Academic Honesty

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As members of the academic community, students have a responsibility to conduct themselves with the highest standards of honesty and integrity.  These qualities are also vital to the profession of engineering.  Violations of academic ethics tarnish the reputation of all students and will be treated with the utmost seriousness.  CU-Boulder’s Student Honor Code Policy may be found at

Be forewarned and discourage your fellow students from participating in any unethical activities.  The following are examples of some, but certainly not all, acts that violate academic ethics and may be brought before the Student Honor Code:

  • plagiarism (one person uses the ideas or words of another person and presents them as his/her own);
  • cheating;
  • knowingly furnishing false information;
  • possession of or observation of examinations or solutions to examinations prior to the exam;
  • any alteration, forgery, or falsification of official record data or research;
  • bribery;
  • performing work or taking an examination for another student;
  • threatening another student, faculty, or staff member about an academic action or sanction;
  • knowingly to aid and abet, either directly or indirectly, other persons in committing dishonest acts.

To represent your due process as a student, you should be aware of the specific policy and procedures set forth by the Student Honor Code at  The procedures are defined for the typical context of a course where the instructor alleges unethical behavior of a student in the course.  However, violations of ethics may be observed and reported by any university student, faculty, or staff member.

If an instructor imposes an academic sanction on the student, the instructor’s options include (but are not limited to):

  • assigning a final grade of F in the course; or
  • lowering the student’s grade in the course; or
  • lowering the student’s grade in the activity where the act of dishonesty was observed; or
  • no sanction.

When a matter of academic integrity is in process or under review at any level, and the matter extends beyond the semester of the course where the alleged incident occurred, an instructor may choose to issue a temporary grade of Incomplete (I) for the student in question.  The Incomplete (I) grade would then be modified at the conclusion of the Honor Code investigation and process.

Where it is determined that the violation of academic ethics may include aspects that go beyond the academic, e.g., criminal acts such as breaking and entering, theft, or vandalism, the Office of Student Conduct or University Police may be informed and may take additional actions.

Second Offenses

As a strong proponent of academic and personal integrity in its students, the College of Engineering and Applied Science takes very seriously a student’s second offense of academic dishonesty.  The college strongly recommends to the Honor Code Council that engineering students be suspended should they be found responsible for a second offense.

Basic Tips on Avoiding Claims of Academic Dishonesty

  • When taking an examination, shield your answer sheet and do not look around during the exam.  If you feel that someone is attempting to copy your work, request to be re-seated.  Do not take materials into the examination that are not specifically approved by the instructor.
  • Clarify with your instructor the amount of collaboration that is allowed in the class, especially on homeworks, projects, computer programs, and papers.
  • Protect your computer login identification and passwords.  It is risky to electronically copy or transmit a computer file or program to other students; if others submit your work as theirs, you are likely to be charged with academic dishonesty.  Do not leave copies of your work in a computer lab and do not leave your work on an unattended computer.
  • Do not share your current or prior assignments, papers, projects with other students; this work may be resubmitted and you may be linked to other charges of academic dishonesty.
  • Do not purchase research papers, notes or projects from companies or “research services”.  There are computer tools that the faculty can use that will track your work back to others – this is plagiarism.  It is best to have a pre-approved paper topic and submit an outline and draft for review by your instructor.  Keep all drafts of your work on paper to demonstrate your work.  Keep all prior papers once they have been graded, and do not loan these papers out to other students.  Always inform an instructor when you are submitting a paper in their class when that paper, or a very similar paper, has been submitted in another course.
  • When preparing any paper or report, use quotation marks whenever you are citing or using the ideas of others and do not “pad” your bibliography (reference list) if you have not directly used these sources.
  • Meet with an Engineering Librarian (, who can advise on sound research methods, how to cite papers, avoid plagiarism, etc.

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