Academic Integrity

Student writing at desk in front of wall displaying 'I am Miami' pledge

Academic integrity is crucial to your success as a student at Miami.  Here is the Department of Anthropology Policy on Academic Misconduct*

Revised February 11, 2004 

The Department of Anthropology is committed to supporting the intellectual growth and academic potential of students through the development of new skills, the capacity for self-assessment, and advice from instructors. This learning process is undermined when students submit work that is not their own. Students who do so deny themselves the opportunity to practice skills essential to success at university and beyond. 

Students who engage in academic dishonesty cannot receive accurate assessments of their skills and they may also prevent other students from receiving accurate assessments of their knowledge or abilities. As a form of theft or deceit, such conduct is unethical and violates the relationships of trust and respect among students, their peers, and their instructor. Students who gain a grade dishonestly are only pretending to become educated, and defraud themselves and others (Whitley & Keith-Spiegel, 2002).

Academic misconduct, as defined by the Miami University Student Handbook, covers a wide variety of activities, including copying or allowing others to copy one’s exams or assignments, turning in an assignment that the student has not written, and submitting the same material for more than one class. Instances of academic misconduct will be dealt with in accordance with the procedures outlined in the Student Handbook. You may view a Summary on Academic Integrity

One form of academic dishonesty is plagiarism, which is presenting the work, words or ideas of another person as though they were one’s own, without giving the originator credit. For example, it is plagiarism to paraphrase material from another source without proper citation. Consider the following statement from Barbara Myerhoff’s 1980 ethnography Number Our Days:

“Thus, in addition to being an intrinsic good, learning was a strategy for worldly gain.”

It is plagiarism for the student to write the following in a paper:

“Learning was not only inherently good, but a way to acquire worldly things.”

Although a few words have been changed, the sentence is basically the same, and Myerhoff is not given credit. An acceptable sentence in a student paper would be,

“Myerhoff (1980:92) notes that although learning was valued for its own sake, it was also “a strategy for worldly gain.”

Here, Myerhoff is given credit for the idea, and her exact words are placed in quotation marks. The same rules apply to material from websites, and student work may be subject to online plagiarism searches.

Why do students cheat?

  • Students sometimes cheat because they procrastinate on studying for a test or writing a paper. The Bernard B. Rinella, Jr. Learning Assistance Center in 306 Shriver Center gives students help with time management and study skills.
  • Students sometimes plagiarize because they are embarrassed to ask for help on writing assignments (Whitley, Jr. & Keith-Spiegel, 2002). The anthropology faculty encourage you to ask them for help, and the Center for Writing Excellence also provides a number of links on how to write a paper, including proper citation and how to avoid plagiarism: Visit the Center for Writing Excellence.
  • Students sometimes plagiarize because they believe instructors will think they are stupid or unoriginal if the paper is full of citations to other people’s work (Whitley, Jr. & Keith-Spiegel, 2002). This is a misconception: good scholarly work consists of organizing the ideas and evidence presented by other people as the foundation or support for argument. An extensive References Cited section is a strength in any paper.
  • Students sometimes commit academic misconduct because they are unsure of the rules in a particular class, e.g., how much “working together” is acceptable. It is important to ASK your instructor for clarification of any questions you have about assignments. If you don’t ask, instructors will assume that your understanding of the assignment is the same as theirs. According to the Student Handbook, “Misunderstanding of the appropriate academic conduct will not be accepted as an excuse for academic misconduct.”

Many students recognize that academic dishonesty hurts the student who does it. Students have noted the following: “You miss out on opportunities to master research and writing skills—two essential abilities in today’s marketplace,” “You do not experience the gratification that comes from creating something that is distinctly your own,” and “If you commit plagiarism and it is discovered, your career is ruined before it starts” (Whitely, Jr. & Keith-Spiegel, 2002). Academic integrity is the foundation of self-respect and is the responsibility of every member of the Miami community.

* This statement is copied, verbatim in some paragraphs, from Miami University’s Department of Psychology ad-hoc committee report on Academic Dishonesty, May 1, 2003.