Academic Integrity Policy


As an institution of higher learning, the University places special emphasis on academic integrity, which is a commitment to the fundamental values of honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility. Only when these values are widely respected and practiced by all members of the University—students, faculty, administrators, and staff—can the University maintain a culture that promotes the free exploration of knowledge, constructive debate, genuine learning, effective research, fair assessment of student progress, and the development of members' characters.

Credit Hour:  Federal regulation defines a credit hour as an amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that is an institutional established equivalence that  reasonably approximates not less than: (1) One hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out of class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester or trimester hour of credit, or ten to twelve weeks for one quarter hour of credit, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time; or (2) At least an equivalent amount of work as required in paragraph (1) of this definition for other academic activities as established by the institution including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours. 

These aims of the University require that all members of the University exercise mutual responsibilities. At its core, academic integrity is secured by a principled commitment to carry out these responsibilities, not by rules and penalties. Students and faculty should strive to create an academic environment that is honest, fair, and respectful of all. They do this by evaluating others' work fairly, by responding to others' ideas critically yet courteously, by respecting others' intellectual and physical property, and by nurturing the values of academic integrity in all contexts of University life.

Nonetheless, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken for violations of academic integrity, including plagiarism, cheating, any use of materials for an assignment or exam that are not permitted by the instructor, and theft or mutilation of intellectual materials or other University equipment. Faculty will assign failing grades for violations of the University's policy on academic integrity and students may immediately receive an F for a course in which they commit a violation. Violations of academic integrity are kept on file; second violations will bring additional sanctions, up to dismissal from the University. For any disciplinary action, the University affords the student the right of due process in an appeals procedure. All matriculated students will be provided with a full description of the University's standards for academic integrity, the consequences for violations, and the appeals procedure.


Sacred Heart University faculty have an ethical and professional obligation to take the following steps to promote academic integrity among their students:

  1. Refer in course syllabi to the University's policy on academic integrity.
  2. Clearly explicate in course syllabi behaviors and actions that constitute academic dishonesty, especially those that may be specific to the assignments of the course.
  3. Clearly explicate in course syllabi consequences for violations of academic integrity.
  4. Reinforce these expectations and consequences periodically during the semester, such as when giving information for assignments.
  5. Model and, where appropriate, teach students those scholarly practices that embody academic integrity.
  6. Abide by this policy on academic integrity, including its reporting requirements.

Sacred Heart University students have the ethical obligation to take the following steps to promote academic integrity among their peers:

  1. Act with integrity in all their coursework.
  2. Abide by this policy on academic integrity and any policies established by their professors and the department in which they are majoring.
  3. Refuse to share materials with peers for the purpose of cheating, or that they believe will be used for cheating.
  4. Take care with their own papers, tests, computer files, and so on, lest these be stolen or appropriated by others.
  5. Notify the professor of a course if they become aware that any form of cheating or plagiarism has occurred. Such notification is not dishonorable but maintains an academic environment in which all students are evaluated fairly for their work; it may also protect a student from a charge of dishonesty (if, for instance, the student's work was appropriated by another).


Academic integrity can flourish only when members of the University voluntarily govern their personal behavior by high ethical standards. However, it is also crucial for the University to define the boundaries of ethical behavior and to prohibit attacks upon the principles of academic integrity. Policies that govern faculty members' ethical responsibilities are treated in the Faculty Handbook. Students' ethical responsibilities are governed by the policy stated here. Departments and programs at the University may supplement this policy with additional guidelines and faculty members may specify additional guidelines in the syllabi for their classes. Students must adhere to such guidelines as well as to the University-wide policy.

All Sacred Heart University students, in all degree programs, are prohibited from engaging in any of the following types of behavior.


