Academic Integrity

Extended Definitions & Advice

Abilene Christian University exists to educate students for Christian service and leadership throughout the world. As a Christian academic community, we are each responsible to hold each other accountable for behaviors consistent with the nature of God, to respect the community and to respect ourselves.

Abilene Christian University exists to educate students for Christian service and leadership throughout the world. As a Christian academic community, we are each responsible to hold each other accountable for behaviors consistent with the nature of God, to respect the community and to respect ourselves.

Main Content

Academic Honesty

The faculty and students of Abilene Christian University seek to honor each other as well as ourselves because we are created in the image of God. Thus, we want to work together to use others’ work, ideas, and words — as well as our own work, ideas, and words — ethically and honestly.

Students who attend Abilene Christian University should expect to participate in community with each other and with faculty practicing integrity and honor. They should also seek to learn why academic honesty is important to practice. Understanding reasons for ethical communication practices not only equips them to create effective messages in academic coursework, but it also is a feature of Christian leadership, as they prepare to communicate and serve as godly resources in their work environments.

Students are expected to be thoughtful in their use of all campus resources, particularly library resources. Ethical behavior on campus would include not defacing any materials, including books and digital recording equipment; returning materials in a timely manner; and paying fines if resources are kept beyond the due date.

Practicing academic integrity as it relates to plagiarism, multiple submissions and honoring another’s communication is addressed below. Other demonstrations of academic integrity includes, but are not limited to, a student:

1. following academic policies in the syllabus and engaging in honorable behavior, thus avoiding:

  • passing information from an earlier class to a later class.
  • signing a roll sheet for someone who is not in attendance.
  • failing to complete and submit work and suggesting that the faculty member lost the assignment.

2. submitting one’s own work, whether in a research paper, test, or any other kind of assignment resulting in a written, oral, visual, or auditory product.

3. representing others’ work accurately when used in one’s own work and giving appropriate credit for the use of others’ written, spoken and visual work when used in one’s own work.

4. asking permission to reuse one’s own work in a different academic setting from the one in which it was created.

5. asking permission to use other’s (faculty’s or student’s) discourse, and if permission is granted, repurposing that communication respectfully and appropriately when making it public beyond the classroom in which the discourse was generated.

6. responding to others’ ideas and opinions respectfully, whether or not one agrees with them.

7. doing his or her portion of a required group project or activity.

8. refusing to participate in cheating, including but not limited to,

  • changing a graded paper and requesting that it be graded again.
  • concealing notes on one’s person, in one’s clothing, and on/in one’s property.
  • placing notes for other students in the classroom or at the testing site.
  • coughing and/or using visual or auditory signals in a test.
  • marking two adjacent answers and claiming to have had the correct answer
  • switching exams so that neighbors have identical test forms.
  • marking your test or answer sheet so that another may see your answer.
  • having a substitute take a test or complete an assignment and providing falsified identification for the substitute.
  • consulting assignment solutions posted on websites of previous course offerings.
  • fabricating data for lab assignments.
  • submitting a paper or computer program written by another person.
  • writing in blue books prior to an examination.
  • stealing an exam for someone in another section or for placement in a test file.
  • stealing another student’s graded test and affixing one’s own name on it.
  • acquiring answers for any assigned work or examination from any source not authorized by the instructor for the specific assignment, such as opening the book on a closed book test or using notes on a test when not authorized.
  • observing the work of other students during any examination or other assignments where inappropriate.
  • gaining access to the content of any examination prior to its being given.
  • receiving, giving, or using unauthorized aid on an examination.
  • informing any person(s) of the contents of any examination prior to its being given.
  • providing answers for any examination or assigned work when not specifically authorized to do so by the instructor(s).
  • offering to sell or buy unauthorized aids or information for an assignment or examination.
  • presenting falsified materials and facts, orally or in writing, including but not limited to the results of interviews, laboratory experiments, and field-based research.
  • presenting  falsified results of research or laboratory experiments, orally or in writing, without the research or experiment having been performed.
  • collusion with (an)other person(s) on an assignment for which the instructor has specified independent work.
  • using the work of (an)other person(s) in place of independent work.

9. refusing to participate in the misuse of technology, including but not limited to:

  • falsifying time and date of submission of an electronic document or other assignment.
  • taking another student’s computer assignment printout from a computer lab.
  • transferring a computer file from one person’s account to another.
  • transmitting posted answers for an exam to a student in a testing area
  • using an electronic device to store test information or to send or receive answers for a test.
  • destroying or removing university property to gain an academic advantage, such as library or lab materials.
  • falsifying a crisis to avoid an academic deadline.

