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Cornell University

Creating an Academic Integrity Statement

Your syllabus should include a statement that explains how Cornell’s general principles of Academic Integrity apply specifically in your course. Every course is different, hence what you expect in your course will differ from faculty in other courses. Your students will benefit from an explicit statement of your expectations. We provide advice here about how to formulate such a statement, and examples to inspire you.

Formulating a Statement

A great formula is:

  1. General principles, plus
  2. Specific guidance, plus
  3. Penalty guidelines.

The general principles part of your statement should refer to Cornell’s Code of Academic Integrity, as well as any department-specific statements that might be available.

The specific guidance part of your statement should explain what is permitted and prohibited in the context of your course and its deliverables — such as homeworks, problem sets, labs, assignments, projects, presentations, and exams.

The penalty guidelines part of your statement should identify what students can expect as grade penalties when they are found guilty of a violation.

General Principles

Here are examples of what you could state as general principles:

  • Cornell University requires all students to abide by the Code of Academic Integrity. To avoid any confusion or misunderstanding of how that applies to this course, specifics for this course are spelled out below. If you have any questions about this policy, please ask.
  • Engineers are responsible for maintaining a very high degree of professional integrity in their work. As a student this means adhering to the Cornell Code of Academic Integrity. For this course the specific rules are as follows.
  • I expect intellectual honesty and ethical behavior from you. If you have any questions about Academic Integrity, please ask me. It is always better to ask first, rather than be sorry later. The following Academic Integrity policies are in effect in this course: The Cornell University Code of Academic Integrity, the Computer Science Department Code of Academic Integrity, and the CS 1110 Academic Integrity Policy, which this course also adopts. This course makes some exceptions and clarifications to those policies, as described below.

Specific Guidance

The specific guidance you give in your course will be driven by your learning objectives, the level of your course, and many other factors. Here are some example statements to provide inspiration.

Examples: Homework

  • Homework is for you to learn the material. You may use whatever resources you feel will best accomplish this objective, including ChatGPT.
  • Homework is for you to learn the material. You may talk with other students and gather information from the web. However, you are expected to cite all sources of information used beyond your textbook and lecture notes. This includes citing discussions with a TA. Any interactions with ChatGPT must be documented: cite ChatGPT for its influence, and include in that citation the prompt(s) that you issued. Make sure that whatever resources you use, you can solve similar, new problems on your own as you will be expected to do so on exams. You will also be expected to apply what you have learned to completely new problems on exams so don’t bypass the thinking involved in doing the homework.
  • Homework is an important part of learning the material and your course grade. As such homework is to be done individually and without referring to sources such as solutions manuals, prior solutions, other student’s homework, or other resources that would let you bypass the difficult but rewarding effort of learning the material yourself. You may talk with other students about the homework, but may not share any written component of yours or another’s work. You may not use ChatGPT.

Examples: Projects

  • The course project provides a chance for you to apply the material you are learning in this course to a problem of interest to you (or your group). You will be using a variety of resources to understand your particular problem and propose a solution. Be sure to document sources you use as you develop your project. That will make it much easier to properly cite resources and references in your final report. All material that is not specifically from your textbook or course notes and that isn’t general knowledge should be cited. For the purposes of this course, general knowledge is considered to be information that can be found from multiple distinct sources, or that a student would have been expected to know/learn from previous or current courses.

Examples: Group Work

  • All members of your group are considered co-authors of the group’s work. Thus you do not have to cite discussions between group members. You must cite contributions by those outside your group.
  • The Cornell code of Academic Integrity is “grounded on the concept of honesty with respect to the intellectual efforts of oneself and others”.1  In group work this means allowing all group members an opportunity to contribute to and learn from the group’s efforts.

Examples: Exams

  • For all exams in this course you are not allowed to use any materials except the following: … You may not give or receive any form of exam aid to any other student in this course during the exam. Any questions should be directed to the exam proctor.
  • For exams in this course you are allowed to use a simple calculator that does not store information or programs. No other aid is permitted during exams.
  • All electronic devices, including mobile phones, tablets, and smart watches, must be fully turned off and put away for the duration of the exam.
  • For each exam you will be provided with a formula and data sheet at the start of the exam. A sample will be posted two days before the exam so that you may familiarize yourself with it. No other information beside what is in your own brain may be accessed during exams.
  • Please bring your Cornell ID to each exam. Students may be asked to have it available as part of the exam process.

Penalty Guidelines

According to the Code of Academic Integrity, upon a guilty finding through a Primary Hearing procedure, you may assign a grade penalty that can range from no penalty at all, up to an F in the course. (Or, if you believe a larger penalty is warranted, you may refer the case to the Academic Integrity Hearing Board.) Since the space of penalties is so vast, it can help to communicate the severity of violations in your particular course. Here are some examples:

  • Any violation of the Academic Integrity policy for this course on an assignment will result in a score of zero on that assignment.
  • On exams the minimum penalty will be a score of zero on the exam, and a final letter grade deduction of 1/3 letter grade (e.g., A reduced to A-).
  • Any violation of Academic Integrity on an exam will result in an F in the course.
  • A first offense of this policy on an assignment will result in a score of zero for the assignment. All exam violations, and/or a second or further offenses on assignments, will result in higher penalties that will be determined following a Primary Hearing.