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Academic Integrity

As a student at SUNY Cortland, you are expected to uphold the values of academic integrity at all times. Academic integrity can be defined, in one word, as honesty. The principle of academic integrity stretches beyond the limits of a classroom. Good students are honest with themselves, their professors, their roommates, and their community.

Academic Integrity FAQ


Here are a few resources to get you started.

What is Academic Integrity?

The basic principle of academic honesty in the classroom is always to submit your own work. Never cheat on an exam, misrepresent yourself, forge documents, or plagiarize papers. Outside of the classroom, treat your professors, peers, and other members of the academic community with respect, and never damage or devalue campus property.

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Does SUNY Cortland have a policy?

Yes. The policy, including disciplinary action, is outlined in Chapter 340 of official SUNY Cortland College Handbook. Here is the excerpt from the handbook.

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What are some examples of academic dishonesty?

Here are a few examples of academic dishonesty. This is not an exhaustive list. Its purpose is to give you an idea of actions that violate the code of academic integrity:

  • Cheating on an in-class or take-home exam, either by using crib sheets or collaborating with other students
  • Taking an exam for another student or having another student take an exam for you
  • Misusing campus resources, for example, damaging library materials by tearing out pages from a book, magazine, or journal.
  • Stealing books and resources from the library
  • Handing in a paper written wholly or partially by another student
  • Incorporating another person’s ideas in your work, either in the form of a direct quotation, paraphrase, or summary, without acknowledging the source of the material
  • Purchasing a paper from an online service or other source and submitting it, either partially or in its entirety, as your own.
  • Some other, less obvious, forms of academic dishonesty are:

  • Helping another student violate the code of academic integrity
  • Handing in the same paper for more than one course without the specific permission of both instructors
  • Having someone else write portions of your paper without acknowledging the other person’s help
  • Cutting and pasting electronic text into your paper and submitting it as your own work without acknowledging the source of the material. Examples of electronic text are material taken from Web pages, e-mail messages, chat room conversations, discussion lists, and so forth.
  • Creating false sources to avoid doing proper scholarly research.
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What is plagiarism?

Six Definitions of Plagiarism

  1. Plagiarizing is stealing. Rather than stealing material goods, a person guilty of plagiarism steals intellectual property, a thought, idea, or written segment belonging to somebody else. Some students misinterpret plagiarism as simply the act of copying so many words in a row without citing the author. You must think more broadly. Plagiarism is more than stealing a written line. You can also plagiarize by borrowing or expanding on someone else’s idea without citing the author.
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  3. Failing to attribute a concept or an idea to its originator is a form of plagiarism. Even if you are paraphrasing or rewriting an idea that you heard or read somewhere, you are still using someone else’s concepts. If you don’t attribute the idea to its originator, you are claiming it as your own. This is an act of plagiarism. Citing sources is very important when you are dealing with web-based texts, even though many web resources do not display the name of the author or authors. In this case, you are required to give other pertinent information regarding the web source, such as the title of the work and its web address. Further information on citing web sources can be found in your style manual.
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  5. Failing to put quotation marks around material that you are copying verbatim is a form of plagiarism. There is very little flexibility when it comes to quotations. Words that are copied verbatim from a source must be put in quotation marks and properly attributed.
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  7. Citing/Attributing sources incorrectly can be a form of plagiarism. The most important reason for citing sources is to inform your readers about where you obtained your information. Citations enable readers to access further information if they are particularly interested in your topic. If you cite incorrectly, you lead the readers astray, and as a result they will question your accuracy.
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  9. Turning in a paper that was written by another individual is plagiarism. This includes turning in a paper written by a former or current student, a paper posted on the web, or a paper purchased from any source, including online paper mills. Have you considered buying a term paper online? You may be tempted to think that is a foolproof way to avoid writing your own paper without getting caught. Think again. The same high-tech environment that allows you to purchase papers online allows university faculty to protect their classrooms from plagiarism. Professors have access to a vast array of software that enables them to enter as little as one line from a student’s research paper and determine if it was bought or copied from an online source. This detection software searches the very same databases the student searches when purchasing a paper.
  10. Turning in the same paper for multiple courses is considered academic dishonesty. If you have written a paper for one course and wish to turn it in for credit in another course, you must have the permission of both instructors. Many students do not realize that using the same paper for two or more courses is a violation of the conduct code. Students who attempt to avoid completing all the requirements of a given course by using work they have already completed are compromising their integrity.

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How can I avoid plagiarism?

Staying educated about the specifics of plagiarism is your best defense against it. Use the following tips and guidelines to protect yourself from illegally using sources.

  • Always refer to your style manual, for example, the MLA Handbook, the APA Publication Manual, or the Chicago Manual of Style. When you have finished writing your paper, go back and double check all your quotations and citations to ensure that you have incorporated them as indicated.
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  • If you are confused about whether or not to cite a source or about the proper way to do so, do not hesitate to ask for help. SUNY Cortland has established the Academic Support and Achievement Program (ASAP) to aid students who need such help. Tutors are available at (607) 753-4309. You can also contact your professor. Your professor would much rather assist you with your writing process than watch you make a mistake that could hurt your academic career.
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  • Take good notes while researching. You may find it helpful to paraphrase information in your notes while you read. Then, when you are writing your paper, use the paraphrased information to come up with the final text. You still must provide a citation for the idea; however, the wording will be all your own.
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How do I cite my sources?

