Dean's Letter on Academic Integrity
Falsehood is easy, truth so difficult.
This letter explains my views on the topic of academic integrity. The CSU Long Beach academic purpose is to graduate students with highly-valued degrees.2 In the CBA, our faculty members work hard to offer courses that are relevant, timely, and practical. They take their educational responsibilities seriously and in turn expect CBA students to be diligent and responsible about their role in this process. It will be impossible to achieve either CSU Long Beach’s goals or our faculty’s expectations without a high degree of academic integrity.
Integrity is intertwined with honesty and wrapped up in truth. From the American Heritage Dictionary, truth is conformity to fact or actuality; honesty is being honest (i.e., not deceptive or fraudulent), with integrity, truthfulness, and sincerity; and integrity is being unimpaired, with soundness and completeness.
Simply put, academic integrity means that each student be honest and truthful in their studies by taking credit for only their own work. Paraphrasing George Eliot above, maintaining academic integrity is not easy. CBA students have full plates: they take courses during the day and the evening, typically work either part time or full time, participate in group projects in many classes, and often engage in student clubs outside of class. Students also compete with each other for grades on exams and assignments. The stress and pressure of full, active lives can sometimes lead to taking short cuts that compromise academic integrity because of the lack of time or the desire to get top grades—or due to undesirable qualities such as laziness or dishonesty.
My main message to each student is to always take the high road: do your best and take the responsibility to do your part in classes and teamwork, no matter what grade you receive. I’m sure each student has heard some faculty member say that what is learned is much more important than what grade is achieved. After decades as a Finance Professor who has observed the behavior of thousands of students, I believe this more than ever. The gains of academic dishonesty are short term and superficial while the gains of true learning are long term and deep.
Charles Lipton, Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago, eloquently captures the essence of academic integrity:
"Honesty is important for its own sake—it should be a central pillar of your character—and it's vital for your education. You can't learn how to write if you simply download your papers from the Internet. You can't learn calculus if you copy your problem sets from a friend or an answer book. You can't learn French or computer programming if you don't complete the assignments yourself… Even your mistakes can be valuable (and, believe me, we all make them). They'll show you and your teachers where you need more help and more practice. Correcting your missteps is a vital part of learning. That's as true in Spanish as it is in sociology or biology. Cheating denies you all that. It denies you a chance to learn. Even if you aren't caught (and you may well be!), you'll still miss what is most valuable about college: getting a real education. The only way to get that education is to work honestly. It's the high road to developing your own best values, too."3
Professor Lipton offers three core principles for honest work. When you: 1) say you did the work yourself, you actually did it; 2) rely on others’ work or use their words, you quote them openly and accurately, and cite them; 3) present research materials that involve data, documents, or the writings of other scholars, you present them fairly and truthfully.
We are all in this together: if CSU Long Beach degrees are to be highly valued, then the integrity of our educational process cannot be questioned. I will work with the faculty to assure high standards of excellence and quality on their part. Students in turn will be expected to approach their education with truthfulness, honesty, and integrity. If we all do our parts, then at the end of the day, we will know that we have done our best—and the whole world will be able to rely on our quality and integrity.
Details of the CSU Long Beach Policy on Plagiarism and Cheating
This section of my letter provides some details about academic dishonesty at CSU Long Beach and contains excerpts from the policy recommended by the Academic Senate on December 5, 1985.4
Plagiarism is defined as the act of using the ideas or work of another person or persons as if they were one's own, without giving credit to the source. Such an act is not plagiarism if it is ascertained that the ideas were arrived at through independent reasoning or logic or where the thought or idea is common knowledge. Acknowledgement of an original author or source must be made through appropriate references, i.e., quotation marks, footnotes, or commentary.
Examples of plagiarism include, but are not limited to: the submission of a work, either in part or in whole, completed by another; failure to give credit for ideas, statements, facts or conclusions which rightfully belong to another; in written work, failure to use quotation marks when quoting directly from another, whether it be a paragraph, a sentence, or even a part thereof; close and lengthy paraphrasing of another writing.
