Academic Integrity and Discipline
Academic integrity defines a university and is essential to the mission of education. At Columbia, you are expected to participate in an academic community that honors intellectual work and respects its origins. The abilities to synthesize information and produce original work are key components in the learning process. As such, a violation of academic integrity is one of the most serious offenses that one can commit at Columbia. If found responsible, violations range from conditional disciplinary probation to expulsion from the University. Compromising academic integrity not only jeopardizes a student's academic, professional, and social development, it violates the standards of our community. As a Columbia student, you are responsible for making informed choices with regard to academic integrity both inside and outside the classroom.
Students rarely set out with the intent of engaging in violations of academic integrity. But classes are challenging at Columbia, and students may often find themselves pressed for time, unprepared for an assignment or exam, or feeling that the risk of earning a poor grade outweighs the need to be thorough. Such circumstances lead some students to behave in a manner that compromises the integrity of the academic community, disrespects their instructors and classmates, and deprives them of an opportunity to learn. In short, they cheat. Students who find themselves in such circumstances should immediately contact their instructor and adviser for advice.
For undergraduate students, another resource is the Academic section of the Live Well | Learn Well site for Academic resources and support.
The easiest way to avoid the temptation to cheat in the first place is to prepare yourself as best you can. Here are some basic suggestions to help you along the way:
- Discuss with each of your faculty their expectations for maintaining academic integrity.
- Understand that you have a student responsibility to uphold academic integrity based on the expectations outlined in each of your course syllabi.
- Understand instructors' criteria for academic integrity and their policies on citation and group collaboration.
- Clarify any questions or concerns about assignments with instructors as early as possible.
- Develop a timeline for drafts and final edits of assignments and begin preparation in advance.
- Avoid plagiarism: acknowledge people’s opinions and theories by carefully citing their words and always indicating sources.
- Assume that collaboration in the completion of assignments is prohibited unless specified by the instructor.
- Utilize the campus resources, such as the Berick Center for Student Advising, Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS), and Graduate Student Affairs, if feeling overwhelmed, burdened or pressured.
- Attend Academic Integrity workshops offered throughout the academic year.
- If you suspect that an academic integrity violation may have occurred, know that you can talk to your instructor, Advising Dean, Director of Academic Integrity, Office of Engineering Student Affairs, or the Student Conduct and Community Standards Office to report any allegations of academic misconduct.
Students found responsible for an academic integrity violation may be ineligible to receive Latin Honors or other distinctions.
Plagiarism and Acknowledgment of Sources
Columbia has always believed that writing effectively is one of the most important goals a college student can achieve. Students will be asked to do a great deal of written work while at Columbia; for instance: term papers, coding problem sets, seminar presentations and laboratory reports, and analytic essays of different lengths. These papers play a major role in course performance, but more importantly, they play a major role in intellectual development. Columbia’s academic integrity policy in the Standards & Discipline defines plagiarism as “the use of words, phrases, or ideas belonging to the student, without properly citing or acknowledging the source, is prohibited. This may include, but is not limited to, copying computer programs for the purposes of completing assignments for submission.
One of the most prevalent forms of plagiarism involves students using information from the internet without proper citation. While the internet can provide a wealth of information, sources obtained from the web must be properly cited just like any other source. If you are uncertain how to properly cite a source of information that is not your own, whether from the Internet or elsewhere, it is critical that you do not hand in your work until you have learned the proper way to use in-text references, footnotes, and bibliographies. Faculty members or teaching assistants are available to help as questions arise about proper citations, references, and the appropriateness of group work on assignments. Students can also check with the Writing Center directly. Another option is to connect with Research Librarians who facilitate monthly citation management workshops online and in person. Information on these workshops is posted online on the Columbia Libraries website. Undergraduate students can also meet with the Director of Academic Integrity to review citation styles or options for academic support by emailing [email protected]. Graduate students can consult with the Office of Engineering Student Affairs in Suite 530 in Mudd. Ignorance of proper citation methods or academic integrity policies does not exonerate one from responsibility.
For undergraduates only, students can also check with the Undergraduate Writing Program or meet with the Director of Academic Integrity to review citation styles at [email protected]. Ignorance of proper citation methods does not exonerate one from responsibility.
Personal Responsibility, Finding Support, and More Information
A student’s education at Columbia University consists of two complementary components: a mastery over intellectual material within a discipline and the overall development of moral character and personal ethics. Participating in forms of academic dishonesty violates the standards of our community at Columbia and severely inhibits a student’s chance to grow academically, professionally, and socially. As such, Columbia’s approach to academic integrity is informed by its explicit belief that students must take full responsibility for their actions, meaning you will need to make informed choices inside and outside the classroom. Columbia offers a wealth of resources to help students make sound decisions regarding academics, extracurricular activities, and personal issues. Undergraduate students should consult an advising dean or meet with the Director of Academic Integrity in Suite 601 of Lerner Hall. Graduate students should consult the Office of Engineering Student Affairs in Suite 530 in Mudd.
Academic Integrity Policies and Expectations
Violations of policy may be intentional or unintentional and may include dishonesty in academic assignments or in dealing with University officials, including faculty and staff members. Moreover, dishonesty during the Dean’s Discipline hearing process may result in more serious consequences.
