Framing Academic Integrity

It can feel personal for us as instructors to come upon acts of academic dishonesty. Such moments “can feel demoralizing, especially for someone whose life work is in the pursuit of academic excellence. It may seem daunting to verify and address the situation” (Mental Health Information for Faculty). The following resources set examples meant to assist faculty in finding ways of defining academic integrity for their own learners as a primary audience.

The Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity

Academic Integrity, as set out by the International Center for Academic Integrity (3rd edition handbook, 2019), is a commitment, even in the face of adversity, to six fundamental values:

  • honesty
  • trust
  • fairness
  • respect
  • responsibility
  • courage

Addressing why integrity is important, they offer this statement:

Scholarly communities flourish when community members “live” the fundamental values. To do this, community members must invoke them—making them part of frequent dialogues that invite students, faculty, and administrators to consider the potential for ethical values to inform and improve various aspects of life on campus and beyond. (4)

In opening this section, titled “The Values,” the authors note dialogue as essential in establishing and sustaining integrity, and present each of the 6 values to support and extend discussions with students by noting definitions, core ideas, suggestions for framing the concept with students, and offering select resources.

Academic Integrity at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 

The Academic Integrity at MIT: A Handbook for Students is a collection of MIT resources acknowledges that unproductive responses to stress and uncertainty create difficult situations that may provoke acts of academic dishonesty, that these responses are not uncommon in learning, and that students can draw on specific strategies to learn new practices in order to meet course assignment expectations effectively and ethically.

The following excerpts set out the key definitions and practices MIT offers students, and can work as springboards for faculty shaping syllabus statements, and discussions with students about academic integrity.

What Is Academic Integrity?

Fundamental to the academic work you do at MIT is an expectation that you will make choices that reflect integrity and responsible behavior.

MIT will ask much of you. Occasionally, you may feel overwhelmed by the amount of work you need to accomplish. You may be short of time, working on several assignments due the same day, or preparing for qualifying exams or your thesis presentation. The pressure can be intense. On the Working Under Pressure page, we suggest resources to help you manage your workload and prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed. However, no matter what level of stress you may find yourself under, MIT expects you to approach your work with honesty and integrity.

Honesty is the foundation of good academic work. Whether you are working on a problem set, lab report, project or paper, avoid engaging in plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, cheating, or facilitating academic dishonesty.

The Working Under Pressure page cited above sets out strategies and resources to guide students in asking for help, getting academic support, asking for advice, managing time, and taking a mind break. The first page of the handbook closes with action-oriented, proactive Do and Don’t suggestions under these five headings:

  • Plagiarism
  • Unauthorized
  • Collaboration
  • Cheating and 
  • Facilitating Academic Dishonesty

Community Standards

The Office for Community Standards (OCS) homepage is a gateway to resources for instructors and students, and provides easy access to the Board of Regents Student Conduct Code Policy. These five key links within the site are good starting places for instructors reexamining current strategies for introducing and integrating academic integrity policies and practices:

  1. Student Conduct Codes
  2. Promoting Academic Integrity in Your Course - sets out practices, campus resources, and advice from students.
  3. Avoiding Scholastic Dishonesty - a companion web page for students with suggestions for establishing honesty-focused practices, gaining writing and learning support from a range of campus-based support services.
  4. Responding to Scholastic Dishonesty - provides both why and how to report dishonesty, and links to specific policies and procedures developed by some UMN colleges.
  5. Finally, the site provides information about Academic Integrity Matters (AIM), a community-based, restorative justice-informed process “offered to students at the end of the disciplinary process for scholastic dishonesty when they accept responsibility for violating the Student Conduct Code.”