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Kearns Community Blog

Let Me Be Honest...

You know that plagiarism is unacceptable.  You have been told that it could be grounds for failing a course, or even removal from the university. But did you know that, while giving someone else your course materials or not equally contributing to a group project may not be “plagiarism,” these acts are violations of academic honesty and can be punished in the same way as plagiarism? 

Let us take a second to really think this through; UR defines academic honesty as the ‘recognition, respect, and protection of one another’s intellectual property by members of the academic community’. This extends to the researchers and writers we find on Google and library databases, as well as the faculty, staff, and student body with whom we share this beautiful campus.

Still, what does this honestly mean in practice? To be sure, we are talking about more than the right citation style, the correct use of direct quotes, the way we paraphrase, or what we include on our bibliography; it extends to communication (emails, letters, in person discussions) between faculty, staff, and students, to oral presentations, to study groups and other forms of group collaboration, and all work conducted in and out of every class, recitation, workshop, or special presentations.

Academic honesty is not some buzzword thrown around to make students tense up; it is, in fact, an important aspect of our academic freedom in the academe. I leave you with a few simple rules I follow to uphold the integrity and honesty standards that allow me to post such great blog:

  1. Know and ask repeatedly about the limits and purpose of collaboration. If you do not understand what a professor’s statement on a syllabus means, ask. Group work is a vital component to learning, but it is still expected that the group uphold academic honesty standards, that everyone contribute equally, and in the end, everyone is responsible.
  2. If you feel you could get in trouble for it or if you are unsure what the penalty might be, do not do it.
  3. Use your resources and ask others for clarification.

If you have any doubt about what constitutes plagiarism or academic dishonesty, check out the Academic Honesty website:

Stephon Hamell

About the Author

Stephon Hamell
Stephon Hamell is an Academic Advisor in the David T. Kearns Center for Leadership and Diversity. He started in the Kearns Center in Summer 2013. He has a strong background in mathematics and physics.

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