Carnegie Mellon University

Defining Standards

As exemplified by the Carnegie Mellon Code, the university holds its students to the highest possible academic standards. Violations of these standards and accompanying consequences are outlined in the corresponding University policies and include:

According to the University Policy on Academic Integrity, cheating "occurs when a student avails her/himself of an unfair or disallowed advantage which includes but is not limited to:

  1. Theft of or unauthorized access to an exam, answer key or other graded work from previous course offerings.
  2. Use of an alternate, stand-in or proxy during an examination.
  3. Copying from the examination or work of another person or source.
  4. Submission or use of falsified data.
  5. Using false statements to obtain additional time or other accommodation.
  6. Falsification of academic credentials."

Cheating at Carnegie Mellon

In academic life, cheating can include copying someone else’s work, having someone else complete an assignment or take an exam for you, or stealing an exam or paper. Paying other students to do your work or buying papers is also prohibited. Submitting or using falsified data constitutes cheating as does lying to obtain additional time or other accommodation. And finally, falsifying academic credentials including but not limited to internship documentation, letters of recommendation, transcripts, and diplomas 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, 38.8% were cases of cheating and carried a range of consequences. However, it is important to know that cheating is 100% avoidable and there are many strategies that students can employ to prevent these types of violations from happening.

The first outcome of an academic integrity violation is a penalty that is assigned by the instructor of the course. Both the Undergraduate Academic Disciplinary Actions Overview and the Graduate Academic Disciplinary Actions Overview give instructors the ability to impose a penalty up to and including failure of the course. Because the procedures allow individual instructors the freedom to assign these penalties, outcomes can range from the loss of points to failure of the assignment or exam or ultimately, failure of the course.

Additionally, both the undergraduate and graduate procedures specifically prohibit the student from dropping the course in order to avoid the instructor’s penalty. In order to drop the course, students must receive permission from the instructor. If a student takes action to drop the course without the instructor’s permission, the student will be reenrolled in the course.

In addition to course-level action that is assessed by the instructor, graduate students with academic integrity violations may also be subject to additional consequences from their department or program. These penalties can vary, ranging from probation to loss of funding. Graduate students should consult their respective program handbooks for more information.

According to the University Policy on Academic Integrity, plagiarism "is defined as the use of work or concepts contributed by other individuals without proper attribution or citation. Unique ideas or materials taken from another source for either written or oral use must be fully acknowledged in academic work to be graded. Examples of sources expected to be referenced include but are not limited to:

  1. Text, either written or spoken, quoted directly or paraphrased.
  2. Graphic elements.
  3. Passages of music, existing either as sound or as notation.
  4. Mathematical proofs.
  5. Scientific data.
  6. Concepts or material derived from the work, published or unpublished, of another person."

Plagiarism at Carnegie Mellon

In academic life, plagiarism can include failing to cite references in your work or not attributing ideas contained in your work to the original source of those ideas. It can occur when students cut and paste material from a web resource directly into their assignments or when they sample graphic or music files without attribution. Putting someone else’s ideas into your own words also requires the appropriate citation or it constitutes plagiarism.

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, 14% were cases of plagiarism that carried a range of consequences. However, it is important to know that plagiarism is 100% avoidable and there are many strategies that students can employ to prevent these types of violations from happening.

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:

  1. Collaboration on any assignment beyond the standards authorized by this policy statement and the course instructor(s).
  2. Submission of work completed or edited in whole or in part by another person.
  3. Supplying or communicating unauthorized information or materials, including graded work and answer keys from previous course offerings, in any way to another student.
  4. Use of unauthorized information or materials, including graded work and answer keys from previous course offerings.
  5. Use of unauthorized devices.
  6. 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 students can employ to prevent these types of violations from happening.

According to the University Policy For Handling Alleged Misconduct In Research, “Carnegie Mellon University is responsible for the integrity of research conducted at the university. As a community of scholars, in which truth and integrity are fundamental, the university must establish procedures for the investigation of allegations of misconduct of research with due care to protect the rights of those accused, those making the allegations, and the university. Furthermore, federal regulations require the university to have explicit procedures for addressing incidents in which there are allegations of misconduct in research.”

The policy goes on to note that "misconduct" means:

  1. fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other serious deviation from accepted practices in proposing, carrying out, or reporting results from research;
  2. material failure to comply with Federal requirements for the protection of researchers, human subjects, or the public or for ensuring the welfare of laboratory animals; or
  3. failure to meet other material legal requirements governing research.”

“To be deemed misconduct for the purposes of this policy, a ‘material failure to comply with Federal requirements’ or a ‘failure to meet other material legal requirements’ must be intentional or grossly negligent.”

To become familiar with the expectations around the responsible conduct of research, please review the guidelines for Responsible Conduct of Research published by the Office of Research Integrity and Compliance (ORIC).