Students are cautioned that, in conducting their research, they should prepare their notes by (a) either quoting material exactly (using quotation marks) at the time they take notes from a source; or (b) departing completely from the language used in the source, putting the material into their own words. In this way, when the material is used in the paper or project, the student can avoid plagiarism resulting from verbatim use of notes. Both quoted and paraphrased materials must be given proper citations.
Cheating is defined as the act of obtaining or attempting to obtain or aiding another to obtain academic credit for work by the use of any dishonest, deceptive or fraudulent means. Examples of cheating during an examination would include, but not be limited to the following: copying, either in part or in whole, from another test or examination; discussion of answers or ideas relating to the answers on an examination or test unless such discussion is specifically authorized by the instructor; giving or receiving copies of an exam without the permission of the instructor; using or displaying notes; "cheat sheets," or other information or devices inappropriate to the prescribed test conditions, as when the test of competence includes a test of unassisted recall of information, skill, or procedure; allowing someone other than the officially enrolled student to represent the same.
It is often appropriate for students to study together or to work in teams on projects. However, such students should be careful to avoid use of unauthorized assistance, and to avoid any implication of cheating, by such means as sitting apart from one another in examinations, presenting the work in a manner which clearly indicates the effort of each individual, or such other method as is appropriate to the particular course.
Additional Thoughts About Expectations of Student Behavior
My predecessors also laid out their thoughts on academic integrity, and the following presents some of their ideas about student behavior. As I noted at the beginning of this letter, CBA faculty have high expectations about the performance of students in their classes. The following provides some guidance on day-to-day behavior that students can apply to meet faculty expectations.5
A. Preparation for Class
With regard to coming prepared for class, the principles of academic integrity suggest that you have a responsibility to yourself, to your professor, and to the other students to do the things necessary to put yourself in a position to make fruitful contributions to class discussion:
- Finish assigned reading before coming to class
- Formulate questions that can be asked in class that will increase and clarify your understanding
- Reflect on the issues raised in the assigned reading
B. Behavior In Class
With regard to class sessions, the principles of academic integrity require you to take both your professor and your fellow students seriously and to treat them with respect:
- Attend all class sessions
- Come to class on time and not leave early
- Be engaged in the lecture and class discussion
- Ask questions about anything you don't understand (other students might not realize that they also don't understand, also)
- Participate in the class discussions to contribute your thinking to the shared effort
- Monitor your own participation so as to allow for and encourage the participation of others
- Respect other students by not making fun of them or their ideas, and by not holding side-conversations that detract from the class discussion
- Turn off cell phones before class or set on vibrate
- Use laptop computers for note taking purposes only, not to search the Internet or to read email.
C. Written Assignments
With regard to written assignments, the principles of academic integrity suggest that you:
- Start your research and writing early enough to ensure that you have the time you need to do your best work
- Turn in a paper which you yourself have done specifically for this course and not borrowed from someone else or recycled from an earlier course
- Do not be satisfied with a paper that is less than your best work
- Seek only appropriate help from others (such as proof-reading, or discussing your ideas with someone else to gain clarity in your thinking)
- Give full and proper credit to your sources
Michael E. Solt
Dean of the College of Business Administration
1 The quote by George Eliot, the pen name of 19th Century English author Mary Anne Evans, is taken from the Wisdom.com web page entry for truth.
2 According to its mission statement, CSU Long Beach is a diverse, student-centered, globally-engaged public university committed to providing highly-valued undergraduate and graduate educational opportunities through superior teaching, research, creative activity and service for the people of California and the world.
5 This section draws on a letter prepared by William M. Taylor, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Oakton Community College, Des Plaines, Illinois. Professor Taylor granted the previous Deans his permission to modify his letter in order to promote academic integrity.