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Academic Integrity Center | Student Resources

CAS Advising Team

The College of Arts and Sciences is committed to upholding the University’s value of academic integrity. The Academic Integrity Code helps to establish a community of scholars in conversation, which means responsibly attributing the words and ideas of others, and taking ownership of and initiative to produce original work. 

In the College, Academic Integrity Code violations are handled by a designee of the Dean; ultimately, the Dean makes all final decisions about AIC cases. The AIC administrator begins the adjudication process, organizes panels of faculty to review certain cases, and makes recommendations to the Dean. The administrator also works with faculty and students to educate about and uphold the values of the Code, aiming to create an environment that fosters dialogue and, above all, sponsors learning. 

What is academic integrity?

American University’s introduction to academic integrity

The Center for Academic Integrity’s definition

Why is academic integrity important?

Academic integrity is an integral part of making and sharing knowledge. Your work at the University, the value of your education, and the reputation of the University depend on the standards of ethical, responsible scholars. By registering as a student, you commit to the University’s policies and to upholding the standards outlined in them.

From Linda Stern’s “What Every Student Should Know About Avoiding Plagiarism” -

“The academic community relies on the reciprocal exchange of ideas and information to further knowledge and research. Using material without acknowledging its source violates this expectation and consequently makes it hard for researchers to verify and build on others’ results. It also cheats writers and researchers of the credit they deserve for their work and creativity. Even with the writer’s permission, presenting another’s work as one’s own is equivalent to lying; it’s a form of dishonesty. Perhaps most importantly for students, plagiarizing damages a person’s own self-respect and negates the very reasons he or she is in college to begin with. A student who hands in a plagiarized paper has missed an opportunity for growth and learning” (2)

Academic Integrity Code

The Center for Academic Integrity

What are my responsibilities as a student?

From Linda Stern’s “What Every Student Should Know About Avoiding Plagiarism” -

You have to become educated about what needs to be documented and how to use research material/ material from sources. You have to be loyal to the source material, create citations responsibly, be true to any quotations and use citation styles appropriately” (5). 

Read the Code

Familiarize yourself with your professors’ policies about collaborating, use of cellphones, and protocol for exams, quizzes, and tests

Learn about citation styles 

Learn about responsible paraphrasing, summaries, and quoting, from the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)

Review your student rights and responsibilities

What are the types of Academic Integrity Code violations?

From the Code, Section II: Definition of Academic Integrity Violations

Violating standards of academic conduct is a serious matter subject to discipline. Types of violations are listed and defined below. This section provides explanations and illustrations but does not exhaust the scope of these violations. Academic integrity is not merely a matter of conforming to rules; it must be understood in terms of the broader purposes of a university education.

A. Violations Adjudicated under the Academic Integrity Code

1. Plagiarism
Plagiarism is the representation of someone else’s words, ideas, or work as one’s own without attribution. Plagiarism may involve using someone else’s wording without using quotation marks—a distinctive name, a phrase, a sentence, or an entire passage or essay. Misrepresenting sources is another form of plagiarism. The issue of plagiarism applies to any type of work, including exams, papers, or other writing, computer programs, art, music, photography, video, and other media.

2. Inappropriate Collaboration
Inappropriate collaboration occurs when work that the professor presumes is original to the student is in fact the product of collaboration so close that the originality is no longer individual to the student. Professors often expect students to study together, to brainstorm together, and to read and criticize each other’s work; group projects also require much collaboration. However, these forms of appropriate collaboration become inappropriate when the originality of the work is lost. In addition, for many assignments, such as take-home examinations and some homework assignments, professors specifically limit or restrict collaboration, requiring that all of the work is entirely the student’s own. Before submitting work, students should clarify with their professors what forms of collaboration are appropriate for that assignment.

