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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

CICS Academic Honesty

Academic Integrity

"Honesty is the foundation of good academic work."
-- Academic Integrity at MIT

Academic integrity means: 

  • to be honest and fair in your studies,
  • to be forthright about the effort you are putting into your work,
  • to respect others’ contributions,
  • to value your own contributions.

The best way to demonstrate academic integrity is to attribute your sources or your influences. This includes those ideas, pieces of writing, or pieces of code that you use to build your own ideas, writing, or code. When you do this, it not only demonstrates that you have done work and put in effort required of you, but it also highlights your own original contributions.

In an academic computer science setting much of this depends on context. Here, the emphasis is on learning. Therefore, collaboration may be permissible, but copying from external sources may not be. Always check with your instructor on their collaboration policy and expectations around completion of assignments before you begin working on an assignment. 

How Academic Dishonest is defined at UMass

Academic DIShonesty at UMass Amherst is defined as

  • Cheating
    • copying answers from another student
    • collaborating with others on homework, lab reports, computer programs, or other academic assignments without the permission of the instructor
  • Fabrication
  • Plagiarism
    • Representing the words, work, or ideas of another person as your own
      • failing to quote exact wording
      • failing to cite or attribute your sources
      • submitting others' work as your own
  • Facilitating Dishonesty

University of Massachusetts of Amherst Academic Honesty Policy, Sen. Doc. No. 16-038A.


Below are some examples of language from Academic Honesty statements from CICS syllabi.  They are not CICS policy, but are examples of how different instructors approach academic integrity in their courses.

Each example addresses academic dishonesty in different ways, so it is important to always familiarize yourself with your instructors' expectations. What is common among them is the emphasis on learning and the expectation that you submit your own original work and are familiar with the Academic Honesty policies and procedures of the University. 

  • You must do all assignments, and exams by yourself unless teams are explicitly noted as permitted for programming assignments and are declared beforehand. You may discuss the interpretation of a question with a classmate, and we recommend using public posts on the class discussion forum for that, but you must deduce and write up your own solution. Borrowing solutions or hints from others or lending them yours is academic dishonesty. If you are having trouble with any assignment or need more time for university-approved reasons, please talk to the instructors as early as possible.
  • If caught violating the problem set or quiz rules, students will receive a 0% on the assignment for the first violation, and fail the class for a second violation. Any cheating on the midterm or final will lead to failing the class. For fairness, we apply these rules universally, without exceptions.
  • You may discuss assignments with other students - in fact we encourage this as a learning experience. But what you turn in must be your work. Copying is not allowed, and collaboration so close that it looks like copying is not allowed. Remember to tell us who you worked with as well.  We do employ tools such as similarity checkers, and be aware, they are not easily fooled!... Assignments are designed to apply and test your knowledge and understanding of the material. Plagiarism and academic honesty of any sort may seem like an easy way to solve an immediate problem (which it is not), however, it can have a substantial negative impact on your career as a computer science student. 
  • If you have questions or are unsure if something constitutes plagiarism, please reach out to us.  A good rule of thumb to avoid plagiarism is: don’t leave a meeting with other students/helpers (except course instructors) with anything written down (in whatever form) that you did not have when you entered the meeting. That way the learning is in your brain.
  • It is a violation of policy of the College of Information and Computer Sciences, and of this course, to post answers, code, etc., in public places that might facilitate someone else’s copying them. Such violations are treated under the Academic Honesty Policy.