the course. Subsequent violations usually result in course failure; these are to be reported to the Office of Student Conduct Programs for disciplinary action. Other types of academic dishonesty are handled in a similar fashion.

What is the process for reporting a student who has plagiarized?

The reporting process for allegations of academic dishonesty would follow the same protocol as any other complaint regarding student behavioral issues. The regulation that would most likely be cited in the Code of Student Conduct would be 1.8 Academic Dishonesty, 1.8.1: "No student shall cheat, plagiarize, or facilitate academic dishonesty by another student. Students are responsible for completing all assigned academic work without unauthorized aid of any kind."

Faculty may contact Marie Rabideau, Coordinator of Student Conduct Programs, Curtiss 113, (989) 964-2220, for clarification or assistance in filing a complaint.

How much evidence does an instructor need to cite a student for plagiarism?

It is up to the instructor to decide what constitutes plagiarism or other breaches of academic integrity.

What is the adjudication process for a student who has been reported?

The adjucation process would follow due process as outlined in the Code of Student Conduct, Article 2: Disciplinary Process . The procedure would be facilitated by the Coordinator of Student Conduct.

Could an instructor have different course penalties for different types of academic dishonesty (e.g., failure to cite, failure to signal quotations, copying a paragraph, copying a paper, buying or downloading a paper)?

The instructor is free to assign whatever penalties he/she deems appropriate for various types of academic dishonesty. However, students do have the right to a hearing if they feel that they have been wrongfully accused or if they feel that the penalty assigned is too severe.

Can an instructor impose penalties for failure to report another student's academic dishonesty?

According to Section 1.8.1 of the Code of Student Conduct, "No student shall cheat, plagiarize or facilitate academic dishonesty by another student." Instructors may consider failure to report another student for academic dishonesty to be facilitation of academic dishonesty. The instructor would be free to impose penalties for this violation. Once again, students do have the right to a hearing if they disagree with the penalty.

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