Academic Honesty

Computing faculty appreciate that the vast majority of our students are honest and take great pride in their individual work. Unfortunately, however, this is not always the case. Some students abuse our trust by engaging in academic misconduct. This guide clarifies appropriate behavior and unacceptable behavior.

These guidelines and procedures complement the GVSU academic honesty policies by clarifying academic honesty within the computing majors. Content has been heavily influenced by similar statements at Oregon State University, George Washington University, and Stanford University.


Computing Academic Integrity Policy

To summarize GVSU’s and the School of Computing’s academic misconduct policies, fundamentally the work you submit must be your own, and any action taken to earn credit for assignments while avoiding learning the material or avoiding demonstrating your personal understanding of the material, or assisting others in doing so, is considered academic misconduct.

General Rules (unless otherwise stated by your instructor):

  • You are responsible for anything turned in with your name on it, and the assumption is that the work you turn in, including source code, is your own unless otherwise cited.
  • You should be doing each assignment in its entirety from the beginning, even if this includes work that feels repeated from another assignment or class.
  • When turning in assignments, groups are considered individuals for the purposes of academic misconduct, which means that the same rules that apply to individuals also apply to groups (e.g., all work is assumed to be done by the group members and no one else outside of the group)
  • If you use code or ideas you find online or that come from someone else in any way, you must cite it. Making modifications to someone else’s work to pass off as your own is considered academic misconduct.
  • You must be able to explain any work you turn in. If you can’t explain it, then you have gotten too much help with the assignment, and it will be considered academic misconduct.
  • You may not submit work with the intent of circumventing automated systems to get credit, reveal the correct answer, or reveal hidden test cases without answering the underlying question.
  • Lying to get some special consideration for an assignment (e.g., lying about being sick to get an extension) is considered academic misconduct.
  • Exams are closed-notes unless otherwise stated. However, it is still expected that you are completing the exam independently of anyone else even if the exam is open-notes.
  • Exams should not be discussed with other students until the instructor indicates that it is ok to do so. Other students may be taking the exam at a later date (e.g., because they were sick on the original exam date), and hearing you talk about the exam could be considered academic misconduct for both you and the other student.
  • You are responsible for protecting your work from being seen by others (not posting code online, locking your computer screen, etc.)
  • You are responsible for asking your instructor any questions related to academic integrity before the assignment is due and with enough time to make any necessary adjustments before the deadline. Extensions for fixing academic misconduct issues with your assignments are generally not permitted.
  • While you are encouraged to discuss general approaches to an assignment with other students, you should not be looking at other students’ work (including source code).

Considering these general rules, you are still encouraged to:

  • discuss problems in general with other students
  • provide and receive help with simple compile errors
  • provide and receive help with using the computing environment
  • discuss assignment requirements
  • study for exams with other students

Academic Misconduct Specifics:

Collaboration in Industry:

Hardly anyone works in a vacuum. In industry, if you had a problem you couldn’t figure out, you wouldn’t hesitate to go to a colleague and ask for help. If no one around you could help, you would seek out sources on the Internet. In industry, the focus is on the product, rather than the process. You would do everything in your power to get the product finished, regardless of the process you went through to do it (even then, industry does have standards about honesty too; refer to the Association of Computing Machinery’s Code of Ethics and the IEEE Software Engineering Code of Ethics).

Collaboration in School:

However, in an academic environment, the primary purpose of assignments is to teach students to think — to come up with solutions of their own, try them out, see what works and doesn’t work. In academic assignments, it’s the process that’s important.

Assignments include source code, research papers, design specifications and any other deliverables that are graded as part of the course. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, all assignments in computing are expected to be individual efforts. Some instructors in upper level courses might encourage or even require collaboration. However, this collaboration will be well defined and designed to model industry practice.

Plagiarism in Computing:

Plagiarism is the willful copying of words or ideas from a source without giving the author full credit for those words or ideas. The source may be your textbook, a web site, a CD-ROM, an e-mail from a friend, conversations with individuals in the computer lab and other sources.

You avoid plagiarism by acknowledging the original author of any ideas you copy or receive significant inspiration from. This includes, for example, source code from textbooks, accompanying CD-ROMS, and web sites. Acknowledgment should be within the source code. Acknowledgment within other assignments such as reports should be done with endnotes. Consult with your instructor if you have any doubts on the legitimacy of a source.


