The Graduate School Manual - Academic Honesty

Academic Honesty


Binghamton University's Academic Honor Code

See the "Academic Policies and Procedures - All Students" section of the University Bulletin for the full Academic Honesty Code.


The Graduate School's Role in Academic Dishonesty Cases

Each of Binghamton University's schools and colleges have an Academic Honesty Committee. Those committees handle their own academic honesty cases. If there is a process for appeal regarding a decision by an Academic Honesty Committee, then it is outlined in each school or college's procedures for review and decision about violations of BU's academic honesty code. Appeals are handled within the school or college.

The exception is as follows:

If an Academic Honesty Committee recommends revocation of a degree, then the written recommendation and all materials pertaining to the case should be submitted within 10 business days to the Graduate School for review. At his or her discretion, the Dean of the Graduate School may call the committee together, and/or summon the student (or graduate) in the process of rendering his/her decision. If the Dean concurs with the recommendation, then the respondent will be informed by the Dean. Within 10 business days of receiving the decision of the Dean, the student (or graduate) may file a written appeal of that decision, of no more than 500 words, with the Provost, whose determination following examination of the evidence and written recommendations will be final.


When an Academic Unit Resides within the Graduate School

Currently, this applies only to the Materials Science and Engineering Program.

Interpretation of the Code

First time violations which are deemed by the instructor to be minor or unintentional infractions may be handled by the instructor without submitting the charges to the Graduate School's Academic Honesty Committee. However, a record of the infraction and a signed admission of guilt by the student will be kept in a secure file within the Graduate School. Future violations, however minor they may be, will be referred automatically to and handled by the Graduate School's Academic Honesty Committee and penalties will be assigned through that committee, although faculty input may be sought in determining the penalty which is assigned. Serious violations of the Code, as well as any alleged second offenses, will be sent to the committee for consideration and assignment of penalty. Before treating an infraction as a "minor" first-time offense, the instructor should consult with the Graduate School (issues relating to violations of academic honesty and the Code will be handled by the Assistant Dean) to be sure that no previous offenses involving the accused student(s) have occurred and are documented in the secure file mentioned above. Depending upon the severity of the offense and past history of the respective offender(s), penalties for violations of the Code may range from grade reduction (or failure) on the individual assignment or in the course (these will be penalties available to the instructor in dealing with first-time or minor offenses), to suspension for one or more semesters or expulsion (these maximum penalties could only be assigned by the Honesty Committee). Letters of reprimand, placement on disciplinary probation and/or transcript notation may also be part of the Honesty Committee's determination. The Honesty Committee may also recommend re-writing and re-approval of a thesis or dissertation, or revocation of a degree.

Examples of minor violations might include the inclusion of small amount (perhaps a few words or a sentence) of plagiarized material or perhaps a single subordinate idea in a paper, the act of collaborating on part of a take-home or open book exam, or perhaps the exaggeration of an illness in seeking a delay in the submission deadline for a paper or request for a make-up exam. On the other hand, deliberate and extensive inclusion of ideas and/or language from an unacknowledged source, participation in organized cheating between or among individuals, theft of an exam or providing a copy of an exam to a student who has not yet taken it, would be examples of significant academic dishonesty and be subject to more stringent penalty.

Procedures for Cases of Alleged Academic Dishonesty: Enforcement of the Code

If an instructor discovers what he/she considers to be an act of academic dishonesty, the instructor should first confront the involved student(s) and express his/her suspicion that an act of academic dishonesty (violation of the code has occurred) and discuss the nature of the charge and in general terms the evidence which has led the instructor to suspect that dishonesty has occurred. The student should be given the opportunity to respond to the allegation and to explain any actions which may have created the instructor's suspicion. If after hearing the student's explanation, the faculty member remains convinced that the student has committed an act of dishonesty, and the student does not admit to the charge, the instructor should first check to see if there is a record of previous violations by the student(s) in question.

Minor First Offenses

For infractions which the instructor considers to be minor and/or unpremeditated, the faculty member may handle the situation on his/her own, imposing a penalty or other sanction which he/she feels appropriate to the offense, but only after verifying with the dean's office that this is not a second offense for the involved student(s) ---- whether for the same or a different form of academic dishonesty. If the student does admit to the charge, he/she will be asked to sign a form which will be entered into the aforementioned secure file and which briefly explains the nature of the violation. The student's signature will represent an admission of guilt and acceptance of the penalty being imposed by the faculty member. The instructor also will sign this form.

If the student does not admit to the charge and/or is not willing to accept the penalty assigned by the instructor, the student may submit a written petition the Chairperson of the Academic Honesty Committee for a hearing before the committee, with the knowledge that the penalty enacted by the committee, if the student is found guilty, may be more severe than that invoked by the instructor.