10. refusing to be generally dishonest, including but not limited to:

  • misrepresenting and/or falsifying death, illness or other trauma of oneself or another person as an excuse for missing a deadline, exam or required event.
  • claiming credit for an attendance or service activity without attending or performing the activity.
  • altering, misrepresenting, or falsifying a transcript, course record or graded work to gain unearned academic credit.
  • agreeing to change or have changed academic records, including arranging for a grade or credit not earned.
  • offering or accepting a bribe related to academic work or records.

Failure to demonstrate academic integrity may affect students individually and collectively by impeding the atmosphere ACU seeks to maintain. Specifically, academic dishonesty may have, but not be limited to, the following consequences:

1. losing points on an assignment.

2. failing an assignment.

3. failing a course.

4. having a record of improper conduct in the dean’s office which oversees the course in which the infraction was made and in the office of the Dean of Students.

5. being placed on behavioral probation or suspension.

Should the student be permitted to remain in the class after being found in violation of the academic integrity policy, the instructor may also require the student to retake the exam or an alternate exam, resubmit the coursework, or complete an alternate assignment. Any such makeup work may be graded independently or averaged with the penalized grade for the original dishonest work. Failure to comply with such requirements constitutes a second violation.

For a summary of the above information, reference the infographic at the button below.

Summary of Reporting Process

Acting With Integrity

Technological advances that make downloading and modifying others’ work easy may tempt some students to reframe another’s work as the student author’s own—an act of academic dishonesty or plagiarism. Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Failing to give appropriate credit to sources used in a work in an attempt to present the work as one’s own.
  • Submitting for credit in whole or in part the work of others.
  • Submitting a paper(s) or project(s) obtained from any source, such as a research service or a club paper file, as one’s own.
  • Giving someone a paper to use as her or his own when that individual did not write the paper.

Other acts that would be regarded as plagiarism — dishonest use of text — would include, but not be limited to the following:

  • Falsifying information or misrepresenting data.
  • Accepting credit or a grade for a group-generated text that you did not adequately participate in creating.

Various factors have a part in students’ misunderstanding of appropriate documentation.

  • For some, an emphasis on writing for standardized testing has meant that much of their education prior to coming to ACU has been focused on writing without using sources; thus, as they write in college level classes, they may require additional teaching to address incomplete or incorrect documentation.
  • For some, technological advances make the location and use of others’ words and ideas so easy to access that the student may work too quickly and thus have incomplete documentation.
  • Finally, researched writing is affected by the impact of “remix” on music and visual art forms.  The act of re-mixing is one of adding a new element to the original element, often with the resulting product being considered, in popular culture, as a new creation. However, in an academic context, simply adding a new element to an existing “text” does not result in a new, original creation. Specifically, in writing, this kind of “remix” strategy often results in incomplete and incorrect paraphrase in which a student changes only a few words in a longer borrowed piece of text.

Additionally, students should not ask or permit formal or informal tutors or editors to provide more than tutoring or limited editing. For example, students should not ask another to complete or rewrite work assigned by the instructor for the individual student to complete or write. However, students may certainly seek appropriate levels of help within and outside the university.

Because many students fear or have anxiety about writing researched assignments, professors may want to clarify what is not plagiarism as students consider their options for seeking help, and as they write researched assignments. Students are encouraged to seek help early in the research and writing process, both from the professor and from The Writing Center.

Collaboration on writing projects entails cooperation between students to generate and polish an extended report that may or may not require research. In this writing circumstance, students are expected to participate equally in the writing process so that all deserve the final project grade. A student who accepts a grade or accepts credit for a completed group project without adequately participating in the group is guilty of academic misconduct and may receive a penalty awarded for plagiarism for submitting a paper as her or his own without participating in the authorship. The student may also be removed from the group by the professor which may lower the student’s course grade.

Students who are struggling to participate successfully on this kind of project should seek help from the professor.

Writing in online classes, regardless of whether it is in a discussion board, an individually generated assignment, or a major assignment, should adhere to the principles of academic honesty. Students should expect to document any sources they use whether they are generated or presented by the instructor or from another source.

Academic misconduct may result in a zero on the assignment. In addition, the student may have additional consequences that could include, but not be limited to, receiving an F in the course. Finally, dean of the college in which the course was taught and the Dean of Students will be notified. Information on the process can be found below.

Electronic plagiarism-checking programs such as Turnitin are tools that provide faculty and students a faster way to identify problems by checking originality of the submitted text. Plagiarism-checking software offers students an opportunity to check the accuracy of paraphrases. Upon finding identified passages, students can seek help from the professor or The Writing Center to more accurately paraphrase and cite the source.

