Academic Integrity Policy and Procedure

1. Statement of Policy

All members of the Penn State Great Valley community are expected to accept responsibility for the integrity and basic honesty of their academic work including coursework, research and other scholarly activities. Students are therefore responsible for understanding and observing the university’s academic integrity policy. Students are also expected to understand and maintain standards of integrity and professional conduct endorsed by their program that are particular to their field of study and research.

The authority to administer academic sanctions remains the responsibility of the campus instructor and the campus AI Committee throughout the academic integrity process according to G-9. In situations where a disciplinary sanction is requested and referred to the Office of Student Conduct, the application of academic sanctions is carried out by the campus, while the application of any disciplinary sanctions is carried out by the Student Conduct designee, in consultation with the Academic Integrity Committee of the campus.

This policy defines violations of academic integrity. Allegations of violations will lead to inquiries conducted under the authority of the Penn State Great Valley School of Graduate Professional Studies, and may result in the imposition of disciplinary actions and sanctions. The Great Valley School of Graduate Professional Studies vigorously supports the University's commitment to academic honesty. The School does not tolerate violations of this policy. The School supports appropriate sanctions that are consistent with the University guidelines. Procedures for these inquiries are described below.

2. Forms of Academic Misconduct

Offenses against the standards of academic integrity include the following categories of misconduct. These categories are not limited to the violations listed below and may include other forms of misconduct.

2.1. Cheating or Obtaining an Improper Advantage

  • Copying from another’s exam or other evaluative assignment
  • Using notes, books, digital devices or resources, or other materials for an exam or other evaluative assignment without explicit permission of the instructor
  • Submitting work that was previously used for another class without the informed permission of the instructor
  • Discussing or sharing information about questions or answers on an exam or other evaluative assignment without explicit permission of the instructor
  • Giving, taking, or receiving copies of current or previous exams of the course without explicit permission of the instructor
  • Allowing another person to take an exam or complete an assignment for the student
  • Attempting to change the result of an exam or other evaluation

2.2. Plagiarism

Includes:

  • Representing the words, ideas, or work of others as one’s own in writing or presentations, and failing to give full and proper credit to the original source
  • Failing to properly acknowledge and cite language from another source, including paraphrased text
  • Failing to properly cite any ideas, images, technical work, creative content, or other material taken from published or unpublished sources in any medium, including online material or oral presentations, and including the author’s own previous work

2.3. Research Misconduct

Includes:

  • The falsification of data, including the dishonest reporting of investigative results: i.e., tampering, manipulating, omitting, selective editing, or altering of laboratory or field data and research notes or records in a way that is deceptive and misrepresents investigative results
  • The fabrication of data, including deception by inventing and misrepresenting laboratory or field data and research notes or records
  • Data theft, including taking or using any data, methods, or procedures that are the work or property of others without permission and proper acknowledgment Interfering, inhibiting, or damaging the research of others
  • Misuse of human subjects, including failure to obtain prior review and approval by the proper Institutional Review Board and failure to safeguard the well-being and private information of persons who participate in research
  • Material failure to comply with legal requirements governing research

2.4. Dishonesty in Publication

Includes:

  • Knowingly attempting to publish information or research that is false, fabricated, deceptive, or misleading, or contains the plagiarized work of others
  • Attempting to publish work without the permission and full and proper credit of others who have collaborated or contributed to the research, and to deny joint authorship, when appropriate
  • The listing as authors of persons who did not contribute to the work
  • Abuse of the peer review process, including simultaneous submission of a manuscript or abstract to more than one journal without approval from the respective editors; submission of previously published material without clarifying the extent of the previously published material; submission of a manuscript without the permission/agreement of all authors; and other actions and conflicts of interest that undermine the integrity of the peer review process

2.5. Abuse of Confidentiality

Includes unauthorized sharing or releasing information of others, including public or private sponsors, concerning ideas, data, research, grant proposals, manuscripts, patent applications, proprietary information, or other projects or activities that were given with the expectation that these would not be disclosed.

2.6. Misuse of Computer Facilities

Includes violations of the University’s Technology Policies for proper use of information resource infrastructure, sharing of information, privacy and security, data management, and digital copyright.

2.7. Fabrication, Falsification, or Unauthorized Modification of an Academic Record

Includes alterations to transcripts, grades, letters of recommendation, or other evaluations by or for any current or former student.