3. Dishonesty in Examinations (In Class or Take Home)
Dishonesty or cheating in examinations is the use of inappropriate or unauthorized materials, information, or study aids in a test. Unless the instructor directs otherwise, an examination is assumed to be solely a student’s own work. No communication is allowed among students either through voice, written, electronic, or any other form of transmission, nor are students permitted to consult books, papers, study aids or notes without explicit permission. Dishonesty in examination includes but is not confined to copying from another’s paper, giving or receiving unauthorized assistance, obtaining unauthorized advance knowledge of questions on an examination, and using mechanical or marking devices or procedures to achieve false scores on machine-graded examinations. Specific policies regarding examinations may vary with individual professors.

4. Dishonesty in Papers
Dishonesty in papers covers but is not limited to submitting material obtained from another person or company or purchased from either. All papers and materials submitted for a course must be the student’s original work unless the sources are cited.

5. Work Done for One Course and Submitted to Another
This category of violation covers the presentation of the same work in more than one course at any time during a student’s academic career without prior consent from both instructors. When incorporating their own past research into current projects, students must cite previous work. This requirement applies even when the work submitted had been originally for a project for another institution. When the previous instructor cannot be consulted, faculty may permit such a submission.

6. Fabrication of Data
Fabrication is the falsification, distortion, or invention of any information or citation in academic work. Examples include, but are not limited to, inventing a source, deliberately misquoting, or falsifying numbers or other data.

7. Interference with Other Students’ or Scholars’ Work
Interference with the work of others covers but is not limited to acts that deny others access to scholarly resources, or deliberately impede the progress of another student or scholar. Examples include sabotaging laboratory experiments or research, giving misleading information, knowingly deceiving other members of a project team or group, disrupting class work, making library material unavailable to others, or altering the computer files of another.

8. Bribes, Favors, and Threats
Students may not bribe, offer favors to, or threaten anyone with the purpose of affecting a grade or the evaluation of academic performance.

9. Other Academic Misconduct
No specific set of rules or definitions can embrace every act of academic misconduct. A student who employs any form of academic deceit has violated the intellectual enterprise of the university.

What if I’ve violated the code? 

Section III.B: The Adjudication Process

The adjudication process assigns specific roles and jurisdiction to the faculty and to the dean’s office.

1. Faculty Jurisdiction
When convinced that a possible violation was an honest mistake rather than purposeful dishonesty, a faculty member may use the occasion to educate the student about acceptable standards for academic work. In such cases, the faculty member could, for example, require the student to rewrite or correct the original assignment, or to submit a substitute assignment. A faculty member may not, however, fail or level other grading penalties against the student for the assignment or for the course, but must send the case to the dean when seeking these sanctions. Referring the case to the dean’s office ensures that the student receives due process for potential disciplinary action and allows the university to check for repeat offenses. In all cases, the faculty member is encouraged to consult with the AIC Administrator, who can provide guidance on the Code and can help evaluate and locate evidence of a possible violation.

2. Administrative Jurisdiction
In all other circumstances, when the faculty member believes that a case may be due to purposeful dishonesty, the following procedures will be observed:

a. Faculty members reporting an allegation of dishonesty to the AIC Administrator should do so normally within 10 business days from the date of discovery of the alleged dishonesty, supported by appropriate documentation.

b. At their discretion, faculty members may discuss the alleged misconduct with the student before the case is adjudicated. Faculty members, however, may not submit grades for the work in question or for the course until the case has been adjudicated. If the semester grades must be submitted before the adjudication process is complete, the faculty member should consult with the AIC Administrator about the proper grade notation.

c. After consulting with the faculty member, the AIC Administrator will promptly notify the student of the charge in writing and will arrange to discuss the charge with the student at a preliminary meeting. The AIC Administrator also will report the complaint to the chair of the department in which the alleged violation occurred. If the student is a member of another teaching unit, the AIC Administrator also will report the complaint to the student’s dean.

d. At the preliminary meeting, the student will be presented with the charge and the evidence, advised of the Code procedures, apprised of sanction options, and given the opportunity to respond. Either at the meeting or within five (5) business days, the student must submit a written statement that (i) accepts or denies responsibility for the charge, (ii) explains what occurred and why, and (iii) elects to resolve the case through a decision by the AIC Administrator or through a Panel hearing. The student’s signed statement will become additional evidence in the case. If the student fails to attend this preliminary meeting, the AIC Administrator may proceed with the process as appropriate.

e. By electing a decision by the AIC Administrator, students waive the right to a hearing before the Panel. The AIC Administrator will arrange a meeting as soon as possible. If both the student and the AIC Administrator agree, a preliminary meeting may proceed directly into the next phase of adjudication. If the issue cannot be resolved in one meeting, the AIC Administrator may request additional meetings with the student.

f. The AIC Administrator may refer the case to a panel for decision, even if the student has elected decision by the AIC Administrator.