Forms of cheating include, but are not limited to:

  • Having unpermitted notes during any exam or quiz. Only materials that a professor explicitly instructs students they may use during an examination are permitted.
  • Copying from other students during any exam or quiz.
  • Having unpermitted prior knowledge of any exam or quiz.
  • Copying or rewriting any homework or lab assignment from another student, or borrowing information for such assignments with the intention of presenting that work as one's own.
  • Using unpermitted materials or taking information from other students for a take-home exam. A take-home exam is an exam; therefore, it requires independent work. Students should follow the procedures given by the professor.

A note on collaboration. These standards require independent work by a student, except for those contexts where professors have specified forms of permitted collaboration with other students. If no form of collaboration has been specified, students must assume that none is permitted. Because assignments that involve group-based work can cause students to question what forms of collaboration are proper, they should seek guidance from their professors in all cases of doubt. Professors should make clear to students what forms of collaboration are permissible and impermissible. The standards on cheating do not prohibit students from studying together or from tutoring each other.


Plagiarism is any act of misrepresenting the sources of one's information and ideas. When writing essays, it is the act of presenting another person's written words or ideas as one's own. When reporting experimental work, it includes the acts of falsifying data and presenting another's data as one's own. In speeches, it involves quoting passages of others' speeches or written words without mention of the author. Plagiarism is also possible in art and music, if one makes use of a work of art or music in a way that violates the standards of attribution in those fields.

Plagiarism may be willful, as when a student knowingly copies a source without attribution, or negligent, as when a student fails to cite sources properly. Both willful and negligent instances of plagiarism are subject to penalty—in part because professors must judge the result of a student's work, not his or her intentions, and in part because students are expected to know and follow the standards for proper citation of sources.

Forms of plagiarism therefore include, but are not limited to:

  • Copying whole papers or passages from another student or from any source.
  • Allowing another student to copy or submit one's work.
  • Buying or obtaining a paper from any source, including term-paper sellers and internet sources, and submitting that paper or passages of it as one's own work.
  • Pasting a passage from the internet or any computer source into one's paper without quoting and attributing the passage.
  • Fabricating or falsifying a bibliography.
  • Falsifying one's results in scientific experiments, whether through fabrication or copying them from another source.
  • Appropriating another person's computer programming work for submission as an assignment.
  • When creating a web page, film, or musical composition as a course assignment, failing to attribute material that comes from other media or failing to obtain proper permission for the use of such material.
  • Any other appropriation of another's intellectual property without proper attribution.
  • Submitting an assignment that one wrote during a previous semester or submitting the same assignment for more than one class simultaneously. This action includes reusing substantial portions of previously written work for a current assignment. (Students who are unsure of what work of their own they may use in preparing an assignment should consult their professors.) Assignments must be written the semester in which they assigned unless a professor approves of the use of previously written material with specific guidelines. Assignments may be submitted for credit in a single course only unless professors in multiple courses are informed of and approve of the multiple submissions.

A note on improper citation. Improper citation of sources occurs when a student presents all the sources he or she used in preparing a paper but fails to attribute quotations and information from those sources in the body of the paper. Specific examples include:

  • Failure to use quotation marks for direct quotes or for an author's distinctive phrases. (A rule of thumb to follow is that five or more words in succession from a source must be enclosed in quotation marks.)
  • Following an author's structure of writing and ideas, but rephrasing the sentences partially to give the impression that the whole passage reflects the student's structure and ideas.
  • Failure to give page numbers for quotations or for other information that did not originate with the student.

Such acts fall under the rubric of plagiarism. Because they sometimes do not involve willful misrepresentation, professors may have more lenient policies in dealing with them. Yet students should strive to cite all information properly and should note that professors have the discretion to treat these cases as seriously as the forms of plagiarism listed above.


Other forms of unethical behavior that disrupt the processes of learning, teaching, and research include:

  • Providing to other students exams or papers of one's own or from any source with the reasonable expectation that these will be used for the purpose of cheating or plagiarism.
  • Maintaining a file of exams or papers with the reasonable expectation that these will be used for the purpose of cheating or plagiarism.
  • Theft and damage of library materials.
  • Theft of other students' notes, papers, homework, and textbooks.
  • Posting another person's work on the internet without that person's permission.


