Academic Integrity

West Chester University is committed to maintaining high standards of academic integrity. Any situation involving a violation of academic integrity is of major concern to the University. Faculty members preserve and transmit the values of the academic community through example in their own academic pursuits and through the learning environment that they create for their students. They are expected to instill in their students a respect for integrity and an understanding of the importance of honesty within their chosen profession. Faculty must also take measures to discourage student academic dishonesty. 

Commitment to maintaining and encouraging high standards of academic integrity is demonstrated in many ways. One way is through the establishment of policies and procedures governing violation of the standards of academic integrity. The following policies, procedures, and definitions are intended to help faculty meet these responsibilities. 

First, the instructor has both the right and responsibility to demand academic honesty if a student is to remain in good standing in the course and is to be evaluated fairly by the instructor. A grade certifies both knowledge and a standard of academic integrity. It is essential that the instructor retain the right to set the minimum academic penalty for academic dishonesty in a course, subject to the appeal rights of a student. 

Second, cheating is not just a matter between an instructor and student in a specific course. While it is the right and duty of the instructor to set minimum penalties for dishonesty in a particular course, the University is responsible for the minimum standards of academic integrity and achievement on which degrees are based. It is the University that permits students to remain members of the academic community and finally certifies that students have attained sufficient academic credit and exhibited acceptable standards of conduct to entitle them to a degree. Incidents of academic dishonesty, especially when they recur and become patterns of dishonest behavior, require that the University be in position to use more severe disciplinary measures than those available to the professor, including expulsion of the student from the University. It is therefore imperative that individual instances of academic dishonesty, accompanied by details concerning penalties, become a part of the student's academic record. 

Third, students accused of academic dishonesty have the right to have their case heard in a fair and impartial manner, with all the safeguards available within the bounds of due process. As responsible members of the academic community, students are obligated to comply with the basic standards of integrity. They are also expected to take an active role in encouraging other members to respect those standards. Should a student have reason to believe that a violation of academic integrity has occurred, they are encouraged to make the suspicion known to a member of the faculty or University administration.

Violations of Academic Integrity

Violations of the academic integrity standards of West Chester University fall into six broadly defined categories listed below. 

1.     Plagiarism 
a.     Plagiarism is the inclusion of someone else's work as one's own, which can include but is not limited to words, ideas, data, visual representation of ideas, audio, video, and digital martials. When a student submits work for credit that includes the work of others, the source must be acknowledged through complete, accurate, and specific references and, if verbatim statements are included, through quotation marks as well. Likewise, the sources and creators of images, videos, audio clips, and other digital sources should be acknowledged through caption or direct reference. By placing their name on work submitted to meet an academic requirement,  the student certifies the originality of all work not otherwise identified by appropriate acknowledgments. Plagiarism covers unpublished as well as published sources.
2.     Fabrication 
a.     Fabrication is the use of invented information or the falsification of research, results, information, citations, or other findings.
3.     Cheating 
a.     Cheating is an act or an attempted act of deception by which a student seeks to misrepresent their mastery of the information or skills being assessed. It includes, but is not limited to, using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, or study aids in any academic exercise.
4.     Academic Misconduct 
a.     Academic misconduct includes, but is not limited to, other academically dishonest acts such as tampering with grades; or submitting false evidence or documentation; or taking part in obtaining or distributing any part of a test that has not yet been administered; or disrupting or interfering with the ability of others to complete academic assignments. It also includes violations of the Student Code of Conduct, as they relate to the academic environment.
5.     Facilitating Academic Dishonesty 
a.     Facilitating academic dishonesty includes helping or attempting to help another to commit an act of academic dishonesty.
6.     Breach of Standards of Professional Ethics 
a.     In certain degree programs, students will be instructed on and provided with that particular profession's code of ethics (e.g., the American Nurses Association Code for Nurses). Under some circumstances, if a student is found to have violated that professional code, that violation may be considered a breach of the Academic Integrity Policy. 

Students are responsible for understanding institutional expectations related to academic integrity and should consult with their faculty members or the University’s Writing Center whenever they have questions. For detailed information about the University’s Academic Integrity Policy and the process for addressing violations of Academic Integrity Policy, undergraduate students should visit the policy in the Undergraduate Catalog, and graduate students should visit the policy in the Graduate Catalog.


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