2.8. Obstruction of the Academic Activities and Research of Another

Includes harassment, intimidation, or tampering with experimental data, research records and notes, written documents, creative products, technical equipment or chemicals, or with any object of study.

2.9. Illegal or Unauthorized Use of University Resources

3. Participants in Academic Integrity Cases

Several parties are involved in academic integrity cases at the Penn State Great Valley School of Graduate Professional Studies:

  • Faculty Member
  • Student
  • The Academic Integrity Committee (AIC)
  • Chancellor
  • Office of Student Conduct Designee

The School established the Academic Integrity Committee (AIC) to review and settle all contested cases of academic integrity infractions in which sanctions are applied. This body is responsible for the final review for all charges of academic dishonesty. Violations of the code of conduct for non-AI issues are dealt with by the Great Valley Office of Student Conduct Designee and the Judicial Hearing Board.

The Penn State Great Valley Academic Integrity Committee consists of three faculty members, one administrator and one student. If the instructor bringing the charges is an AIC member, he or she will not participate in the review and hearing. The Chancellor may elect to assign another faculty member to the committee in these cases, although AIC cases may proceed with just two faculty. Other participants in the process of adjudicating academic integrity cases may include the student’s advisor and witnesses, in addition to the faculty member and student.

This committee shall:

  • Promote expectations for academic integrity consistent with the definitions in this policy.
  • Ensure fairness and consistency in processes and outcomes. To ensure University-wide consistency, committees will work with the Office of Student Conduct and the Office of the Provost of the University to develop procedures for handling and sanctioning infractions of academic integrity.
  • Review and settle all contested cases in which academic sanctions are applied. If necessary, further disciplinary action will be taken by the Office of Student Conduct.
  • Record all cases of academic dishonesty within the School and report them to the Office of Student Conduct.

4. General Procedures for AI Cases

All charges and sanction requests originate with the instructor. When an instructor suspects academic dishonesty, he or she will notify the student of the suspected infraction as soon as possible. The instructor will set up a meeting to discuss the situation with the student. The instructor may also inform the Chair of the AIC of the concern and may seek the Chair’s guidance. The instructor will set up a meeting to discuss the situation with the student. The school’s ombudsman may be invited to attend the meeting to simply observe. All information about the case is considered confidential.

At the meeting, the instructor will share his or her concerns with the student and together they will discuss the matter. The faculty member may present evidence supporting the suspected infraction and inform the student of the possible sanctions associated with the behavior. The discussion between the instructor and the student is considered confidential.

After the conclusion of the meeting, the instructor will decide either to (i) consider the matter settled or; (ii) proceed with a formal case charging a violation of academic integrity. If the issue is resolved fully to the faculty member’s satisfaction, the case will proceed no further and it is considered closed.

If the faculty member is not satisfied with the outcome of the meeting, he or she will report a formal violation of academic integrity. To proceed with a case, the instructor will fill out, sign, and submit the Academic Integrity Form following the meeting. The Academic Integrity Form is used by the University for the purposes of documenting academic integrity incidents. The instructor should go to the Academic Integrity System and submit the allegation and related documentation. Directions on how to use the system are located here.

After receiving the Academic Integrity Form, the student will have five (5) business days to submit the form with signature indicating whether her or she (i) accepts responsibility for the charges or (ii) contests the charges and sanction. If the student fails to respond or refuses to sign and return the form, it will be interpreted as acceptance of the charges and sanction. In uncontested cases, an instructor may assign academic sanctions not to exceed a failing grade for the course.

If the student signs the form, accepts the charge(s) and the proposed sanction is no greater than a failing grade for the course, then the case is settled. A copy of the completed form is sent to the Chancellor and the form is logged by the Office of Student Conduct Designee. At this point, the case is closed and the Chair of the AIC is notified that the case is closed.

If the student contests the charges, or the proposed sanction is greater than a failing grade for the course, the case goes to the School's Academic Integrity Committee for review.

5. Procedures for Contested AI Cases

In cases in which the student contests the charges, the case is referred to the Academic Integrity Committee (AIC). A hearing is also required when the sanction may create a significant loss to the student such as removal from the program.

5.1. Timing

The review or hearing will occur as soon as possible. It should be no sooner than ten business days after notifying the student and no later than four weeks after submissions of the signed Academic Integrity form.