When a faculty member encounters a suspected case of academic dishonesty, he or she should address the matter with the student, after collecting whatever evidence may be available and relevant. The faculty has the right to ask the student to provide evidence about the sources used or other reasonable requests to establish the work the student did.

If the faculty member discovers that the student did act dishonestly, he or she will assign a penalty of a failing grade for the assignment; he or she may immediately assign the student a grade of “F” for the course. Cases of improper citation are a matter of faculty discretion.

Faculty will report in writing the incident of academic dishonesty and the sanction imposed to the faculty's Chair or Program Director, to the Dean of the College in which the course was taken, and to the Dean of the student's College. The faculty member will provide all parties with appropriate documentation of the incident. The Dean of the student's College will inform the student in writing of the accusation, the instructor's course-based sanction, and the appeals process available to the student.


When a student fails a course or receives a reduced course grade based on an accusation of dishonesty, the student may appeal the grade upon presentation of a written statement demonstrating that he or she did not violate the present policy. The student should present supporting documentation. A documented appeal associated with a grade must be presented in writing within six months after the original grade was issued.

The procedure for a documented appeal is as follows:

  1. The student will initially have presented his or her explanation to the faculty member when the faculty member first consults the student about the work in question. The student who claims he or she did not act dishonestly should ordinarily attempt a resolution with the faculty member.
  2. If, after the first step, the faculty member imposes a sanction because he or she finds the student acted in violation of the policy, the student may present the case in writing with supporting evidence to the Department Chairperson or Program Director of the faculty member involved. The Chairperson/Program Director will consult with the faculty member in an attempt to resolve the matter. If the Chairperson/Program Director is unable to resolve the matter, he or she will inform the student in writing. If the student wishes to pursue the matter further, the student may appeal in writing to the Dean of the College in which the course was taken.
  3. If the Dean of the College in which the course was taken or the Dean's designee finds that the appeal has merit, he or she will convene an appeal committee. This committee will consist of three faculty members: one selected by the student, one selected by the faculty member who taught the course, and one selected by the Dean. After reviewing all documented evidence, the appeal committee will then propose a solution that the grade either stands or should be reviewed by the faculty member. This concludes the process.


The Deans will maintain central files on all reported cases of student academic dishonesty in their Colleges. Should a student transfer his or her major to another College, the Dean will transfer files pertaining to that student to the Dean of the other College.

When the Dean of any College receives confirmed notice of a second violation by a student in that College, the Dean will refer the matter to a standing faculty committee on academic integrity. This committee will consist of one faculty member each from the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, and Education and Health Professions. The committee will also include the Dean of Students as a non-voting member. Faculty members of the committee will be appointed for two-year terms by a vote of the Faculty Senate. The purpose of this committee is to recommend additional sanctions to be taken against the student, including exclusion from the University for one or two semesters or dismissal from the University.

The committee will have available to it the documentation of the student's previous violations of academic integrity; however, the committee is not to reconsider the student's guilt or innocence in those incidents. The committee will hear from the student's advisor and the Chair or Program Director of the student's major department(s). The student will have an opportunity to address the committee if he or she wishes. The student may be accompanied by an advocate who is a current employee of the University who may not act as the student's legal counsel.

The committee will make a recommendation of sanction to the Dean of the student's College, who will in turn make a recommendation to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. The decision of the Vice President for Academic Affairs will be final.


When a student is suspected of having violated academic integrity by an action that did not occur in the context of a course (see section III.3 above, Other Violations), the student, faculty, staff, or administrator who suspects the violation and has plausible evidence should present this information to the Dean of Students. The Dean of Students will decide how to pursue the matter, and the student will have the right to appeal any consequences according to the Student Handbook.