According to the University Policy on Cheating and Plagiarism, “cheating includes, but is not limited to, … Collaboration in the preparation of an assignment. Unless specifically permitted or required by the instructor, collaboration will usually be viewed by the university as cheating. Each student, therefore, is responsible for understanding the policies of the department offering any course as they refer to the amount of help and collaboration permitted in preparation of assignments.”
Inappropriate Collaboration at Carnegie Mellon
As noted, inappropriate collaboration is a special instance of cheating that warrants specific mention. Since the University Policy on Cheating and Plagiarism 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 considered to be cheating 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 inappropriate collaboration and may result in academic disciplinary action for students who share their work as well as for those who receive it.
Of the 161 total number of academic integrity violation reports that were submitted to the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs during the 2011-2012 academic year, 28% were cases of inappropriate collaboration that carried a range of consequences. However, it is important to know that inappropriate collaboration is 100% avoidable and there are many strategies that both students and instructors can employ to prevent these types of violations from happening.