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.
Academic dishonesty, or failure to practice academic integrity, negatively affects the learning environment and other members of the ACU community.
Academic dishonesty includes -- but is not limited to -- plagiarism, collusion, cheating, fabrication, facilitating academic dishonesty, failure to contribute to a collaborative project, and sabotage.
Academic dishonesty detracts from a student’s personal learning, which will affect her or his academic grade, standing in a course or program, and/or standing in the university.
Academic dishonesty also has a chilling effect on the ACU community creating an air of suspicion in the learning environment.
An Explanation of Academic Integrity
The following information is presented as further explanation of the Academic Integrity statement above and includes definitions, advice and procedures related to academic integrity. It should not be considered an exhaustive listing of infractions, consequences or advice.
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 academe, 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:
Consequences of academic dishonesty
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:
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.
Technological advances making the downloading and slight modification of 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:
Other acts that would be regarded as plagiarism--dishonest use of text--would include, but not be limited to the following:
Various factors have a part in students having a 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 academe, 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.
Collaborative Writing and Plagiarism
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 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.
If students are struggling to participate successfully on this kind of project, they should seek help from the professor.
Online Classes and Plagiarism
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.
Consequences for Plagiarism
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.
Incorrect Documentation: A Teachable Moment
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.
In these examples, the student has clearly made some effort to cite sources used in the paper.
However, 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:
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.
Consequences for Incorrect Documentation
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 apprised on 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.
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 re-using 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 re-use 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 re-use 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 re-use.
Multiple Submissions in a Non-simultaneous Context
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
Multiple Submissions in a Simultaneous Context
It is possible that a student wishes to use the same project for two courses being taken simultaneously. In this case, the student should
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.
Multiple Submissions and Turnitin
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.
Multiple Submissions and Thesis or Dissertation
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 graduate 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.
Consequences for not following the multiple submissions procedures
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.
Oral Texts and Classroom Discourse
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:
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
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.
All alleged violations of academic integrity trigger a three-phase university response. The first phase—the investigation phase—involves determining whether an academic integrity violation occurred. The second phase—deliberation and notification of consequences—outlines the determination of the consequences and processes for notifying the student(s) involved. The third phase – reporting an academic integrity violation – outlines how the department will report the violation to Student Life, the examination of the student’s record for evidence of previous violations of integrity and/or student conduct, and, if necessary, assessing consequences for any recurring problems.
The Dean of each college, the Dean of Students and the Vice President for Student Life may designate a person within her or his office to represent the respective office in the process.
Investigation of an Academic Integrity Violation
If faculty, staff or a student suspects a violation of integrity related to a specific class, she or he should contact the faculty member teaching that class as soon as possible, and the faculty member will be responsible for following up on the matter.
With consultation from the department chair, the faculty member will ask at least two colleagues in the department to review the situation, in so far as is possible, without revealing the name(s) of the student(s) involved.
Deliberation and Notification of Consequences
If the colleagues give a mixed response, some believing that an integrity violation occurred and others believing it did not occur, the faculty member will, in the presence of the department chair or a second faculty member, visit with the student(s) involved to gather additional information. When the case involves an online course, this visit may be conducted electronically, preferably as a video conference call, although an audio conference call will be acceptable when video is unavailable. The faculty members must, in a timely manner, conclude that the student did or did not violate the academic integrity policy.
If the colleagues respond unanimously that an integrity violation did not occur, the faculty member should visit with the student about the behavior or other evidence that led to the perception of academic dishonesty in order to educate the student about conduct and practices that clearly establish one’s integrity rather than creating suspicion. The matter is closed.
If the colleagues respond unanimously that an integrity violation did occur, the faculty member will meet with the student in the presence of the department chair or a second faculty member. When the case involves an online course, such meeting may be by video (or if necessary, audio-only) conference call. If the student admits guilt or if the student denies guilt but the evidence indicates otherwise, then the faculty member will convey orally and in writing the consequence determined in accordance with university policy, departmental policy and/or the class syllabus. The faculty member is responsible for forwarding paperwork describing the incident and penalty to the department chair who will forward the paperwork to the Dean of the college. The Dean will then forward the paperwork to the Office of the Dean of Students as an informational record of discipline. If the student accepts the incident phase consequence, then the university response is concluded; otherwise an appeal is available.
Examples of consequences determined by the faculty member may include, but are not limited to, the following:
Reporting an Academic Integrity Violation to Student Life
The Dean of each college and/or designee should report academic integrity violations to the Dean of Students at the conclusion of the department’s process and after all appeals have been exhausted. It is important to note that while the department may consider the consequences to be final, faculty may not be aware of previous integrity violations in other departments.
The Role of Student Life in Responding to Academic Integrity Violations
In many cases, Student Life may have a more holistic picture of the student’s conduct and behavior throughout the campus. Incidents of academic integrity violations in other departments, chapel integrity violations, disrespectful behavior towards others, and providing misleading information to other university authorities are typically located in the discipline file and document a pattern of behavior not otherwise expected from an ACU student. Once a department has forwarded the academic integrity violation to Student Life, the Dean of Students and/or designee reserves the right to further investigate, deliberate, and sanction a student if it is determined the student has a documented pattern of misconduct.
