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Frequently Asked Questions

The following Frequently Asked Questions will help you better understand the Academic Integrity Code.

Academic integrity essentially means “intellectual honesty”: honesty in the use of information, in formulating arguments, and in other activities related to the pursuit of knowledge and understanding. It is a core principle that underpins how we live and learn in a community of inquiry. American University’s Academic Integrity Code sets forth standards of academic conduct, defines academic violations, and outlines the adjudication process for academic offenses.

Academic dishonesty occurs when the standards of academic conduct have been violated. It includes but is not limited to plagiarism, inappropriate collaboration, dishonesty in examinations and papers, work done for one course and submitted to another, deliberate falsification of data, interference with other students' work, and copyright violations.

The code holds students responsible for knowing academic standards, conventions of documentation, course requirements, and institutional policies. By registering as a student at American University, all students acknowledge their awareness of the code. Sometimes what constitutes academic dishonesty is not readily clear. When this is so, seek out an authority to help, starting with your professor. But in all things, take responsibility for the honest use of your mind and the information with which it works.

Code violations affect not only the offender but the entire community, particularly if the violations are not adjudicated. Getting away with violating the code is unfair to the majority of hardworking and honest students. Such instances also damage the reputation of the institution and lessen the value of your degree. The ideal response is to confront the alleged violator directly and in private, but if this is not tenable, informing the instructor is appropriate. Consider what you would do if you witnessed a fellow student stealing from your roommate.

If you have knowingly violated the code you should admit to the act immediately. It is the right thing to do. If you believe you have not violated the code, you should cooperatively adhere to the adjudication process. Do not assume, unless for very good cause, that the instructor who has made the charge is acting inappropriately; faculty are obliged to confront suspected violations. Their vigilance protects all students and the institution.

Academic Integrity Code violations are treated very seriously. The misperceived short-term gain from these acts is not worth the long-term consequences of the penalty. Sanctions for code violations include loss of credit for the assignment, a failing grade for the course, a permanent notation on the transcript, and dismissal from the university. Second offenses will result in suspension or dismissal from the university.

If a faculty member believes that an alleged offense resulted from an honest mistake then he or she may decide to use the occasion for educating the student about acceptable academic standards. In all other instances, the charge will be forwarded to the dean's office for adjudication. The case may be handled by the dean's designee or a code review panel comprised of faculty and students, who will make a recommendation to the dean for a final decision.

A student charged with an alleged violation may bring an advisor to both the preliminary meeting and the code panel meeting. The advisor must be an American University student, staff, or faculty member. The advisor’s role is limited to consultation with the respondent. Advisors may not address the hearing body or adjudication officer, nor may they question witnesses. The adjudication process is not a legal proceeding and the code does not permit legal counsel at any point.

A dean’s decision can be appealed only in cases concerning notation to the permanent academic record. Appeals are made to the provost and limited to grounds of excessive sanction, improper procedure, and unavailability of relevant evidence at the time of the original adjudication review.

Notations to the permanent academic record cannot be removed and will be visible to any school or employer who receives a copy of your transcript. A standard notation reads “Failure in Course [title] for a Violation of the Academic Integrity Code.”