Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

Academic Integrity Policy

University Policy states that assistance from campus resources (Academic Development, the Global Communication Center, and the Academic Resource Center at CMU-Q) is permitted, but no collaboration is allowed unless specifically permitted by a course instructor. However, as course instructor, you can choose to specify alternative boundaries for acceptable and unacceptable collaboration and/or assistance.

When writing your academic integrity policy, consider the following questions:

  • How is the policy motivated by the positive dimensions of academic integrity (i.e. academic integrity is about enhancing your education and being a trusted member of the CMU community)?
  • What is and is not permitted with respect to collaboration and/or outside assistance for each type of graded work in your course? Be sure to highlight where and how your policy departs from the default University Policy.
  • What procedures can/should students follow to acknowledge collaboration (if permitted) and/or assistance when they submit graded work?

Note: You should also provide links to the University Policy on Academic Integrity and to the Carnegie Mellon Code on Academic Integrity in your syllabus.

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Honesty and transparency are important features of good scholarship. On the flip side, plagiarism and cheating are serious academic offenses with serious consequences. If you are discovered engaging in either behavior in this course, you will earn a failing grade on the assignment in question, and further disciplinary action may be taken.

For a clear description of what counts as plagiarism, cheating, and/or the use of unauthorized sources, please see the University’s Policy on Academic Integrity (revised in April 2013):

    I encourage you to work together on homework assignments and to make use of campus resources like Academic Development, the Global Communication Center, and the Intercultural Communication Center to assist you in your pursuit of academic excellence. However, please note that in accord with the university’s policy you must acknowledge any collaboration or assistance that you receive on work that is to be graded: so when you turn in a homework assignments, please include a sentence at the end that says either:

  1. “I worked alone on this assignment.”, or
  2. “I worked with __________ on this assignment.” and/or
  3. “I received assistance from _________ on this assignment.”

Note that providing this information will only serve to help me understand you better: I strongly endorse the use of campus resources like Academic Development and the Global Communication Center, as well as collaborative learning, when it increases your ability to succeed in this class and when it enhances your education and learning.

If you have questions about my integration of the university’s policy into this course, please do not hesitate to ask: my aim is to foster an environment where you can learn and grow, while ensuring that the work we all do is honest and fair. For more information about Carnegie Mellon’s standards with respect to academic integrity, you can also check out the following link:

Students who copy assignments, allow assignments to be copied, or cheat on tests will fail the assignment or test on the first offense, and fail the entire course on the second.

Many students have questions as to what constitutes too much "help" on essays or homework. Of course, you may ask a friend (who may have studied ________ longer than you) if a certain phrase or sentence is correct. You may consult an online dictionary or translator for a word or phrase. BUT, the line between legitimate help and cheating is this: Are you able to reproduce the same information on a test or on your own? If the answer is yes - i.e., you learned something from getting the help and won't make the same mistake again - that's okay. If the answer is no – i.e., you can't identify the parts of speech in the phrase or you can't tell me what the word(s) mean on the spot) then you shouldn't turn in the assignment as your own work. You should, at the very least, indicate those parts of the assignment that are not your own work.

Experienced teachers like me can easily recognize essays that are written by native, near-native, or advanced speakers, are copied from other sources, or are completed using online translation services. I am obligated to uphold the university's policy on academic integrity and I take this responsibility very seriously. If you are unsure about your particular situation, please ask me for clarification BEFORE you turn in an assignment as your own work. Please take the time to read the University’s discussion guide for promoting academic integrity at:

In addition, you can find the University’s full Policy on Academic Integrity here:

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Here are some examples of acceptable collaboration:

  • Clarifying ambiguities or vague points in class handouts, textbooks, or lectures.
  • Discussing or explaining the general class material.
  • Providing assistance with Java, in using the system facilities, or with editing, debugging, and Java tools.
  • Discussing the code that we give out on the assignment.
  • Discussing the assignments to better understand them.
  • Getting help from anyone concerning programming issues which are clearly more general than the specific assignment (e.g., what does a particular error message mean?).

Now for the dark side. As a general rule, if you do not understand what you are handing in, you are probably cheating. If you have given somebody the answer, you are probably cheating. In order to help you draw the line, here are some examples of clear cases of cheating:

  • Copying (program or assignment) files from another person or source, including retyping their files, changing variable names, copying code without explicit citation from previously published works (except the textbook), etc.
  • Allowing someone else to copy your code or written assignment, either in draft or final form.
  • Getting help from someone whom you do not acknowledge on your solution.
  • Copying from another student during an exam, quiz, or midterm. This includes receiving exam-related information from a student who has already taken the exam.
  • Writing, using, or submitting a program that attempts to alter or erase grading information or otherwise compromise security.
  • Inappropriately obtaining course information from instructors and TAs.
  • Looking at someone else’s files containing draft solutions, even if the file permissions are incorrectly set to allow it.
  • Receiving help from students who have taken the course in previous years.
  • Lying to course staff.
  • Copying on quizzes or exams.
  • Reviewing any course materials (or software) from previous years.
  • Reading the current solution (handed out) if you will be handing in the current assignment late.

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