Academic Integrity Policy


The Department of History considers the historic purposes of higher education and learning generally to be subverted when students engage in any form of academic dishonesty. A college education is not merely a ticket to a high paying job, but also reflects serious study beyond governmentally mandated schooling. Inherent in higher education is the development of the whole person, not merely the “credentialing” of the individual or the inculcation of “marketable skills.” Believing development of the whole person demands all in the University community abide by basic recognized academic and ethical standards, the Department has drafted these policies regarding academic integrity to govern its interaction with students.

This policy was developed with reference to existing policies used by the Department of Sociology as well as the Department of Literature and Languages. It is also consonant with and will be enforced in a manner consistent with Texas A&M University-Commerce policies. Those University policies include:
  • Texas A&M University-Commerce Code of Student Conduct
  • Texas A&M University-Commerce Procedures, A 13.04, 13.12, 13.31, and 13.32

Conduct Covered By This Policy

Academic integrity violations comprehended by this policy vary from plagiarism to other forms of inappropriate academic conduct. It is important to understand that the enumerated behaviors below do not represent a comprehensive list. An academic integrity violation may inhere in conduct not specifically listed below, but that is nonetheless inappropriate in the view of a reasonable person(s). As a rule, if a student has doubts about whether or not her/his intended action or activity is appropriate, then the student ought to consult the professor involved beforehand. It is better to be embarrassed by a question than put into difficulty by an action.

Sufficient Notice

This policy, along with other University guidelines, represents sufficient notice to any student enrolled in a department course or program that his/her conduct in that course or program is governed by these academic integrity standards. Ignorance of this policy is neither an excuse nor a mitigating circumstance for violations.

Procedure and Penalties

As a rule, procedural and penalty issues regarding academic integrity violations are the purview of the instructor, whatever rank or level of experience. However, academic integrity policies need to be clearly spelled out in syllabi, consistently and proportionately applied, and discussed with students at the beginning of each course. Course syllabi should also refer students to this policy.

Plagiarism: “1. The action or practice of plagiarizing; the wrongful publication or purloining, and publication as one’s own of the ideas, or expression of the ideas (literary, artistic, musical, mechanical, etc.) of another.” Oxford English Dictionary.

Students should know that plagiarism occurs any time another’s ideas or words are used without attribution. Direct quotations must be cited and set off from other text by quotation marks (“”); paraphrasing of another’s ideas must also be cited. Copying from other students is also plagiarism. Any offense wholly or partially touching the above definition constitutes plagiarism for the purposes of this policy.

Faculty members take plagiarism very seriously for two main reasons. First, it represents a subversion of the learning process and cheapens the learning experience for other students as well as the offender. Secondly, college faculty themselves must strictly abide by rules governing their scholarly work, including prohibitions against plagiarism. It is a core value of scholarly professionalism to acknowledge the intellectual contributions of others. It is also an element of our civil and criminal law, as well as the ethical standards of the learned professions—i.e. accounting, architecture, engineering, law, medicine, etc.

Cheating On Examinations, Quizzes, and Other Course Assignments: The Oxford English Dictionary defines the verb “to cheat” as: “2. to defraud; to deprive of by deceit; 3. a. to deceive, impose upon, trick; b. to lead into (an action) by deception; 4. a. to deal fraudulently, practice deceit.”

Any attempt to circumvent the integrity of the testing process or otherwise evade the fullest demands of class assignments in an unethical manner constitutes cheating. That can mean looking on another student’s exam, consulting notes or books during an exam unless specifically permitted by the instructor, stealing an exam and circulating it among other students, text messaging in class during an exam, or lying to an instructor about such activities all constitute forms of academic dishonesty that amount to cheating. Any offense wholly or partially touching the above definition constitutes cheating for the purposes of this policy. 

Collusion: “2. Secret agreement or understanding for purposes of trickery or fraud; underhand scheming or working with another; deceit, fraud, trickery.” Oxford English Dictionary.

Cooperating with another person or a group in any behavior banned by this policy is collusion. Examples would include: allowing another to copy one’s exam answers; taking a paper from or contributing a paper to an online paper clearinghouse, which would also be plagiarism, standing watch while a professor is out of the room while others cheat, or taking an exam for another student. Any offense wholly or partially touching the above definition constitutes collusion for the purposes of this policy.

Abuse: “2.a. Wrong or improper use, misuse, misapplication, perversion.”

This offense is particularly applicable to University facilities and resource material supplied by the University or its agents, i.e. professors. Abuse would include deliberate damaging of classroom furniture or technology, theft of review sheets kept on file, sale of materials provided by instructors free of charge, deliberate attempts to sabotage the work of other students, or defacing instructional materials. Any offense wholly or partially touching the above definition constitutes abuse for the purposes of this policy.  

This is not an exhaustive listing of possible offenses under this policy. Unethical student conduct that to a reasonable person(s) appear comparable to these prohibited actions is also included.  

Disciplinary action for offenses under this policy is largely the purview of the instructor. However, they can include any one or combination of the following:

  1. Point deduction on an assignment.
  2. Failure for an assignment.
  3. A grade of zero for an assignment.
  4. Failure for the course.
  5. Referral to the Academic Integrity Committee or department head for further action.
  6. Referral to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
  7. Referral to the University Discipline Committee.
  8. Communication of student's behavior to the Teacher Certification Office and/or Dean of the College of Education as constituting a reason to bar student from entering into or continuing in a teacher certification program. Procedures, A 13.04, 13.12, 13.31, and 13.32

This department’s Academic Integrity Committee exists to assist in the implementation of this policy. The committee will confer formally or informally as violations are brought to its attention. Its role is advisory, but also potentially determinative. Faculty may request committee advice about a particular case, or faculty may wish the committee determine the appropriate response to a particular violation.

Faculty Autonomy and Academic Integrity

The Department of History supports faculty autonomy in determining, executing and evaluating the effectiveness of classroom policies. The existence of the Academic Integrity Committee and this policy should in no way be construed as an attempt to diminish the fundamental principle of faculty autonomy.