Multiple Violations of Academic Integrity
Once the written findings are forwarded to the Dean of Students, he/she or designee will review the records of each student found in violation of the academic integrity policy and determine if previous integrity violations or related student conduct violations have occurred. As is the case with all university disciplinary responses, a student’s entire disciplinary record will be considered when making decisions regarding appropriate sanctions.
The Dean of Students or designee will determine an appropriate consequence. The Dean of Students may choose to consult with the Dean of the student’s college. The Dean of Students should convey the disciplinary action in writing, and may choose to meet with the student to convey orally as well.
Disciplinary actions sanctioned by Student Life may include, but are not limited to: a formal warning, conduct probation, suspension or dismissal. Refer to the Student Conduct section of the Student Handbook for a full description of each sanction.
Any sanction given to a student may be documented in the student’s discipline file in the Office of Student Life. It is recommended that each Dean of the college, department chair and/or faculty members maintain copies of the violations for their own records as well. Matters involving testing organizations or local, state, or national legal issues may be reported to the appropriate authorities.
According to the Student Handbook, “The Dean of Students retains responsibility for the maintenance, storage and release of student records related to disciplinary proceedings in keeping with FERPA. In most cases, student disciplinary records may be kept for a period of five years upon separation from the university, at which time minimal statistics may be retained and the full document may be destroyed.” For a full description of FERPA policy, refer to the University Catalog.
If the student is a student-athlete, the record should also be sent to the Associate Athletic Director for Academics at the point the student decides not to appeal OR after the college dean considers the appeal. The notification of the Associate Athletic Director should follow the same path and timeline of the notification of the Dean of Students. Athletics may have an internal process for the student-athlete that is separate and in addition to the process outlined in this document.
The Appeal Process
ACU gives each student the right to a single appeal to the next highest level. Under normal circumstances, imposition of disciplinary responses will be deferred pending the review of the appeal. If the student does not want to appeal the records are forwarded to the Dean of Students, or if the student is a student-athlete, to both the Dean of Students and the Associate Athletic Director.
A student may appeal the finding of guilt or faculty member’s consequence for a class-related incident to the Dean of the college by filing a written appeal within five business days of receiving the written disciplinary action from the faculty member. Appeals will not be accepted after this deadline.
Appeal forms are available on the Provost’s website. They will be filed along with the student’s response, including his or her statement of the facts, reasons for the appeal and such other statements and documents he or she believes are relevant to the appeal. Faculty and other appropriate university personnel will be notified of the appeal and will have five business days from notification to prepare statements to be included in the student’s record.
Within five business days after receiving the appeal, the Dean of the college will review the appeal notice and may decide to meet with the student to further discuss his or her grounds for appeal. The student may not have a representative present for the meeting with the Dean, however he or she may bring a companion who is neither a witness nor representative. Prior to this meeting and in order to reach a decision, the Dean of the college will, in consultation with the involved faculty member, review the appeal and support materials (for example, plagiarized sources, tests from which answers were copied, etc.).
The Dean of the college may also confer with the student in the process of coming to a final decision. The Dean of the college will consider the appeal and uphold, reverse or otherwise modify the previous decision. The decision of the Dean of the college may not be appealed. The Dean of the college will convey orally and/or in writing the final decision to the student and the faculty member involved. The Dean of the college is responsible for forwarding paperwork describing the result of the appeal to the Dean of Students.
Appealing a Student Life Decision
Should the Dean of Students impose an additional consequence as the result of academic integrity violations, the student has the right to appeal the decision to the Vice President for Student Life (VPSL). A written appeal within five business days of receiving the written disciplinary action from the Dean of Students or designee is required. Appeals will not be accepted after this deadline.
Within five business days after receiving the appeal, the VPSL will review the appeal notice and may decide to meet with the student (electronically, if a face-to-face meeting is impractical) to further discuss his or her grounds for appeal. The student may not have a representative present for the meeting with the VPSL, however he or she may bring a companion who is neither a witness nor representative. Prior to this meeting and in order to reach a decision, the VPSL will, in consultation with the involved faculty member and/or the Dean of Students, review the appeal, the student’s discipline file, and support materials (for example, plagiarized sources, tests from which answers were copied, etc.). The VPSL may also confer with the student in the process of coming to a final decision.
The VPSL will consider the appeal and uphold, reverse or otherwise modify the decision of the Dean of Students. The appeal decision of the VPSL may not be appealed. The VPSL will convey in writing the final decision to the student, the faculty member involved, and the Dean of Students.
While teaching at Abilene Christian University, faculty members should expect to
While enrolled at Abilene Christian University, the student should expect to
A department may choose to adopt specific departmental academic integrity response policies in consultation with the Dean of the college and in alignment with university policy.
The department chair should expect to:
A representative from the Office of Student Life should expect to: