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Academic honesty

First-Year Writing Academic Honesty

The First-Year Writing Program takes responsibility for educating students about what academic dishonesty is and how to avoid it, and also about what the consequences are for academic dishonesty in our program. Academic dishonesty happens for many reasons and to varying degrees, so it requires discretion on your part. As a first step,  email Caroline Dadas to talk through the circumstances (each instance is slightly different). You should also meet with the student to get their perspective; often, you will find that the student did not understand citation practices. Remember that there are many reasons why plagiarism occurs (including not understanding how to paraphrase, cite, etc.), and we encourage you not to see it as directed at you personally.


Dishonesty Prevention

We are at our best when we work to prevent academic dishonesty.  A number of students who commit academic dishonesty do so accidentally (because they don’t understand documentation rules, for example) or impulsively (because they have put off an assignment and feel overwhelmed), and these students can be helped by strong instruction.  Here are some suggestions:

Point out the academic dishonesty policy in your syllabus during the first week of classes.  This policy is part of the standardized front matter for all First-Year Writing courses.

Teach Documentation.  In WRIT 105 and WRIT 106, review and discuss the specifics of appropriate documentation.  Discuss and, most importantly, practice direct quotation, summary, and paraphrase.  It’s helpful to have students practice appropriate documentation on essays in which they use a common text, as then you will be able to make sure they have summarized, paraphrased or quoted correctly. 

Structure Assignments.  Structure assignments so that there are many sequential elements.  Proposals, in-class-writes, early drafts, revision drafts, and final drafts should be assigned and, at the end of the unit, collected.  While you need not read all of the material that accompanies the final drafts, collecting these materials dissuades academic dishonesty.

Remind Students Again.  When beginning the documented essay assignment, remind students of techniques to avoid academic dishonesty.

Develop paper topics carefully.  Consider avoiding very open topics; specific and highly individualized paper topics  make it more difficult for students to commit academic dishonesty.



Reporting Dishonesty

Upon finding documented evidence of academic dishonesty, faculty must follow these steps:

  • Scan student essay and relevant evidence (source materials)
  • Email student to inform her/him that the paper is plagiarized and provide evidence via website link(s) and pdf attachment(s).
  • Copy Caroline Dadas, First-Year Writing Director, and Jerry Collins on the email message.  If this is a first offense, the student will receive a letter from the Student Conduct office; if this is a second offense, the student’s case will go forward to a disciplinary hearing.  Students whose cases go forward to a hearing face possible expulsion from the University.
  • All students accused of academic dishonesty have the right to a meeting with their instructor. A third party may be present for this meeting at instructor or student request.
  • Once the instructor has supplied documented evidence of plagiarism, s/he has the option of failing the student for the paper with a grade of “0,” or failing the student for the full class. We ask you to reserve the last option for rare, severe cases.The instructor will make this decision in consultation with the First-Year Writing Director, Caroline Dadas.

See also the University Policy on Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism.



Research and the Professional Conversation on Academic Dishonesty