3. Decision by AIC Administrator

a. If the AIC Administrator adjudicates the case, the AIC Administrator will impartially gather evidence from the student, the complainant, and other appropriate parties and sources.

b. The AIC Administrator will review the evidence and findings with the student. The student will have an opportunity to respond to the evidence and may call witnesses. If the student fails to attend any part of this phase of the case, the AIC Administrator may proceed as appropriate.

c. At the conclusion of the process, the AIC Administrator will submit a written recommendation with supporting rationale for the findings and sanctions to the dean of the major teaching unit in which the alleged offense occurred.

d. The dean may affirm or modify the AIC Administrator’s recommendation or remand the case with instructions for further action. The dean’s decision is final and may not be appealed unless the sanctions include a permanent notation to the student’s academic record (III.C.2.b-d).

4. Academic Code Review Panel

The following procedures will be observed by the Academic Code Review Panel:

a. Upon determining that a case should proceed to a Panel, the AIC Administrator will convene a Panel, convey the charge and the evidence, give guidance about the hearing process, and serve as a resource during the panel proceedings. The AIC Administrator may remain present during the Panel’s closed sessions. A faculty member will chair the Panel proceedings.

b. All Panel hearings will be closed to the public.

c. All Panel decisions related to the hearing process are by majority vote.

d. In cases in which a Panel member has a conflict of interest, the member will be excused from participation and replaced by a new member.

e. The student charged will have the opportunity to answer the charges.

f. The faculty member making the charge should be given the opportunity to be present or available to support the charge.

g. Witnesses may be called by the parties or by the Panel. The Panel may limit the number of witnesses for such reasons as redundancy or irrelevancy. Witnesses will be excluded from the hearing until testimony is to be presented. All parties present may question the witnesses.

h. During the proceeding and prior to the Panel’s closed session, any relevant party may submit evidence or suggest an appropriate sanction.

i. At the end of the hearing, the Panel will meet in closed session and decide whether the student is responsible for the Code violation.

j. If the student is found responsible, the Panel will proceed to the sanction phase, at which point the AIC Administrator will disclose the student’s prior record of academic violations, if any.

k. The Panel will submit a written recommendation with supporting rationale for its findings and sanctions to the dean of the major teaching unit in which the alleged offense occurred.

l. The dean may affirm, modify, or reject the Panel’s recommendation. The dean’s decision is final and may not be appealed unless the sanctions include a permanent notation of the AIC violation to the student’s academic record (III.c.2.b-d).


What are the consequences of violating the code? 

Section III.C: Sanctions

1. Violations of the Academic Integrity Code will be treated seriously, with special attention to repeat offenders. In assigning a sanction, the dean will take into account the seriousness of the offense, the particular circumstances of the case, and the student’s class year (freshman, sophomore, graduate, and so on). Cases involving repeat offenders or especially serious offenses will result in suspension or dismissal in combination with other sanctions.

2. Sanctions for an AIC violation may include one or more of the following:

a. A failing grade of F or ZF for the course in which the offense occurred.

b. A failing grade of F or ZF for the course in which the offense occurred. A notation of the Code violation will be entered on the student’s permanent record. 

c. Suspension for one or more academic terms, including the term in which the offense occurred. A notation of the Code violation will be entered on the student's permanent record.

d. Dismissal (for a specified term or permanently) from the university. A notation of the Code violation will be entered on the student's permanent record.

e. Other sanctions as appropriate, including, for example, remedial work, a lower course grade, and so on.

