What does academic integrity entail?

Academic integrity includes a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the EMS community and compromise the worth of work completed by others.

To protect the rights and maintain the trust of honest students and support appropriate behavior, EMS faculty will regularly communicate high standards of integrity and reinforce them by taking reasonable steps to anticipate and prevent acts of dishonesty in all assignments. At the beginning of each course, the instructor will provide students with a statement clarifying the application of EMS academic integrity policies to that course.

Although it is the prerogative of the individual course instructor to pursue violations of academic integrity, the college strongly encourages all faculty to inform their students of the college policy on academic dishonesty and to include a definitive statement in their course syllabi describing unacceptable behavior and the sanctions to be applied should a violation occur. In the case of the latter, a sanction might indicate that a first cheating infraction would lead to a score of zero on the examination or assignment in which the violation occurred, and a second incident would result in an F grade (failure) in the course. A more extensive list of possible sanctions relevant to specific violations may be found in the sanctioning guidelines for academic integrity violations. Moreover, faculty statements also should include conditions or criteria that uniquely apply to the course. For example, large and crowded classrooms require the need for extra care and civility on the part of students to avoid irritation to their neighbors. It is of the utmost importance that students be reminded frequently and clearly about the importance of academic integrity to the educational and scientific enterprise and the consequences to those who chose to violate basic rules of honest behavior.

Forms of academic dishonesty include, but are not limited to:

  • cheating and copying on examinations
  • inappropriate collaboration on assignments
  • and tampering with another person's work

In addition, we are particularly concerned about violations of the research integrity of the college, such as all manners of plagiarism, the submission of previous work, the alteration or omission of relevant data, and electronic theft.

College of EMS Academic Integrity Committee Procedures

Notice of Charges

In the event that an academic integrity violation is suspected, the course instructor should speak to the student. If, after this conversation, instructors believe an academic integrity violation has taken place, they fill out an academic integrity violation form with a recommended academic sanction (e.g., change to grade on the assignment or test) and, if desired, a recommended conduct sanction (e.g., a conduct warning whose administration will be determined by the Office of Student Conduct).

The instructor presents the form to the student with a copy to the EMS Academic Integrity Coordinator, who creates a file and begins the five-business-day countdown for a student to contest the charge and/or the sanction. The student signs the accept or contest line and then submits the signed form to the EMS Academic Integrity Coordinator in the Office of the EMS Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education. Failure to submit the form within five business days is considered acceptance of the charges and sanctions.

Process for Case Review

Students may accept or contest either the charge itself or the recommended sanction(s). 

For charges and sanctions that are accepted by the student, only the Instructor and EMS Academic Integrity Coordinator are involved in the case, and the Instructor-recommended academic sanction is applied.  If there are no prior academic integrity violations, the Instructor-recommended conduct sanctions, if any, are forwarded to the Office of Student Conduct who decides on their implementation.

For charges or sanctions that are contested, the EMS Academic Integrity Committee will deliberate with a hearing, either by the student’s request or by Committee decision. In its deliberations, the Committee may ask for clarifying input from the student and Instructor involved in the case; any materials so obtained, as well as the final decision of the Committee, will be made part of the record and shared with both parties to the extent allowed by Penn State policy and federal or state laws. If the student contested the charge and is found responsible, the Instructor will be advised to apply the original requested academic sanction.  If the student contested the academic sanction itself, the Committee will notify the instructor of any change in sanction recommendation resulting from their deliberation.  If there are no prior academic integrity violations, the process ends here.

Criteria for Sanctions

The highest standards of academic integrity are an absolute necessity for the successful pursuit of scholarly activities and research. Any violation of the strictest adherence to honesty in EMS will not be tolerated and will be evaluated and punished in an appropriate and timely manner. Typical sanctions include a zero on the assignment or examination in question or failure in the course. A more complete list of dishonest acts may be found in the sanctioning guidelines.

Forms and Procedures