June 15, 2004
Dear Faculty Member:
As a means to advocate ethical behavior at Georgia Tech, the Honor Advisory Council has created this bulletin in order to both substantially reduce the “gray areas” in regards to academic misconduct for every assignment, test, quiz, etc., and aid you in creating clear, detailed syllabi. We, the Honor Advisory Council, are a group of students who seek to promote academic integrity and ethical behavior in the GT community. By putting together efforts such as this, we hope to decrease the number of academic violations at Georgia Tech. Enclosed are examples of recommended guidelines to follow when creating your syllabi. We wish to make this detailed enough that you can cut and paste into your syllabi some of the examples that pertain to your courses. For more information on the Honor Advisory Council and the Academic Honor Code, please visit our website at www.honor.gatech.edu.
As a general guideline, the Office of Student Integrity and the Honor Advisory Council recommend that each faculty member use their first class of the semester to stress academic conduct issues in a clear and specific manner. Also, briefly repeat your policies throughout the semester. This helps to set the tone for student conduct during the semester, and may cause the student to think twice when considering cheating.
1. State what is and what is not plagiarism:
While referring a student to the GT Academic Honor Code may seem sufficient to most faculty, students often ignore this helpful link. Thus, here is an example of a useful statement to add into your syllabus:
Plagiarizing is defined by Webster’s as “to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own : use (another's production) without crediting the source.”
If caught plagiarizing, you will be dealt with according to the GT Academic Honor Code.
Plagiarism is an institute wide problem, and there are many reasons for its occurrence. As you all know many of our students are from foreign countries, and many have been brought up in a culture where plagiarism is not considered academic misconduct. Thus, we recommend that you be very clear when explaining your policies on plagiarism. Using statements such as:
“Quote and attribute any words that are not your own.”
”Do not cut and paste more than ___% of your paper; any percentage more than this will be considered plagiarism.”
“This includes the use of "word.” (With "word" being any material a student may have acquired from a previous semester of your class. This statement can also be used at your discretion.)
Also, include links to sources for MLA guidelines (or any guidelines you may choose) on your website and syllabus. This can help students with citation issues without having to consult you.
2. Define what authorized collaboration is and what unauthorized collaboration is FOR YOUR CLASS.
This area can be broken down into at least two categories, such as: Homework/Projects and Quizzes/Tests.
There is one statement that would be very beneficial to apply to both of these categories. That statement being: “Unless specifically identified as group work; quizzes, tests, take–home-tests, homework, etc. are to be completed alone.”
After dealing with many academic misconduct cases involving ambiguity over collaboration/cheating issues we strongly recommend you avoid the phrase “You may work together, but all work must be your own.” This statement is not precise or clear to students, and many misconduct issues have come up as a result of it.
Here are some possible examples that would be beneficial in crafting your syllabi:
For Homework/Projects, it would be very beneficial on both sides to define your collaboration policies clearly. For instance:
“When working on homework, you may not work with other students, and doing such is a violation of the GT Academic Honor Code. Submitting any work other than your own is also a violation of the Academic Honor Code.”
“When working on homework, you may work with other students in the class. However; you must turn in separate copies (or one copy), of the homework with the following written on it: your name, the names of everyone you collaborated with, and (insert anything else you would normally require on an assignment.)”
This method could apply to situations where you might rather have students working together, but not in large groups.
An example of a syllabus statement from the Math Department is as follows:
“Late Homework will not be accepted. You are allowed (and encouraged) to work together with other students on homework, as long as you write up and turn in your own solutions. You are also allowed (and encouraged) to ask me questions, although you should try to think about the problems before asking. I strongly encourage you to work on extra problems from the book on your own.”
Cheating off of another person’s test or quiz is unethical and unacceptable. Cheating off of anyone else’s work is a direct violation of the GT Academic Honor Code, and will be dealt with accordingly.
3. Inform students of whether or not they may use old quizzes, tests, homework, etc. (a.k.a. “word.”)
“Word” is saved copies of old tests, quizzes, homework, projects, or other coursework you may have given in past semesters. The main reason why students use these materials is that in many courses professors do not change their coursework from semester to semester. The best way to deal with this problem is to alter your tests, quizzes, homework, projects, and other materials from semester to semester. Here is an example of defining whether or not “word” may be used for your course:
“Unauthorized use of any previous semester course materials, such as tests, quizzes, homework, projects, and any other coursework, is prohibited in this course. Using these materials will be considered a direct violation of academic policy and will be dealt with according to the GT Academic Honor Code.”
If you allow the use of “word,” then you need to explain which forms of “word” students may use.
“Use of any previous semester course materials is allowed for this course; however, I remind you that while they may serve as examples for you, they are not guidelines for any tests, quizzes, homework, projects, or any other coursework that may be assigned during the semester.”
4. Include the statement:
“For any questions involving these or any other Academic Honor Code issues, please consult me, my teaching assistants, or www.honor.gatech.edu.”
We hope that these guidelines are of use to you, the academic faculty. Through our combined efforts, Georgia Tech will further develop its reputation as a place for high standards and academic integrity. Thank you for your time and consideration, and if you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to contact the council through our website. We look forward to working with you to foster a more ethical environment within the Georgia Tech community.
The Members of the Georgia Tech Honor Advisory Council