Purdue has adopted an Honor Pledge for all students:
As a Boilermaker pursuing academic excellence, I pledge to be honest and true in all that I do. Accountable together - we are Purdue.Students are expected to honor this pledge.
What is academic integrity?
Simply, it is a matter of being honest. It means you do your own work, without prohibited assistance or shortcuts, and you truthfully present the results. It means that if you do use the work of others, you credit it properly. It means that you do not unfairly damage or impede others in their own academic pursuits.
The opposite of academic integrity is cheating or academic dishonesty. This is defined as any action or practice that provides the potential for an unfair advantage to one individual or one group. Academic dishonesty includes misrepresenting facts, fabricating or doctoring data or results, cheating on assignments, representing another's work or knowledge as one's own, disrupting or destroying the work of others, or abetting anyone who engages in such practices.
The CS department has produced a video about academic integrity that you are encouraged to watch:
Why do we care? Why is it important?
At the heart of scientific pursuits is the quest for truth. We value the exposure of what is true, and we seek to discern the truth from what is false. Science proceeds from verification of results, from the proper credit for discovery, and from rejection of the false. Computer science, as a profession, demands that we seek the truth not only in our research, but in our dealings with the public, and with each other. We must constantly build and maintain the trust of a public that depends on our expertise and honesty to construct their computing infrastructure. Competence and trust are at the core of what it means to be a scholar (in general) and a computing professional (in particular).
More specifically, we value academic integrity because:
- It represents the right things to do. Above all else, this should matter most.
- It is the Purdue Way. See the official university statement on integrity.
- It is an official CS Department policy. (Follow the link and read the policy.)
- It is about being a professional in CS. See the codes of conduct for ACM, IEEE, and other professional associations. For instance, read the ACM Code of Ethics, especially sections 1.3, 1.5, 2.2, 2.3, and 2.8.
- If you misrepresent your results when you are in the workforce it can result in damage to systems, loss of property, and loss of life; being dishonest will almost always result in (at least) loss of your job.
- It is the way proper science and engineering are conducted. Presenting someone else's work as your own or falsifying results may result in critical systems failing, resources being wasted, and lives being affected in a bad way. Presenting yourself as knowledgable about something you aren't — including taking shortcuts to get your degree — can result in you being put in situations where you can unknowingly cause bad results.
- It helps to assure the value and reputation of your degree. If people cheat and take unauthorized shortcuts, they may not learn the material as well. This will be reflected later on — when employers hire those people, they will get a negative impression of the competence of Purdue CS graduates. That reflects on you too.
- It helps to assure the value of your grades. If people cheat and take unauthorized shortcuts, they may get grades that are higher than they deserve. This ruins any curve used in grading and may result in the instructor making follow-on assignments more difficult. The result may be that your grade may mean less or even be lower than someone who is not honest.
- It helps build good habits. Working hard and being truthful are not always easy, especially when you are stressed. Practicing those habits helps you be resolute when hard decisions need to be made. Your reputation will benefit from that.
- It is a matter of law. Plagiarism is usually a copyright violation, and that can be punished with substantial fines and loss of your job. Falsifying results sometimes can be punished as a felony case of fraud or breach of contract and can result in a criminal record and jail time.
How do you tell if something is a violation of academic integrity?
As one simple test, if what you are considering doing was to be announced in a gathering of everyone in your class, your family, and all your instructors, would you be embarrassed or penalized? If so, don't do it!
Students are encouraged to read Academic Integrity: A Guide for Students from the Purdue Dean of Students office for greater detail. Here are some of the examples of academic dishonesty listed in that guide:
- Using part or all of someone else's work, from this or any prior semester, in projects or homework without the instructor's prior approval — including working with others when not authorized to do so by the instructor;
- Misrepresenting the functionality of an artifact. For example, if a student submits a project with falsified output or test data to make it look as if a program works better than it does;
- Using notes or hints to answer questions during a test for which open notes or crib sheets are not explicitly allowed;
- Submitting answers on homework or projects that were developed or researched by any other individual and presented as the student's own work;
- Copying text from a book, paper, or Internet site to include in the student's own work without clearly marking it as a quote and citing the source. (This is plagiarism and may be a violation of Federal copyright law as well as cheating.);
- Setting permissions on files and directories in a student's account so that someone can easily copy programs and documents, or allowing any other person, in the class or otherwise, to use the student computer account (note that this is also a violation of ITaP policy);
- Accessing or altering any online directories, files, or grading information related to the class for which the student does not have explicit permission.
- Providing program code or problem solutions to another student in the class without the instructor's explicit, prior approval;
- Posting assignments or solutions online or emailing them to others without explicit instructor permission.
