According to the University Policy on Academic Integrity, unauthorized assistance "refers to the use of sources of support that have not been specifically authorized in this policy statement or by the course instructor(s) in the completion of academic work to be graded. Such sources of support may include but are not limited to advice or help provided by another individual, published or unpublished written sources, and electronic sources. Examples of unauthorized assistance include but are not limited to:
- Collaboration on any assignment beyond the standards authorized by this policy statement and the course instructor(s).
- Submission of work completed or edited in whole or in part by another person.
- Supplying or communicating unauthorized information or materials, including graded work and answer keys from previous course offerings, in any way to another student.
- Use of unauthorized information or materials, including graded work and answer keys from previous course offerings.
- Use of unauthorized devices.
- Submission for credit of previously completed graded work in a second course without first obtaining permission from the instructor(s) of the second course. In the case of concurrent courses, permission to submit the same work for credit in two courses must be obtained from the instructors of both courses."
Unauthorized Assistance at Carnegie Mellon
Since the University Policy on Academic Integrity gives each instructor the ability to determine what is appropriate in each of their courses, it is possible that what is permitted or even required in one course may be prohibited in another. Thus, it is absolutely crucial for students to know the expectations for each of their courses and to ask before they act in instances where the expectations are unclear.
In academic life, inappropriate collaboration can include talking to friends about an assignment outside of class or working on homework with other students on assignments that the instructor has designated to be individual. It can also include dividing up problem sets or parts of a paper or lab among a group. Sharing your code or essay with someone or sharing notes from previous semesters with students currently taking the class may also be considered unauthorized assistance and may result in academic disciplinary action for students who share their work as well as for those who receive it. Additionally, accessing unauthorized information during an exam including from a cell phone is prohibited in the same manner as looking at someone else's exam. And finally, reusing work from another class, even if it is your own, without the permission of the instructors is also considered to be a violation of university policy.
Of the 293 total number of academic integrity violation reports that were submitted to the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs during the 2014-2015 academic year, 47.2% were cases of unauthorized assistance that carried a range of consequences. However, it is important to know that unauthorized assistance is 100% avoidable and there are many strategies that both students and instructors can employ to prevent these types of violations from happening.