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Honor in the Syllabus

Honor in the Syllabus

The Honor System's experience is that a carefully constructed syllabus with references to the Honor Code and academic integrity can significantly contribute to fewer instances of academic dishonesty.  We suggest at the beginning of each semester you begin with a discussion on expectation.  Explain to your students that you expect them to abide by the Honor Code and you expect the work they submit to be their own.  Students should take time to familiarize themselves with the Honor Code and ask question if they are unclear regarding expectations of the course. Below are some suggestions for language that may be helpful in preparing your syllabus. 

1. Affirmation of the Honor Code

Ideally all class syllabi would affirm the application of the Honor Code at UNC. One example is:

"The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has had a student-led honor system for over 100 years. Academic integrity is at the heart of Carolina and we all are responsible for upholding the ideals of honor and integrity.  The student-led Honor System is responsible for adjudicating any suspected violations of the Honor Code and all suspected instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the honor system. Information, including your responsibilities as a student is outlined in the Instrument of Student Judicial Governance. Your full participation and observance of the Honor Code is expected."

2. Define Academic Dishonesty:

At the beginning of the semester spend a few minutes discussing academic integrity and your expectations.  Talk to your students using common language about the University's definitions and descriptions of academic violations.  Here are some suggestions/explanations:

Plagiarism in the form of "deliberate" or "reckless" representation of another's words, thoughts, or ideas as one's own without attribution in connection with submission of academic work, whether graded or otherwise.

Plagiarism can take many forms and there may be a number of reasons why it occurs.  The more specific you can be in explaining plagiarism, the less likely the violation is to occur.  Some are examples are as follows:

Quote and cite any words that are not your own.

If you paraphrase the words of another, you must still give proper attribution.

If you have a particular citation style that you wish students to use, be specific about which style and provide a link where the student can learn more about that style.

"If you look it up, write it down."

Authorized vs. Unauthorized Collaboration

The following is an example of how the difference between unauthorized vs. authorized collaboration could be discussed in your syllabus:

"All academic work in this course, including homework, quizzes, and exams, is to be your own work, unless otherwise specifically provided.  It is your responsibility if you have any doubt to confirm whether or not collaboration is permitted."

Whenever possible, be clear and concise.  Ambiguous statements often lead to confusion by the student.  For example, one phrase we would not recommend using is:

"You are permitted to work together, but all work submitted must be your own."

Unauthorized materials

Be explicit about what materials may be used by students in completing academic assignments.  If, for example, you do not wish for students to use old exams, outside resources, internet articles, or any other materials, this should be clearly stated both in the syllabus and in connection with the individual assignment.

3.  Resources for Additional Information

We recognize that the requirements for course syllabi cannot include all of the information relevant to the definition and enforcement of academic integrity.  Invite students to seek additional information by encouraging students to contact you or the Office of Student Conduct at 919-962-0805.