- Using solutions to assignments posted online or provided to you by others without explicit instructor permission.
- Having someone else take a test or do an assignment for another student while pretending to be that student. (Both parties are committing a dishonest act if this is done.)
- Having someone indicate you are present when attendance is taken, and you are not there. This includes giving that person your "clicker" in class to appear as if the student is present. (Both parties are committing a dishonest act.)
- Encouraging anyone to do any of the above, or failing to report anyone involved in any of these activities.
Note that those are examples and do not describe everything that may be cheating. See the more formal definition, above.
What if I'm having problems in class? What if I'm going to fail unless I use an "unauthorized shortcut"?
Your instructor will treat the students (you) as computing professionals, and the students should plan on conducting themselves in an appropriate manner. Each course presents many important concepts that may be needed throughout a career as a computing professional; it is important that each student do all the assignments and learn the material without improper outside assistance or shortcuts (cheating).
Instructors realize that there are occasions when students are overloaded, overstressed, or otherwise unable to do the work required for a class. If you feel too burdened to be able to complete any assignments in any class, you should talk to the instructor or to your advisors. We are here to help you learn and succeed, not to try to make you fail. In many cases, an extension can be granted, or extra help can be provided. Faculty are almost always willing to make allowances for real difficulties: that is one of the responsibilities of teaching. It is also a fact of life — we all encounter difficulties at some time or another. At the least, most instructors seem willing to grant partial credit — thus, your situation sometimes isn't as bad as it seems.
The key to succeeding and staying out of trouble is to talk to your instructors/advisor as soon as you think you are having a problem — don't wait until you are near a deadline or are really in deep trouble. Students who honestly try to do all the work almost never fail: instructors reserve failing grades for people who don't try, or who are dishonest.
That exposes a downside to attempts to be dishonest: If you are caught being dishonest (cheating, plagiarizing, falsifying results, helping others to be dishonest) the penalty is much worse than getting a bad grade. Sometimes it means a failing grade, but it may also result in being suspended or even expelled from the university. What's worse — explaining to your family and friends why you only got a "C" in a course, or explaining why you have been expelled?
By the way, your instructors have likely been teaching for a long time — sometimes for longer than you have been alive! They have a vast amount of experience in recognizing academic dishonesty. They also sometimes build hidden traps into assignments and exams to expose cheating. You think you can fool your instructors? Maybe, possibly once, if you are very lucky … but even that one time is a huge gamble to take with your future.
What if I know someone else is cheating?
First of all, it is not your job to play detective and investigate if you suspect something. Doing that can violate the privacy of others, as well as possibly violating university rules.
If you suspect someone you know well of dishonesty, you can try telling him or her to stop. However, some people will attempt to entangle you in their dishonesty, to spread the blame if they get caught, so usually it is better not to confront them. A sad way to find out someone is not the friend you thought is when they blame you for something you didn't do.
The best approach for anything you see or even suspect is to privately tell your instructor, an advisor, or another member of the faculty about it. Stop by during office hours, or send an email. Some of your instructors will publish their phone numbers, so you can call, too. You should not simply remain silent — remember, cheating by others hurts you, too.
If you wish to report incidents of academic dishonesty (or other student misbehavior) to someone other than (or in addition to) an instructor, you can do so via the forms at the Dean of Students page for reporting. You can report anonymously at that site. You can also report incidents directly at the office of the Dean of Students, by telephone at 765-494-8778, or by email to <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
What if I am accused of cheating and I didn't do anything?
First, don't get too upset, because you know it is an error. Sometimes instructors make a mistake. Schedule a meeting with your instructor to talk it over. Be honest, respectful, and present whatever information you think will help. Don't talk about it with other students until the issue is resolved — you don't know who else might be involved, and you don't want guilty parties using your information against you!
If discussion with the instructor doesn't clarify the matter, talk to your academic advisor or another member of the faculty for advice. You can also make an appointment with the head in the department that offers the course.
There is a formal process for appeal of final grades, but you must begin it no later than 30 days from the start of the following semester.
The best defense is to know the rules for your courses and be careful not to do anything that comes too close to violating them.
Checking for Unintended Copying
If your course uses the Blackboard online system, you may be granted access to the SafeAssign tool. If you are, you are encouraged to use this to check your own papers and assignments prior to submission to ensure that you have appropriately quoted and cited text from other sources. Note that this does not check all possible uses of other text — it is intended to be a convenience to the student. Students are still responsible for the content of anything they submit and are therefore responsible for any plagiarized material even if it passes SafeAssign!