Repercussions for Academic Misconduct:

Academic misconduct will not be tolerated. Computing faculty will generally assign a failing grade in the course for your first offense. However, suspension will be recommended for especially flagrant acts. For a second offense, expulsion from GVSU will be recommended.

For any suspicion of academic misconduct, instructors are obligated to submit a report to the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution (OSCCR). Leading up to reporting the incident, the School of Computing’s Academic Honesty Committee (AHC) may also be consulted. The Academic Honesty Committee (ahc@cis.gvsu.edu) provides faculty members with two basic services: (1) review of material, to verify whether or not academic dishonesty has occurred, and (2) suggest a response/action to cases of dishonesty.


Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Can I post my solution to GitHub (or some other code repository site)?
    • You should not be posting solutions (either in the entirety or just in part) for assignments on GitHub which other students are doing or will be doing as well (e.g., a common assignment across the entire class, or an assignment that repeats between semesters of a given class). However, unique assignments are typically ok to post on GitHub, but you should ask your instructor before doing so.

 

  • Can I get help with my assignment from someone else (not the instructor)?
    • You may get help from someone else, but the work you submit in the end must be your own. You may not consult with others while taking exams.
    • Also see: “Can I have help from a tutor?”

 

  • Can I develop a solution with another student by writing Java code on a whiteboard?
    • This would be considered cheating. While typically discussing problems in general is okay, writing code together (even on a whiteboard) is generally considered academic misconduct.

 

  • Can I have help from a tutor?
    • You may seek help from a tutor, but the work you submit for projects in the end must be your own. You may not consult tutors when taking exams.

 

  • If some issue is found, will I have an opportunity to change my assignment after the due date?
    • No. By the due date, it is assumed that your assignment is in its final state, and it will be graded as such. Therefore, any issues found with your assignment at that point will be considered academic misconduct. Any questions you have about your assignment and academic misconduct should be brought up before the deadline.

 

  • Can I reuse all or part of an assignment (whether from this class or from a previous course)?
    • Depends on the assignment, as some assignments are smaller or asking you to learn a specific concept (in which case you should not be reusing anything, no matter how small), whereas others involve larger problems (for which you may be allowed to reuse small pieces from other assignments/courses). Ask your instructor before you reuse any part of an assignment.

 

  • Can I use sites like StackOverflow?
    • Depends on the assignment, as some assignments are asking you to learn a specific concept (which you should not be finding solutions for on StackOverflow) while others involve larger problems (for which you may be allowed to use code snippets found on StackOverflow to help you solve the larger problem). Ask your instructor before you search for anything on StackOverflow.
    • You should not be posting solutions for assignments on StackOverflow which other students are doing or will be doing as well (e.g., a common assignment across the entire class, or an assignment that repeats between semesters of a given class).

 

  • Can I use sites like Chegg?
    • Depends on the assignment, as some assignments are asking you to learn a specific concept (which you should not be finding solutions for on Chegg) while others involve larger problems (for which you may be allowed to use code snippets found on Chegg to help you solve the larger problem). Ask your instructor before you search for anything on Chegg.
    • You should not be posting solutions for assignments on Chegg which other students are doing or will be doing as well (e.g., a common assignment across the entire class, or an assignment that repeats between semesters of a given class).
    • Also see: “Can I have help from a tutor?”

 

  • Can I use sites like GitHub?
    • Depends on the assignment, as some assignments are asking you to learn a specific concept (which you should not be finding solutions for on GitHub) while others involve larger problems (for which you may be allowed to use code snippets found on GitHub to help you solve the larger problem). Ask your instructor before you search for anything on GitHub.
    • You should not be posting solutions for assignments on GitHub which other students are doing or will be doing as well (e.g., a common assignment across the entire class, or an assignment that repeats between semesters of a given class). However, unique assignments are typically ok to post on GitHub, but you should ask your instructor before doing so.

Academic Honesty Committee:

The Academic Honesty Committee (ahac@cis.gvsu.edu) provides faculty members with two basic services:

  1. review of material, to verify whether or not academic dishonesty has occurred
  2. suggest a response/action to cases of dishonesty.

Adopted by the School of Computing faculty on January 15, 2001.



Page last modified May 13, 2022