Academic Honesty

Academic honesty is one of the most important concepts to understand in U.S. academic culture since even innocent violations can have serious and life-altering affects on your academic career.  Whether you were rushing to meet a deadline and forgot, or you just did not know because it’s handled differently in your culture - no matter the excuse - it is still considered a serious violation and will be treated as such.  The consequences can range from being given a failing grade on a paper, exam, or course, to being suspended from the university, or worse yet, you could be asked to leave permanently. Additionally, in most all cases, the violation is permanently reflected in one’s academic record.  This is very serious business.

Yale, like other educational institutions in the United States, has a strict zero-tolerance policy for infractions in the academic honesty code. Cheating or plagiarism of any sort is never tolerated. Cheating is when you have someone else write your papers, or take-home exams, or you get answers from others during exams.  Plagiarism is submitting other people’s work as your own.  

Take time to understand Yale’s definition of academic honesty, and follow the rules for proper citations in your writing.  Each college or school plainly posts the details on-line, and trusts that each individual student or scholar will understand and follow the guidelines.  Consult with your dean or academic adviser if you are unclear about any aspect of the policy or if you have questions about your citations.  Citations can be tricky, and Conventions can vary according to the purpose of your writing and whether or not you are in the sciences or humanities.  If you are planning to publish an article or a book, sometimes you may have to get special permission to use the materials.  

Universities operate on the honor system, which makes trust a fundamental element of a U.S. education.  Take-home exams provide a good example of this.  For some international students, it may seem quite strange that a professor would give her students an exam to take home, complete and return to class at a later time.   But that is exactly what it is – an exam that you will, on your honor, complete at home.  It is expected that your answers will reflect your understanding and work, and yours alone.  A take-home exam is not to be shared with, or borrowed from another student, and is considered as being at the same level of seriousness as an in-class exam.  Remember too that aiding dishonesty by supplying answers for an exam is considered just as serious as obtaining them.