5.2. Role of the Chair of the AIC

The AIC Chair directs the review of the case, ensures fairness and confidentiality, and executes AI rules and procedures. The Chair will first notify the members of the committee of a pending case and will assemble paperwork for the committee. The Chair will also schedule the hearing and notify the student and the instructor of the date of the hearing. The Chair may also communicate with the instructor and other participants as necessary. The instructor must attend the hearing in person. The student is encouraged to attend in person but may elect not to and submit documentary evidence to the Chair in lieu of attending.

5.3. Review Process

The Committee will normally begin by conducting a review of the paper records. Both the instructor and the student will forward all relevant documentation and evidence to be used in the review to the AIC Chair. The AIC Chair will distribute copies of all materials to the student, instructor, and the members of the AIC. All parties should receive documentation in advance of the hearing for review. The Great Valley Office of Student Conduct Designee will determine if there were previous infractions by the student. If there is a previous record, the case material will be forwarded to the Chair of the AIC. This referral must take place prior to the hearing.

5.4. Hearing of Evidence by the AIC

At the hearing, the instructor will describe the accusation (or in cases where only the sanction is being contested, the rationale for the assigned sanction). The student will be allowed to present evidence. The Committee may question both instructor and student. Both instructor and student may question witnesses and comment on any evidence presented. A written record will be kept of the proceedings, which is deemed confidential.

5.5. Deliberations of the AIC

The AIC will make its decision based on clear and convincing evidence. The committee will examine the evidence and render two decisions. First, the AIC will vote on whether a violation of academic integrity occurred and identify the type of violation. Determination will be made by majority vote. If the AIC fails to find violation, it will notify the instructor that it found no violation, no sanctions will be assessed and the student will receive the grade earned in the course. If the AIC determines that a violation occurred, the AIC will identify the appropriate sanction for the assessed violation and vote on the sanction. A complete list of academic integrity violations and sanctions may be found on the Penn State web site (see next section). The decision of the AIC is final. The instructor may withdraw the charges at any time before the AIC renders its decision (but not after), and only in cases in which the sanction is not greater than a failing grade for the course.

5.6. After the Hearing

The AIC Chair will prepare a summary of the decision accompanied by documentation as necessary, and the confidential report will be sent to the Chancellor. The Chancellor will make his/her recommendation and notify the student of the outcome. The Chancellor will also inform the Great Valley Office of Student Conduct Designee who serves as the official custodian of educational records resulting from the student disciplinary process. The instructor and/or Academic Affairs Designee will update the AI system of the hearing outcome.

5.7. Student Rights

Students have several rights under the Penn State academic integrity policy. The student has the right to:

  • Attend the hearing
  • Present evidence
  • Be accompanied by an adviser (faculty adviser, University personnel, or a currently enrolled student only)
  • Be notified five (5) business days prior to the hearing
  • Question available witnesses
  • Withdraw her/his request for the hearing and accept a sanction at any time prior to the School AI Committee's decision

Parents, spouses, and attorneys may not attend the hearing under any circumstances.

5.8. Grading During the Case Review Period

While the case is pending, the instructor will assign a DF grade to the student and notify the student in writing of the assignment of the DF grade. The student will be informed that a temporary DF grade is assigned until the case is resolved. The student should be encouraged to continue in the class until the conclusion of the process based on a presumption of innocence and the fact if they are found not responsible, they will receive an “earned grade.” The instructor will notify the registrar of the outcome of the case and request assignment of the grade that resulted from the process.

6. Sanctions

A complete list of academic integrity violations and sanctions may be found on the Penn State web site in the document titled, “Sanctioning Guidelines for Academic Integrity Violations.” (https://undergrad.psu.edu/aappm/sanctioning-guidelines.html).

These guidelines and the University’s G-9 policy may be used by the AIC, the Chancellor, and the instructor in its assessments. Although these guidelines are targeted for undergraduate students, they apply equally to graduate students until the university develops guidelines specific to graduate students. Information specific to the application of “XF” grades and their administration can be found under the G-9 policy.

7. Record Keeping

The Office of Student Conduct Designee will house the records to ensure confidentiality, consistency of treatment and to keep a record of the number of offenses. The records will also be submitted in the system to the Office of Student Conduct at Penn State University.