Types of academic integrity violations:
- Academic Dishonesty, Facilitation of: assisting another student in a violation of academic integrity is prohibited. This may include but is not limited to selling and/or providing
- Assistance, Unauthorized Giving: unauthorized assistance to another student or receiving unauthorized aid from another person on tests, quizzes, assignments or examinations without the instructor's express permission is prohibited.
- Bribery: offering or giving any favor or thing of value for the purpose of improperly influencing a grade or other evaluation of a student in an academic program is prohibited.
- Cheating: wrongfully using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, study aids, or the ideas or work of another in order to gain an unfair advantage is prohibited. Cheating includes, but is not limited to, using or consulting unauthorized materials or using unauthorized equipment or devices on tests, quizzes, assignments or examinations, working on any examination, text, quiz or assignment outside of the time constraints imposed, the unauthorized use of prescription medication to enhance academic performance, and /or submitting an altered examination or assignment to an instructor for re-grading.
- Collaboration, Unauthorized: collaborating on academic work without the instructor's permission is prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to, unauthorized collaboration on tests, quizzes, assignments, labs, and projects.
- Dishonesty: falsification, forgery, or misrepresentation of information to any University official in order to gain an unfair academic advantage in coursework or lab work, on any application, petition, or documents submitted to this University is prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to, falsifying information on a resume, fabrication of credentials or academic records, misrepresenting one's own research, providing false or misleading information in order to be excused from classes or assignments and/or intentionally underperforming on a placement exam.
- Ethics, Honor Codes, and Professional Standards, Violation of: any violation of published institutional policies related to ethics, honor codes, or professional standards of a student's respective school is prohibited.
- Failing to Safeguard Work: failure to take precautions to safeguard one's own work is prohibited.
- Giving or Taking Academic Materials, Unauthorized: unauthorized circulation or sharing of past or present course material(s) without the instructor's express permission is prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to assignments, exams, lab reports, notebooks, and papers.
- Obtaining Advanced Knowledge: unauthorized advanced access to exams or other assignments without an instructor's express permission is prohibited.
- Plagiarism: the use of words, phrases, or ideas belonging to another without properly citing or acknowledging the source is prohibited. This may include, but is not limited to, copying computer programs for the purposes of completing assignments for submission.
- Sabotage: inappropriately and deliberately harming someone else's academic performance is prohibited.
- Self-Plagiarism: using any material portion of an assignment to fulfill the requirements of more than one course without the instructor's express permission is prohibited.
- Test Conditions: violations of compromising a testing environment or violating specified testing conditions, to intentionally or unintentionally create access to an unfair advantage for oneself or others is prohibited.
Many policy violations that occur in the Residence Halls or within fraternity and sorority housing are handled by Residential Life. More serious offenses are referred directly to Student Conduct and Community Standards. Violations in University Apartment Housing are handled by building managers and housing officials. Some incidents are referred directly to the School’s housing liaison in the Office of Engineering Student Affairs.
In matters involving rallies, picketing, and other mass demonstrations, the Rules of University Conduct outlines procedures. Student Conduct and Community Standards is responsible for all disciplinary affairs concerning undergraduate students that are not reserved to some other body.
The Office of Engineering Student Affairs is responsible for all disciplinary affairs concerning graduate students that are not reserved to some other body.
It is expected that all students act in an honest way and respect the rights of others at all time. Dean's Discipline is the process utilized to investigate and respond to allegations of behavioral or academic misconduct. The Dean's Discipline process is not meant to be an adversarial or legal process, but instead aims to educate students about the impact their behavior may have on their own lives as well as on the greater community and, as a result, is not meant to be an adversarial or legal process.
The process is initiated when an allegation is reported that a student may have violated University policies. Students may be subject to Dean's Discipline for any activity that occurs on or off campus that impinges on the rights of other students and community members. This also includes violations of local, state, or federal laws.
Student Conduct and Community Standards is responsible for administering the Dean's Discipline disciplinary process all disciplinary affairs concerning students that are not reserved to some other body. Students are expected to familiarize themselves with the Standards and Discipline handbook and the policies and expectations available on the Students Conduct and Community Standards website.
Students found responsible for reportable violations of conduct, including academic integrity violations, may face reports of such offenses on future recommendations for law, medical, or graduate school. Students found responsible for any violations of conduct may be disqualified from receiving Latin Honors or other awards. They may also be disqualified from participating in internships or other leadership roles. The parents or guardians of undergraduate students may also be notified in cases of receiving a sanctioned outcome of Disciplinary Probation or higher. For more information about the discipline process for undergraduate students, please review the Academic Integrity website or the Student Conduct and Community Standards website. For more information about the discipline process for graduate students, please contact the Office of Engineering Student Affairs.
Privacy and Reporting: Disciplinary proceedings conducted by the University are subject to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act ("FERPA," also called "The Buckley Amendment"). There are several important exceptions to FERPA that will allow the University to release information to third parties without a student's consent. For example, the release of student disciplinary records is permitted without prior student consent to University officials with a legitimate educational interest such as a student's academic advisor and to Columbia Athletics if the student is an athlete. The University will also release information when a student gives written permission for information when a student gives written permission for information to be shared. To obtain a FERPA waiver, please visit www.columbia.edu/cu/studentconduct/documents/FerpaRelease.pdf. To read more about the exceptions that apply to the disclosure of student records information, please visit the University Policies website.