Code of Academic Integrity


Academic Dishonesty Definitions

(From the Academic Integrity Code of the University of Pennsylvania)

GSE prohibits conduct that is contrary to accepted principles of academic honesty. Membership in this community imposes both an obligation to comply with its rules and the responsibility to assist in their enforcement.

It shall constitute a violation of the GSE Code of Student Academic Integrity for any student knowingly and purposefully to engage in any activity that has the effect or intention of interfering with the education, pursuit of knowledge, or fair evaluation of a student's performance. Examples of such activities include, but are not limited to, the following:

1) Cheating: using or attempting to use unauthorized assistance, material, or study aids in examinations or other academic work or preventing, or attempting to prevent, another from using authorized assistance, material, or study aids. Example: using a cheat sheet in a quiz or exam, using a cell phone or other technology to obtain or share information during an exam, altering a graded exam and resubmitting it for a better grade.

2) Plagiarism: using the ideas, data, or language of another without specific or proper acknowledgment. Example: copying another person's paper, article, or text from a website and submitting it for an assignment, quoting someone else's ideas without attribution, failing to use quotation marks where appropriate.

3) Fabrication: submitting contrived or altered information in any academic exercise. Example: making up data for an experiment, fudging data, citing nonexistent articles, contriving sources.

4) Multiple submissions: submitting, without prior permission, any work submitted to fulfill another academic requirement.

5) Facilitating academic dishonesty: knowingly helping or attempting to help another violate any provision of the Code. Example: working together on a take-home exam.

6) Unfair advantage: attempting to gain unauthorized advantage over fellow students in an academic exercise. Example: gaining or providing unauthorized access to examination materials, obstructing or interfering with another student’s efforts in an academic exercise, lying about a need for an extension for an exam or paper, continuing to write even when time is up during an exam, destroying or keeping library materials for one’s own use.

7) Misrepresentation of academic records: misrepresenting or tampering with or attempting to tamper with any portion of a student’s transcripts or academic record, either before or after coming to the University of Pennsylvania. Example: forging a change of grade slip, tampering with computer records, falsifying academic information on one’s resume.

Infractions can occur in any academic situation including, but not limited to, a course, research project, independent study, presentation, qualifying examination, preliminary examination, or dissertation.

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Procedures for Handling Academic Integrity Violations

GSE embraces the principle that faculty members have wide authority to judge the academic work of their students. The University’s policy titled “Faculty Authority to Assign Grades and Academic Integrity” notes the distinction between academic evaluation and disciplinary action: “Faculty members have the authority to make academic judgments in relation to their students and to make decisions in the interest of furthering their student’s education. Only the institution, acting through its formal processes, may discipline a student. Grades are not sanctions, even if they arise from a judgment that a student has violated a norm of academic integrity. In such cases, the grade may reflect the faculty member’s view that a piece of work was done inappropriately but it represents the quality of the work, not a record of discipline for the behavior.”

(from the PennBook: Resources, Policies and Procedures Handbook)

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Faculty Member’s Options

A faculty member who concludes that a student has violated this Code has two options. The faculty member may assign a grade that reflects the faculty member’s view that the work was done inappropriately, or if the faculty member believes that the violation merits disciplinary sanctions or that further investigation is warranted, the faculty member may refer the matter to the GSE’s Committee on Degrees or Penn’s Office of Student Conduct for discipline - depending on whether or not the student has admitted the violation.

  • Faculty members are strongly encouraged to report all cases to the University’s Office of Student Conduct for handling under the procedures described in the Charter of the University of Pennsylvania Student Disciplinary System.
  • If the faculty wishes to handle the matter with the grading option, it should be reported to the GSE Office of Academic and Student Affairs for recordkeeping.

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Appeals in Matters Involving Academic Dishonesty

Grade Appeals

Ordinarily, only the faculty member who gives a grade has the authority to change the grade. Therefore, a student who wishes to appeal a course grade must first discuss the matter with the faculty member. If this discussion does not yield a mutually acceptable resolution, or should a discussion not be possible, the student may follow the procedures for grade appeals outlined in the Pennbook.       

Appeal in Matters Referred to the Office of Student Conduct

In matters referred to the Office of Student Conduct the appeal procedures described in the Charter will apply.

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A faculty member involved in an academic integrity matter will be informed of the outcome of the disciplinary proceeding by the GSE Office of Academic & Student Affairs. If the student has been found not to be responsible for an academic integrity violation, the instructor may reconsider or regrade the student based upon the outcome of the disciplinary proceedings. In the event that the student believes the final grade is unfair or fails to take account of the outcome of the disciplinary proceeding, the student may appeal the grade through the grade appeals process.

In addition to the channels outlined above, a student may take problems to the Office of Ombudsman. The Ombudsman does not have decision-making authority, but serves as an impartial mediator in helping to resolve disputes. Further, any student who feels that he or she has been subject to discrimination may take his or her complaint to the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs. The role of the Office of Affirmative Action is to coordinate compliance with certain anti-discrimination laws.

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Policy on Ethical Behavior in the Electronic Environment

The University by its very nature values openness and promotes access to a wide range of information. Campus information systems have been designed to be as open as possible, and as such the University insists on responsible use of these systems. Computers, electronic information and computer networks are essential for information and research, instruction and administration within the academic community. Because the electronic environment is easily disrupted and electronic information is readily reproduced, respect for the work and rights of others is especially important. Any intentional behavior with respect to the electronic environment that interferes with the missions or activities of the University or members of the University community will be regarded as unethical and may lead to disciplinary action under standard University rules for misconduct and existing judicial, disciplinary or personnel processes.

The following activities are examples, but not an exhaustive list, of unethical behaviors with respect to the electronic environment:

  • intentionally damaging or destroying the integrity of electronic information;
  • intentionally compromising the privacy of electronic networks or information systems;
  • intentionally disrupting the use of electronic networks or information systems;
  • intentionally infringing upon the intellectual property rights of others in computer programs or electronic information, including plagiarism and unauthorized use or reproduction; or wasting resources (human or electronic) through such actions.

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