Academic Integrity Policy

"Academic integrity is essential to the most effective development of a person's intellectual skills and abilities. Academic dishonesty is not insignificant in its impact on student development. Violations of academic integrity involve the intention to deceive or mislead or misrepresent, and therefore are a form of lying [and stealing]. The most powerful motive for integrity and truthfulness comes from one's desire to imitate God's nature in our lives." (From ACU Academic Integrity Policy)

Three elements of contemporary journalism and mass communication pose unique integrity challenges for faculty, staff, students and practitioners: (a) the public nature of these functions in society, (b) the absolute necessity to build and maintain credibility and reliability, and (c) the dangers brought on by the ease with which digital data can be stolen, copied, multiplied, manipulated and used to mislead and deceive.

Breakdowns of all forms of academic integrity in JMC classrooms, labs and student media are condemned categorically by the faculty of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication: in group projects, research papers, exams, out-of-class assignments, in-class work, individual projects, lab work, material prepared for public distribution via departmental media, internships, résumés, and in JMC-sponsored organizations.

The First Amendment does not protect a student who breaks a law in pursuit of a story. The faculty will not protect a student who violates an ACU policy in pursuit of a story.

Based on JMC precedent and ACU policies, these penalties will be imposed for various types of academic and professional integrity violations in 200-600 courses and co-curricular situations. Second offenses in 100-level courses will be treated the same as 200-600 level violations. In 100-level classes, a first infraction of the sort listed below will result in an 'F' on the assignment and in the most egregious cases could result in an 'F' in the course after consultation with the faculty member, chair and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

'F' in course, suspension as a major and loss of JMC media job (with reinstatement opportunity):*

  • Submitting for academic credit any work you didn't create (e.g., purchased, downloaded, etc.)
  • Stealing anyone's work and submitting it as one's own
  • Plagiarizing a work for publication in JMC media
  • Creating and selling or giving a work to another student
  • Fabricating sources, quotes or whole story for a class or for a JMC medium
  • Using Web software when HTML work is specified by teacher
  • Misrepresenting oneself academically with intention to deceive by any other means or manner
  • Cheating via looking at work of other students, talking to other students during tests, digitally conversing with other students during tests, or working from concealed answers in any manner
  • Misrepresenting one's self intentionally in the reportorial act
    Reporting surreptitiously (with concealed recorders, cameras and microphones)


'F' in Course or 'F' on the Assignment
Cutting and pasting of significant material without attribution may result in an 'F' in the course or on the assignment. In this context the definition of "significant" is the responsibility of the faculty member.

'F' on assignment

  • Cutting and pasting sections of verbatim material without appropriate documentation:
    • quote marks around directly copied or quoted material
    • attribution in the text to reveal identity of the source
    • footnotes at the bottom of page or end of paper if footnoting required
  • Rewriting of material that stops short of good, conventional paraphrasing:
    • translation of material into one's own level of prose expertise
    • huge chunks of original phrasing, syntax and vocabulary outside of quotes
    • omission of attribution on the mistaken belief that paraphrases do not need attribution
  • Lifting images or sound with or without adaptation but without source recognition in production notes
  • Failing to do reasonable share of work on team projects
  • Falling short of academic and professional integrity standards in other ways


JMC Students, Faculty, and Staff Should Also Practice On-going Mentoring and Self-Policing to Avoid:

  • Violating ASCAP, BMI, CCLI, SESAC, AP and RIAA licensing agreements
  • Pirating software from hard drives or the Web, which can lead to loss of computer privileges
  • Violating the Fair Usage Doctrine for usage of copyrighted materials

*A request for reinstatement after one semester of suspension as a major may be initiated by the former major with a letter addressed to the chair of the Department of Journalism and Communication, a personal meeting with the chair, and a personal meeting with the chair and appropriate departmental faculty and staff. This letter should clearly outline the student's rationale for the reconsideration. The chair and the faculty and staff whose course or courses or student media were involved will serve as the committee to review reinstatement as a major. Conditions of readmission as a major will require re-enrollment in the course or courses in question and may include apology to the appropriate persons, required counseling, probation, research and writing of a paper addressing the problem that caused the suspension, and other stipulations that would help the student grow from the experience.

Modified and presented to the JMC Faculty for approval Jan. 14, 2003.