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Academic Honesty and Sexual Harassment Policy

 

Background

The department has formulated a policy statement on academic honesty and plagiarism that is distributed to all students. It is extremely important for students to read that policy statement and take it seriously. The policy is meant to promote academic honesty, particularly with respect to written work, in a positive and supportive way. All students are held responsible for following its directives, whether or not they have read the policy statement itself. The consequences of violations can be severe, including dismissal from the program.

The University has issued a very serious and important policy regarding sexual harassment. It is meant to protect and promote a professional relationship between faculty and students, between students and other students, and between graduate TA/GAs and their students as well. A university booklet will be distributed to each student detailing rights and responsibilities. From time to time, sessions will be held for graduate students to discuss this policy in more detail. Every student should feel free to bring any problems or questions to the Chair or other program directors within the department. The department will not tolerate behavior in violation of this university policy.

 

Sexual Harassment

The University reaffirms the principle that students, faculty, and staff have the right to be free from discrimination based upon gender, commonly known as "sexual harassment." The University's Sexual Harassment Policy is located here.

 

Academic Honesty

Academic honesty is an essential part of the teaching and research environment. Research progress in an academic environment comes only when there is a free and open exchange of information and ideas. This is only possible if members of the research community can be trusted to properly acknowledge any reliance on the ideas and work of others.

A Ph.D. program is certainly a situation where one both expects to see this code of honesty and trust honored and where one develops the habits of respecting and attributing the work of others. In particular, the Economics Department believes it should take a positive, active role in promoting academic honesty, not just in enforcing this code if that becomes necessary. This policy statement is the beginning of that active role.

Because ignorance of what constitutes academic honesty sometimes leads to acts that others might view as dishonest, we circulate this policy statement to try to clear up any ignorance that might be present regarding (a) what constitutes academic honesty and dishonesty, (b) the importance that the Department places on academic honesty, and (c) the severe consequences that will follow acts of dishonesty if such situations should unfortunately arise despite our efforts to promote academic honesty: Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated by the Economics Department.

We believe that any possible problems can be avoided by the Department's making the norms for academic honesty clear in this written form, by the faculty's committing itself to be available for advice and support, and by the students' committing themselves to learning and following appropriate academic norms. We hope that this document will be considered a positive step to clear up confusion and avoid potential problems, rather than a negative sign of lack of trust.

I. TYPES OF ACADEMIC DISHONESTY

A. Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the most common form of academic dishonesty. The following passage, taken from Richard M. Eastman's book entitled Style, provides a cogent definition of plagiarism:

Plagiarism is the offering of someone else's words, pictures, data, ideas, and even conceptions as if they were one's own. Writers are indeed encouraged to draw upon the information and wisdom of others, but in the spirit of intellectual inquiry they are expected to state such indebtedness so that (a) their own creativity can be justly appreciated and (b) their use of sources, like a scientist's experiment, can be verified by others. Plagiarism differs from this productive use of sources in that the similarity of the original to the borrowing is very close; it is acknowledged imperfectly or not at all; and it shows little or no creative application by the borrower.

Plagiarism is a prime intellectual offense in that the borrower is faking discovery process. No community of writers and readers can thrive if its members counterfeit their achievements, deceive their critics, and take unfair competitive advantage of others. (Pages 270-1 of Style by Richard M. Eastman. New York: Oxford University Press, 1984). Plagiarism comes in many forms which include (but are not necessarily limited to) the following:

1. Copying verbatim another person's written words without proper acknowledgment. In the case of a direct quote, "proper acknowledgment" entails placing quotation marks around the passage or (in the case of an extended passage) indenting the quotation.

2. Paraphrasing another person's written words without proper acknowledgment. Rephrasing the words does not remove the writer's obligation to indicate clearly that the material belongs to someone else.

3. Quoting or paraphrasing words that were found in a secondary source as if they were found in a primary source. Suppose, for example, that another author uses a quotation from Alfred Marshall that you would like to use in your paper. You may not present the quotation in a manner that will lead readers to believe that you found it by reading Marshall. Instead, you should say, "As so-and-so (19xx) observed, Alfred Marshall made the following statement about this issue:..."

Note: The points made in items 1-3 apply to the use of diagrams, tables, and statistics as well as words.

4. Failing to acknowledge editorial assistance that substantially improves the style and/or quality of your writing. If someone merely points out errors in grammar or punctuation in your writing, or awkward passages, or gives comments about the overall structure of the paper, which you then rewrite, it is not necessary to acknowledge their assistance, although courtesy should lead you to acknowledge substantial helpful editorial comments by colleagues. However, if your writing has been edited or rewritten by someone else in such a way that the style and quality no longer reflect your writing ability, you must acknowledge that editorial assistance was received.

5. Presenting an idea, model, derivation, proof, etc. that other researchers have developed or with which you received substantial assistance without proper acknowledgment. Plagiarism is not limited to the use of other people's words, but it includes the improper use of ideas and methodologies as well. If you choose to present someone else's model in your written work (for example), you must indicate that the model did not originate with you. If an important idea, proof, etc. was given to you by someone else, you must acknowledge the help that you received.

