Honesty, Integrity, and Responsibility

Denison University Code of Academic Integrity

Overview: Creating Purpose and Community

Denison University is committed to making all aspects of the institution—inside the classroom and out—a community characterized by honesty, integrity, and responsibility. That commitment was reaffirmed when Denison students developed and proposed the Code of Academic Integrity, which the faculty adopted unanimously in 2008.

The Code establishes as an institutional priority the collective responsibility for maintaining the trust on which learning and living together depend. It also clarifies the means by which Denison’s Campus Compact, the core statement of Denison’s values, applies to academic matters.

The Code applies to all aspects of one’s academic life, including oral presentations, laboratory reports, homework assignments, essays, quizzes, and exams—and it goes beyond asking students to maintain personal integrity: it also asks students to encourage others toward ethical conduct in all of their academic work.

History of the Code of Academic Integrity

The students who developed the Code had several objectives:

  • Increase the climate of trust by making all members of the community responsible for maintaining it
  • Shape a campus culture in which students take full responsibility for their work and receive full credit for their accomplishments
  • Assure consistency and due process in hearings that are held when such standards are not maintained
  • Create a means of ongoing assessment of Denison’s academic culture
  • Develop educational materials to help foster honorable conduct and perpetuate integrity across campus
  • Augment Denison’s reputation for high standards of conduct and honor

To pursue this project, the students surveyed practices at other universities and participated in the annual national conference of the Center for Academic Integrity. They brought the founder of the Center, Professor Don McCabe, to campus to administer and evaluate surveys of student and faculty behavior and attitudes regarding academic honesty.

The students also engaged in community discussions with Campus Affairs Council, the Denison Campus Governance Association (DCGA), administrators in Residential Life, and faculty on the Academic Affairs Council (AAC), and they worked with advisers and deans to craft a complete redesign of Denison’s approach to academic integrity.

The resulting proposal, discussed and revised many times, was passed unanimously by student officers in the DCGA, met with unanimous approval by the AAC, and was passed unanimously by Denison’s faculty.

The process by which Denison students brought the Code into existence is a model of student activism and persistence on behalf of the entire community.

Responsibilities of Students under the Code of Academic Integrity

Foremost, students are charged with taking responsibility. Denison students must do the following:

  • Learn what help is available and permissible as they complete their own assignments.
  • Make certain that work submitted under their names does not make inappropriate use of the work of others—whether words or ideas.
  • Learn the standards for acknowledging and citing sources in academic writing, which are necessarily higher than the standards in any other kind of work.
  • Find out whether they are permitted to consult the Internet or any other kind of material when completing a project, and learn the means of indicating that they have done so in methodical and clear ways.
  • Encourage such behavior in other students, and if someone is considering cheating on a quiz or improperly using ideas without citing them in a paper, the Code requires that students act in some way to discourage such conduct. The Code does not specify how a student is expected to respond in such a case, but it does require that the student act in some way to oppose dishonesty in others.
  • Augment Denison’s reputation for high standards of conduct and honor

These actions are in every student’s best interest, because they are important aspects of critical thinking. Acting with ethics and learning to write with authority involve the same skills. And encouraging others to abide by community standards is invaluable in any endeavor.

Responsibilities of Faculty under the Code of Academic Integrity

Denison’s faculty are charged with the responsibility for encouraging ethical conduct in their students, for clarifying what sorts of assistance are permissible for different projects, and for helping students learn how to make proper and rhetorically effective use of source material.

If an instructor believes that a student has violated the Code of Academic Integrity, the instructor is required to notify the associate provost of academic affairs, who schedules a hearing of the Academic Integrity Board to determine if an offense has occurred, the severity of the offense, and the appropriate means of addressing the offense with penalties and/or educational programming. In the case of a grade penalty, the Integrity Board will make a recommendation to the course instructor who shall have the final authority to assign the grade.

The Importance of the Code of Academic Integrity

The Code provides a means of assuring that values essential to learning—trust, responsibility, and ethics—are promoted and maintained by all members of the Denison community. It enriches the community’s awareness of the importance of integrity and provides structures for collecting and disseminating information about academic honesty at Denison. The Code encourages the development of educational materials that promote effective and honest use of research, and it designates responsibility and provides procedures for maintaining both high standards of conduct and due process in cases of violations.

The collective efforts of students, staff, and faculty—in action and as expressed by the Code of Academic Integrity—add to the quality the Denison experience, to the development of character, and to the value of a Denison University degree.