Second and Significant Offenses

If an instructor discovers what he believes to be major violation of the code of academic honesty, even if it may be a first time offense (examples include: significant amounts of plagiarized material; participation in willful and organized cheating on exams; theft or unauthorized sharing of examination materials; etc.), the instructor should first meet with the involved student(s). If, after the meeting, the instructor remains convinced that a significant violation has occurred, the instructor should submit a detailed written charge with supporting evidence to the chair of the school's Academic Honesty Committee. The committee chair would then notify the student of the charge and the date of the hearing, as well as a copy of relevant committee hearing procedures. The instructor should assign a grade of "Incomplete" pending the outcome of the hearing. If, after the hearing, the committee concludes that the charges were not clearly proven, then the faculty member should re-evaluate the student's work in the light of that committee finding. In assessing a penalty following a finding of the student(s) guilt, the committee would be guided by the nature of the offense and the presence or absence of previous violations by the student.

In all cases in which guilt is established, either through the committee hearing process or through a determination of the instructor which the student does not challenge or deny, the form indicating the nature of the offense, the evidence upon which the determination is based, and the penalty imposed must be filled out and signed by the faculty member (and the student when there has been an admission of guilt). This "Report of Academic Dishonesty Form" should be forwarded to the chair of the academic dishonesty committee and placed into the secure file in order to provide a record in the event of future infractions by the student, or challenge by the student at a later date.

Composition of Academic Honesty Committee

The Academic Honesty Committee will be comprised of three faculty members and one student from Graduate Council, with an Assistant Dean serving as committee chair. The faculty members and student members will be appointed by the dean or his designee. Faculty members and students directly involved in the respective case cannot serve on a hearing committee handling that case, and must excuse themselves and/or ask the chair to select an alternate hearing committee member. The Assistant Dean will be responsible for scheduling and organizing the meetings, and informing the accused student(s) of the date and time of committee hearing. The committee gives its recommendation to the Associate Dean, who then renders a decision and enforcement of the decision. He/she will also be responsible for the filing of "admission documents" and hearing minutes.

Academic Honesty Committee Procedures

The committee will hear cases of alleged academic dishonesty which are brought before it by faculty members, as well as student appeals of determinations of guilt and associated penalties invoked directly by faculty members. In the event that that illness or professional conflicts make it impossible for an assigned committee member to attend the hearing, or if it is determined that a real or potential conflict of interest exists, the chair will select an alternate faculty member or student to participate as a committee member.

The Assistant Dean will chair the committee and be a non-voting member. The chair is responsible for convening (or canceling if necessary) meetings of the committee, assuring attendance by members of the committee and establishing a quorum (at least, two faculty and one student member) arranging for minutes of committee proceedings, informing affected students in writing of cases being brought against them and of the time and place of associated hearings. Faculty members who wish to bring cases before the committee must inform the chair within 10 business days of the alleged occurrence of violation of the academic code of honor, and must provide basic information regarding the nature of the charges being brought and the evidence upon which the charge is based. Students who wish to appeal a determination of guilt and the penalty assigned by a faculty member must do so within 10 business days of the faculty member's action.

The chair will convene a hearing no later than 10 business days after the receipt of the request for hearing, unless that falls during an intersession, in which case the hearing will occur within 10 business days of the start of the next semester. The amount of time for the hearing is determined by the chair, and normally is 30 minutes, followed by a closed meeting of the committee. Faculty members and teaching assistants who bring a case before the committee must be present at the hearing, as must the accused student(s). The accused student(s) may bring with him/her/them any written or other form of exculpatory information and may summon any witnesses which he/she/they believes may help in establishing innocence of the alleged act of dishonesty. No other people may be invited or brought to the hearing. The hearing may not be taped. After the hearing has been completed, the committee will have 48 hours in which to arrive at a verdict and, if a guilty determination is made, appropriate penalty. The student shall be informed in writing of the disposition of the committee in the matter at hand.

Appeal Process

Within 10 business days of receiving the decision of the Associate Dean, student(s) may file a written appeal of that decision of the committee, of no more than 500 words, with the Dean of the Graduate School. This appeal will ordinarily be based upon allegations of abrogation of due process by the Graduate School (or its Academic Honesty Committee) or upon claimed new and pertinent information not known at the time of the formal consideration of the case by the Graduate School (or its Academic Honesty Committee) to the party who wishes to have it presented, and therefore not available to the Graduate School or its Committee at the time of its deliberations. At his or her discretion, the Dean may call the committee together, and/or summon the affected student(s) in the process of rendering his/her decision on the student appeal. The Dean's decision will be final.

Exception to the Procedure

If the Academic Honesty Committee recommends revocation of a degree, then the recommendation is given to the Dean of the Graduate School, who will then make a decision and inform the parties involved. At his or her discretion, the Dean of the Graduate School may call the committee together, and/or summon the student (or graduate) in the process of rendering his/her decision. Within 10 business days of receiving the decision of the Dean, the student (or graduate) may file a written appeal of that decision, of no more than 500 words, with the Provost, whose determination following examination of the evidence and written recommendations will be final.