On occasion, a student may make mistakes in documentation and using others’ texts and ideas appropriately. In such cases, the professor may deem the appropriate course of action to be that of teaching rather than punishing.

The following may serve as examples of a student not fully understanding the principles of documentation.

  • The student’s text contains a reference to an author or a source that precedes paraphrased material. Such references might mention “a study,” “research,” “a source,” or “statistics.” It might include the complete or partial title of a resource or an author’s name. However, the documentation is incomplete or incorrect because the paraphrase is poorly written, and/or a parenthetical citation is omitted. The text would include some attempt at a bibliography and/or in-text citation.
  • The student’s text contains one or more in-text parenthetical citations referencing a title and/or author. However, this documentation is incomplete, as the student author does not indicate where the paraphrase begins, and/or the paraphrase is written poorly. The text contains other examples of documentation such as quotations placed in quotation marks and/or a bibliography.
  • The student’s text contains in-text references to a source to indicate when the paraphrase begins, as well as including parenthetical citations at the ends of some sentences. However, the documentation is incorrect because the student only changes a few minor words, resulting in an incomplete paraphrase. (This poorly executed paraphrase is what is most often described as “unintentional plagiarism.” While the student’s paraphrase is too close to the original text not to be penalized, the student clearly indicates an understanding of the need to document.) The text contains other examples of documentation such as quotations placed in quotation marks and/or a bibliography.
  • The student’s text contains words or sentences placed in quotation marks that are not properly incorporated into the student’s text and may lack an in-text parenthetical citation. However, the text contains some attempt at a bibliography.
  • The student’s text contains a “works cited,” “bibliography,” or “references” page listing sources. However, the text itself lacks correct in-text indication of paraphrased or quoted material, and the tone and style of the writing shifts in different sections of the paper to indicate that the student quoted without quotation marks or included a poorly written paraphrase.

In these examples, the student has clearly made some effort to cite sources used in the paper.

The consequences of some errors in citations, paraphrasing, and documentation can be a poor grade, perhaps a failing grade on the assignment. Should time permit, the professor may allow the student to revise the incorrect passages for additional points added to the assignment. The student will be notified of the grade penalty. The student can expect the professor to suggest resources for help, including help from The Writing Center.

Additionally, a student who receives guidance for “incorrect documentation” should understand that the professor will send notification of the incident and the actions taken to the dean of the college in which the course is taken as well as the Dean of Students.

A student who commits a second overt violation of inadequate documentation after having submitted a text that a professor treated as an instance of “incorrect documentation” will likely receive the consequences of plagiarism. In such a case, the second violation may even be regarded as a second violation of plagiarism.

Not all erroneous attempts at documentation merit being treated as “incorrect documentation.” Examples of documentation mistakes that would be regarded as plagiarism might include, but not be limited to:

  • A paper in which information is copied and pasted without any attempt within the text to document the information using quotation marks or references to research. The text may have a weak bibliography, such as pasted-in URLs.
  • A paper in which information is pasted in from secondary sources with an occasional reference to “research” but without adequate in-text citations or bibliographic material (or very weak bibliographic material).
  • A paper in which the student may appear to be using citations but is actually using a secondary source’s text and citations (in text and references). A student could do this using material from one author or several authors. In this case, the paper appears to have been fully researched and written by the student author who has actually only written a few sentences to frame or connect material from other authors.

In these examples, students should understand that they will more likely be regarded as having been academically negligent or dishonest rather than committing error from lack of knowledge, and they would receive the penalty for plagiarism rather than the consequences for incorrect documentation.

Multiple Submissions

Just as faculty and students seek to honor others in our work by appropriately citing them and thoughtfully representing their words and ideas within our work, we also honor the spirit of God when we appropriately develop our own scholarship.

The practice of resubmission is referred to in scholarly circles as “duplicity,” “self-plagiarism,” “dovetailing,” “resubmission” or “multiple submissions.” In the natural sciences, the practice is referred to as “salami slicing;” in publishing, “shotgunning” or “double-dipping.” These terms describe the submission of one’s own work from previous research experience or a previous course to a current research experience or current course for credit. Additionally, the submission may be that of a project produced by a student in an academic context that is not course-related (e.g., the Undergraduate Research Festival) and submitted, either simultaneously or asynchronously for a course or another research context.

Although the term “duplicity,” sometimes used in lieu of “self-plagiarism,” is frequently seen in literature on plagiarism, because of the negative implications it communicates regarding student intent, we choose the term “multiple submission” to more accurately describe the practice of reusing a single project in two or more academic settings.

For convenience, all contexts in which a student may produce a project and to which a student may wish to submit a project are referred to below as a “course.”