An exception to this point occurs when the model is so widely used and so well-known that it could not possibly be mistaken by the reader as your own (e.g., basic supply and demand models, or the use of ordinary least squares).

6. "Double submission" of papers. Students may not submit the same paper for credit in more than one course without the explicit permission of all instructors who will be evaluating the work.

Note that these rules apply to all written work that you circulate. Also, even starting with the first drafts given to your thesis advisor, you should work at making the appropriate acknowledgments and discuss any uncertain points with your advisor.

Also see Section II, SOME IDEAS ON PRESENTING OTHERS' WORK AND AVOIDING PLAGIARISM.

B. Tampering with research results

This form of academic dishonesty is a primary concern in laboratory sciences, but there is scope for it to occur in empirical economics research as well and even in theoretical economics research as well. Altering your empirical results in order to obtain "more desirable" answers is strictly forbidden. This includes reporting numbers that differ from the estimates you actually obtained and throwing out observations (without reporting your sample section criteria) in order to "improve" your estimates. If others cannot replicate your results, you risk being labeled a fraud. In theoretical papers, claiming that certain results "can be proved" or that they follow "after some manipulation" when the writer has not verified these claims would also be considered academic dishonesty.

C. Collusion

Graduate students are frequently given problem sets, computer projects, and examinations that are completed outside the classroom and then evaluated by their instructors. Before beginning to work on such assignments, you should receive explicit instructions from your instructor regarding the amount of collaboration that is allowed. If you receive unacknowledged assistance from students, friends, family members, or other faculty members that exceeds the amount of collaboration permitted by your instructor, you are committing an act of academic dishonesty.

D. Cheating on in-class examinations

Copying from another student, using notes without the explicit permission of the instructor, or consulting with another student about the exam during an exam are all acts of academic dishonesty. Moreover, students should strive to avoid even the appearance of any of these acts. If it is necessary to communicate to another student during an exam about something unrelated to the exam, it should be said for all to hear, in English, so that no misunderstanding arises. Questions about possible ambiguities in the exam should be directed to the instructor.

II. SOME IDEAS ON PRESENTING OTHERS' WORK AND AVOIDING PLAGIARISM

There are many style manuals which demonstrate how to use direct quotations, how to embed citations in the text of your writing, and how to write a bibliography. Richard M. Eastman's book is one such style handbook. Students should ask faculty members to recommend additional references. Stony Brook's Writing Center will assist students with their writing and will also furnish students with additional information on plagiarism.

One of the typical problems confronted by students writing term papers or theses is how to present the work of others on whom their work will depend. Of course, first of all you need to clearly acknowledge in your text that the work is someone else's; and you need to be clear exactly which parts of what you discuss is theirs: names of concepts, notation, equations, structure, results, observations, etc. Second, you need to either (a) quote all or crucial parts of their description, or (b) read and digest their work, think about exactly how it relates to yours, and then describe it in your own words as it relates to your work. This is clearly harder if you are a student whose native language is not English; however, you must still do it. In the end, you will have avoided any hint of plagiarism and have a more readable and well focused paper or thesis. You should thoroughly discuss with your instructor or thesis advisor any aspects which could even hint at plagiarism and learn how to handle them professionally.

III. OBLIGATION TO REPORT ACTS OF ACADEMIC DISHONESTY

Any faculty member or graduate student in the Department who discovers a serious act of academic dishonesty is required to report it promptly to the Director of Graduate Studies. In doubtful cases, the faculty member will at least discuss the situation with the Director of Graduate Studies. Faculty will certainly consider to be serious any dishonesty which they judge to be intended to deceive or to follow from a lack of commitment to the obligations of honesty and respect for others work. In particular, potential plagiarism found in advanced or "final" drafts of thesis will certainly be considered serious.

When faculty report a serious act of dishonesty, they will generally also indicate what departmental action they recommend and what action they intend to take if the act was related to their course or thesis advising.

If faculty members become aware of even potential acts of plagiarism or dishonesty which they consider unintended, they will discuss the potential problem with the student with the goal of helping the student learn how to correctly handle the situation. The faculty member should then determine that the situation has been handled correctly.

If any problem of academic dishonesty arises in regards to the thesis writing process, the Director of Graduate Studies will inform the thesis adviser and members of the thesis committee who will be jointly responsible for taking appropriate action as outlined above.

Graduate students can also be helpful to their fellow graduate students by letting them know when they see potential problems such as incomplete or misleading acknowledgments that could be plagiarism, and sharing ideas with them on how to avoid such possible problems.

IV. PENALTY FOR ACTS OF ACADEMIC DISHONESTY

Academic dishonesty is an offense against the entire Department. For this reason, individual faculty members should present their recommended actions to the Graduate Committee for final approval, using standards that are applied uniformly.

Penalties may range from a warning (in cases where there is clearly an honest mistake with no intent to deceive) to dismissal from the program. In cases where intent to deceive is apparent, the usual penalty will be dismissal from the program.

For appeal procedures, students may consult the Graduate School's "Guide to Rights and Responsibilities of Graduate Students."

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