The answer lies in the way you present your research in your text. If done correctly, the quotation, paraphrase, or summary will be woven seamlessly with your own writing. There are a number of ways to weave a quotation into your writing.

Modern Language Association (MLA) style

Suppose you are quoting M.L. Kennedy and H.M. Smith’s comments about paraphrasing in Reading and Writing in the Academic Community (Prentice Hall 2001). Here are a few options.

    Option A: “Whereas a summary contains only the most important information from the source, a paraphrase includes all the information. Writers paraphrase when they want to record the total meaning of a passage” (Kennedy and Smith 56).

    Option B: Kennedy and Smith write, “Whereas a summary contains only the most important information from the source, a paraphrase includes all the information. Writers paraphrase when they want to record the total meaning of a passage” (56).

    Option C: “Whereas a summary contains only the most important information from the source,” write Kennedy and Smith, “a paraphrase includes all the information. Writers paraphrase when they want to record the total meaning of a passage” (56).

    Option D: “Whereas a summary contains only the most important information from the source, a paraphrase includes all the information. Writers paraphrase when they want to record the total meaning of a passage,” observe Kennedy and Smith (56).

Option A allows you to insert the quotation without identifying the authors in the body of your text. Instead, you cite them in parenthetical documentation. In Options B, C, and D, you attribute the quotation to the authors by identifying them before the quotation (Option B), within the quotation (Option C), or after the quotation (Option D). Note that all four options require you to cite the page number in parentheses.

In some instances, it is appropriate to include in the body of your paper, the title of the source as well as the author and page number. Consider the following example:

    When students discuss various ways of presenting their research, there is often confusion when the words “paraphrasing” and “summarizing” come up. Many students think the words are synonymous; however, there is a definite distinction between the two. Kennedy and Smith discuss the difference in Reading and Writing in the Academic Community: “Whereas a summary contains only the most important information from the source, a paraphrase includes all the information. Writers paraphrase when they want to record the total meaning of a passage” (56).

The value of the quotation in the above text should be apparent. Without it, the discussion of the two terms is simply the opinion of the author. With the quotation, the author of the paper provides concrete research to drive her point home. It is now all but impossible to refute the point, unless one comes up with a quotation from another expert that disagrees with the one presented.

American Psychological Association (APA) style

The style of the American Psychological Association (APA) is slightly different from the style of the MLA in that the publication date follows the author’s name, and the abbreviation for page is "p."

    Option A: “Whereas a summary contains only the most important information from the source, a paraphrase includes all the information. Writers paraphrase when they want to record the total meaning of a passage” (Kennedy and Smith, 2001, p. 56).

    Option B: Kennedy and Smith write, “Whereas a summary contains only the most important information from the source, a paraphrase includes all the information. Writers paraphrase when they want to record the total meaning of a passage” (2001, p. 56).

    Option C: “Whereas a summary contains only the most important information from the source,” write Kennedy and Smith, “a paraphrase includes all the information. Writers paraphrase when they want to record the total meaning of a passage” (2001, p. 56).

    Option D: “Whereas a summary contains only the most important information from the source, a paraphrase includes all the information. Writers paraphrase when they want to record the total meaning of a passage,” observe Kennedy and Smith (2001, p. 56)

     

Paraphrase

The fear that your paper will become “one big quotation” will also be allayed by varying the way you present your information. Instead of simply using quotation after quotation in your paper, why not use a paraphrase? Although paraphrasing is more difficult than quoting, the source information will not appear to break up the paper so much since the writing style remains your own. Consider the following example:

 

    When students discuss various ways of presenting their research, there is often confusion when the words “paraphrasing” and “summarizing” come up. Many students seem to think the words are synonymous; however, there is a definite distinction between the two. According to Kennedy and Smith, the distinction is in the amount of information gleaned by the writer: when paraphrasing, the writer uses everything in the source, whereas when summarizing, she highlights only the important information (56).

Remember: when you paraphrase, you MUST indicate the author and page number and provide a complete entry for the source on the works cited or reference page.

Using quotations and paraphrases in your paper serves a much higher purpose than simply showing your professor what research you have done. It serves to back up your own writing, bolster your arguments, prove your point, or demonstrate that you “know your stuff.” Just be extremely careful that the person who provided you with the quoted or paraphrased material gets the proper credit.

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How do I document paper and electronic sources?


What's the bottom line?

Your professors expect you to be the sole author of your written work. Admittedly, there is a difference between deliberate cheating and careless mistakes in acknowledging the work of others; however, both forms are violations of the college’s policy regarding academic dishonesty. Failing to document sources, even by mistake, shows more than carelessness: it shows that the student is unprepared for college. Take a look at the following examples. Because of poor handling of sources or ignorance of the proper way to acknowledge the work of others, the student is guilty of plagiarism.

  • A student finds a resource that is especially compelling. She has difficulty explaining the content of the article in her own words, so she incorporates sections of the article verbatim into her paper and fails to use quotation marks and attribute the source.
  • A student does not copy the source verbatim. She rephrases a few words here and there but leaves unchanged most of the author’s words. She uses a citation but no quotation marks.
  • A student uses his own words to paraphrase or summarize an interesting thought or idea, but he fails to attribute the idea to its originator by using a citation.
  • A student purchases a paper or gains access to a paper written by someone else and attempts to pass off sections of the paper, or the paper as a whole, as his own work.

Common sense should tell you whether or not you are using someone else’s words or ideas illegally. Go with your gut feeling: if you feel you might be plagiarizing, err on the side of safety and cite your source.

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