While the practice of using multiple submissions for faculty involves issues of copyright in the re-issue of our published materials, the issues for students are different. Because the student is the owner of her or his text, student’s reuse of that text cannot accurately be described as a form of plagiarism. The ownership and licensing of student work is explained in the Intellectual Property Policy.

At ACU, we believe that reuse can, if executed properly, lead students to an enriched, developed project that mirrors what many of us do as we research more deeply into a single area of our disciplines. While we support the practice of multiple submissions, we recommend the following procedures be followed when a faculty member chooses to allow reuse.

If the student wishes to submit a paper or project from a previous course to a course being taken in the current semester, or if a student who has been unsuccessful in a face-to-face or online course wishes to resubmit a major assignment when re-taking the course, the student should:

  • Seek permission of the current instructor.
  • Expect to enrich and expand the project to address the course prompt/assignment.
  • Expect to provide a copy of the original work with the new project.
  • Expect to cite the original work in the new work in a substantive note, a textual reference or a bibliographic entry per the instructor’s preference.

It is possible that a student wishes to use the same project for two courses being taken simultaneously. In this case, the student should

  • Seek permission from both instructors by submitting written justification explaining the benefit of using the same project or body of research for two assignments.
  • Expect to modify each submission to meet the parameters of each course’s assignment upon receiving permission.

With permission, the student’s decision to submit her or his own work is not plagiarism. Even so, this decision still has consequences. For example, the student may be asked to write a reflection paper on the impact of the development of this research experience on his or her scholarship.

The repeated submission will flag as plagiarized in Turnitin. A student should be prepared to provide the teacher with the original report from Turnitin if requested.

It is not unusual for a graduate student to incorporate one of her or his papers or section of a paper from a course into her or his graduate research project or thesis. Some graduate courses may specifically assign students to research and write about topics that they know will contribute to larger projects or theses. In some cases, a student may be inspired by research in a course and wish to expand that work into a larger research project or thesis. The impetus might even come from previous work in another program or another school. In these cases, the student should work closely with the director of the project or thesis to discuss whether or how the earlier work should be revised to meet the parameters of the current project and whether it would be appropriate to acknowledge in a note that a study or section thereof originated in an earlier paper written for a specific course.

When a student does not contact the professor, yet chooses to re-submit work, a likely consequence is that the student’s paper will not adequately meet the requirements of the assignment prompt. Thus, the paper will not earn the grade that the student likely expects. Additionally, if the professor has a specific policy stated in the syllabus about a procedure for multiple submissions, the professor may also reserve the right to penalize the paper.

If the professor’s syllabus has a “no multiple submissions” policy, the professor reserves the right to treat the incident like a plagiarism incident and address the student’s behavior accordingly.

Honoring Others’ Communication

The spoken word should be handled as carefully and thoughtfully as the written word. Thus, to avoid inappropriate use of another’s speech, students should be mindful of these guidelines for the spoken text in an academic setting.

Faculty and students should consider the academic environment as a place where we ask questions, test ideas, and explore sensitive topics. Sometimes in a debate, a student or professor may take an unusual or extreme position in order to test a hypothesis. Neither faculty nor students should assume that any statement made in the course of a conversation is that person’s only and final thought on a topic. If a student is troubled by a position that someone takes in class, the student should approach that person and discuss her or his concerns.

The classroom, whether face-to-face or online, is a private context in which to consider and discuss ideas and issues. As a member of any class, students must respect the privacy of all other members of the class by not sharing any recording of class conversation without the express, written consent of all people who are seen or heard in the recording.

Students are not permitted to record or videotape a class or student comments in a class — whether delivered orally or in writing — by any means without prior, express authorization from the course instructor. Some reasons the instructor may permit a student to record or videotape a class session include but are not limited to:

  • for the personal use of the student,
  • for the benefit of another student who is unavoidably absent, and
  • as part of an accommodation for a student with a disability.

Permission given by an instructor to record or videotape a class is limited to permission to record for personal use only. It is never permissible to copy, file-share, sell, Web-serve, or otherwise distribute such recordings without the express, written consent of all participants in the recording/taping.

Visual and auditory texts (presentations, class discussions, podcasts, videos, artistic works, etc.) are to be accorded the same treatment that a written text would receive. Students should expect to create their own work. If another’s work is used in some way, it should be accurately cited.

Students should not expect to photograph, videotape, or otherwise replicate another student’s visual or auditory work without express permission of the author and the professor.

Students should expect to participate in learning and in the generation of work through collaboration as requested by their professors. Students should participate in an equal division of labor to receive the group grade and follow guidelines and expectations as if the project were individually generated.