3. Before implementing sanctions, the dean may consult with the faculty member, the student’s dean, and other relevant university officials or parties. For sanctions applied to a student enrolled in another major teaching unit, the dean handling the case will seek concurrence of the student’s dean before implementing sanctions. Concurrence need not be sought if the student is a double major.


4. For suspensions and dismissals, the appropriate academic action will be taken by the dean of the major teaching unit to which the student belongs.

5. Withdrawal is not permitted either from a course in which a suspected AIC infraction has been discovered or from the university in such instances. No refund or cancellation of tuition or fees will be permitted in such cases.

6. Students receiving a failing grade for a course due to a Code violation will not be eligible to receive Freshman Forgiveness for that course.


Who has access to information on my academic record? 

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA)

Section III.D: Notifications and Appeals

1. The dean or the AIC Administrator will notify the student in writing of the findings and sanction, if any. The results of the case will be shared with other university officials determined to have a legitimate need to know in accordance with the Confidentiality of Student Records policy.


How can I avoid violating the Code? 

From Linda Stern’s “What Every Student Should Know About Avoiding Plagiarism” - 

“As a student, you may resolve never to intentionally be involved in plagiarism. That’s a good intention, but it doesn’t go far enough. You have to consider the possibility that you might unintentionally plagiarize someone else’s work…. Unintentional plagiarism is still plagiarism” (3). 


TIPS: Avoiding Academic Integrity Code violations

Cite any information or idea that belongs to someone else

Familiarize yourself with the citation style required by a professor or field of study

Read and understand the Academic Integrity Code

Manage your time on your writing projects

Ask for professors' permission if you want to use work you've done in another class or for another purpose

Familiarize yourself with course policies on exams, quizzes, cellphone use, and collaborating with other students on projects

Stay organized as you research and take notes

Learn about responsible paraphrasing, quoting, and summary

Ask questions of your professors

Use your resources!


What on-campus resources can help me?

Take advantage of skills workshops and advice from the Academic Support and Access Center

Use the University’s Writing Center 

Use the American University library’s resources on citation

Take the library’s information literacy tutorial about using research in your work

Meet regularly with your academic advisor in the College of Arts and Sciences

Meet with CAS peer advisors

Take advantage of support offered at the Student Advocacy Center


What is SafeAssign? 

SafeAssign, on its website, defines itself as “a tool used to prevent plagiarism and to create opportunities to help students identify how to properly attribute sources rather than paraphrase. SafeAssign is effective as both a deterrent and an educational tool.”

American University uses SafeAssign through Blackboard, submitting “originality reports” based on the content of the text. SafeAssign allows you to submit work to be scanned and compared with web-accessible documents. Reports show suspected plagiarism. 


How do I submit work through SafeAssign if requested by a professor? 

Blackboard tutorial on submitting a SafeAssignment through SafeAssign 


Additional resources for learning more

Avoiding Violations and Advice for Responsible Note-taking, from the University of Texas, Austin’s library system

Examples of proper and improper citation, FAQs, best practices for avoiding violations, examples of patchwriting, effective paraphrase and summary, and a discussion of “common knowledge,” from Accredited Schools Online

Examples of academic integrity casesand violations, from Indiana University

Hypothetical situations, from Lehigh University

Purdue OWL - Research and citation resources

Paraphrasing, summaries, and quoting resources, from the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)


Practice: learn more about skills for recognizing and avoiding academic integrity violations

Academic Integrity Tutorial, from University of Maryland, University College

Plagiarism quizzes and exercises, from Penn State University

Plagiarism tutorial, from University of Texas, Austin

Quizzes and exercises, from Bedford St. Martin

To use this site, 


1. Research Exercises

2. Click on the cancel button to go foward without an account, or set-up a student account.

3. Click on either APA, MLA, or the Chicago option (choose one).

4. Then look for and click on the "Avoiding Plagiarism in" option.


Plagiarism quiz, from Fairfield University

Academic Integrity as “Road Etiquette” exercises from UCLA (Exercise 1, Exercise 2, Exercise 3)