Academic Integrity Policies

This is the time of season when schools rollout academic integrity policies to inform students. If you are one of these schools, please don’t just think of this as a checkoff activity. It’s something that we as educators must continue to address and educate upon for all of our students throughout the year. This blog can give you all the help you need for that!

To get you started, here is a great handout prepared by my colleague and presented to students at my new school. It’s a nice, concise document that covers many of the themes I’ve talked about through the years. Special thanks to Todd Gonzales of Gems American Academy for his hard work in preparing this document. Think of it as a good example and practice what you preach by giving credit to Mr. Gonzales if you use it in your school or classroom.

Academic Honesty Policy

 Our Mission

******* provides a rigorous academic program to our international learning community. As a selective international school, our mission is to inspire, educate, lead and innovate.  In our **** learning community we….

  • Inspire through a well-balanced educational experience that celebrates cultural diversity.
  • Educate through high academic standards, global values and unique approaches to learning.
  • Lead through cutting edge learning tools, environments and experiences.
  • Innovate through creativity, inquiry and a common desire for a better future.


We strive to inspire, educate, lead and innovate within a culture of kindness that promotes success for all.

We believe that:

  • Each student is a unique individual with equal potential to make a positive contribution to our school community.
  • It is important to instill an enthusiasm for life-long learning in each student along with the skills and dispositions necessary to prepare them for the challenges and changes which will be faced in their future.
  • Our students must develop the skills and understandings that will enable them to become responsible, contributing citizens of the global community.
  • Learning and the GAA experience are improved when parents are actively engaged in the learning of their children.


**** is committed to academic honesty and we expect all our students of the secondary school to submit work that is authentic and properly referenced. As a school we encourage principled practice in our students and are committed to providing them with the necessary guidance to be aware of what academic honesty entails.

What is academic honesty?

As defined by the IBO, academic honesty is a principle informed by the attributes of the Learner profile. Academic honesty serves to promote integrity and engender respect of other peoples’ work and ideas.





Academic dishonesty and malpractice:


The definition of academic dishonesty is wide but it covers the following:

  • Plagiarism: taking work, words, ideas, pictures, information or anything that has been produced by someone else and submitting it for assessment as one’s own.
  • Exam cheating: communicating with another candidate in an exam, bringing unauthorized material into an exam room, or consulting such material during an exam in order to gain an unfair advantage.
  • Duplication: submitting work that is substantially the same for assessment in different courses without the consent of all teachers involved.
  • Falsifying data: creating or altering data which have not been collected in an appropriate way.
  • Collusion: helping another student to be academically dishonest by allowing one’s work to be copied by another student and submitted as his/her own.
  • Recycling Fraud: reuse of significantly similar or identical work from oneself without citation or acknowledgement.

Prevention of malpractice:

As a school committed to IBO, we have adapted many ways to prevent malpractice:

  • Student workshops: The Librarian, in collaboration with the IB Coordinator, will provide workshops to the students where students are explained the meaning of plagiarism and are taught ways of preventing it. They will be taught MLA format for appropriate citing of work. ·Teachers and librarians are encouraged to follow closely the research done by the students and guide them in using appropriate research skills that will enable them to analyze the material thus avoiding copying.
  • The Diploma teachers will use the ‘turnitin’ to check all final assignments for academic integrity.
  • The IB Coordinator will work closely with the teachers and librarians to create a timeline for all major assignments and assessments which will be posted on managebac.
  • At the beginning of the grade 11 year, parents will be encouraged to attend an information session on academic honesty.





Procedures for investigating academic dishonesty:

  • The teacher will express concerns about the work that has been handed by the student to the IB Coordinator.
  • Together, they will investigate the matter which will include a discussion with the student and a written statement.
  • after investigation, it is found that the malpractice was not deliberate, the student will be given guidance and support in order to avoid such errors in future followed by a second chance to submit the work.
  • If the investigation reveals intent to engage in academic dishonesty, the work will not be graded, a record will be kept and the parents will be notified. The school reserves the right in such cases to withdraw a student from the IB Diploma Programme.
  • If academic dishonesty is detected in work submitted as internal or external assessment, the work will be retained by the school, the IB will be informed an N Grade will be awarded, thereby barring the award of an IB Diploma. Subject teachers will issue cover sheets for all such assessments that students will sign to acknowledge this consequence.
  • School administration may be involved as needed during the consequence phase.


Students should recognize that they are ultimately responsible for their own work and that the consequences of any breaches of the standard of academic honesty will be theirs alone. They should speak to teachers regularly about their work and show drafts at various stages in the production process. They should ask teachers for advice if they are at any time unsure of what they have done in relation to referencing sources. At GAA, we expect our students to show integrity and develop into principled learners and we do our best to guide them. Any breach of the academic honesty policy will be taken very seriously.

Consequences of academic malpractice:

As a school we recognize the IB stand on malpractice and we will do everything required to avoid this difficult situation. We are aware of the regulations by IB concerning malpractice which states that a student will receive a ‘N’(not graded) in the subject where the malpractice has occurred, subsequently the student will not receive his/her diploma and can re sit for the diploma after 6 months. In more serious cases where there has been breach of the regulations especially during the exams, the IB will deny the student the right to enter any future examination session. (General regulations-28.5-28.8)



Student Academic Honesty Pledge

I, _______________________________________ have read and understood the GAA Academic Honesty Policy for IB Diploma.  I promise to abide by the spirit and the substance of the academic honesty policy as an enquiring and principled student.  I am committed to the highest standards of academic honesty and I understand the seriousness of engaging in academically dishonest practices.  I act at all times with the high standards of integrity expected at GAA and promise to seek guidance from the school in any situation where I am unsure how to proceed in an academically honest manner with my work.




Signed  ………………………………………….. Student                   Date …../……./………..




Signed  ………………………………………….. Parent                     Date …../……./………..



A Review of Anti-Plagiarism Practices

It’s the start of another school year, and the fourth year of! My classes are up and going as I am sure many of yours are. At the start of the year, when things are getting crazy, it is easy to overlook the importance of establishing anti-plagiarism classrooms where academic integrity is a foundational principle. Take the time to do so! It will benefit you in the long run. Here’s a great website with a quick summary of some great practices you can implement in your classrooms:

My favorite tips (some of which I have seen for the first time) are these: Education World: Put an End to Plagiarism in Your Classrooms

  • Don’t simply assign a paper and wait for the final version. Set deadlines for research notes and bibliographies, for outlines, and for rough drafts. Check the work in progress
  • Explain to students that you will check any questionable sources or uncited material. Tell them to keep their notes and printed Web pages until they’ve received their final grades.
  • Require that students submit a signed “letter of transmittal” with their reports. In the letter, have them reflect on the research and writing process and explain what they learned.
  • Avoid assigning general topics for research papers. Papers geared toward narrow topics specific to your own curriculum are less likely to be available online. Make your assigned topics as interesting as possible, so students will be more likely to want to do the work themselves.

Check out the other tips on the website, and, good luck this year in establishing plagiarism-free classes!



Plagiarism Resources for the International Baccalaureate

Many of the teachers that come to this site teach in an International Baccalaureate (or IB) school. The IB has rigorous academic honesty policies for their classes. For example, all IB teachers must sign off on the originality of each of their students work. For this post, I have collected a couple of IB resources that discuss effective practices and principles to utilize in your classrooms to encourage academic honesty. By no means are these documents limited to IB teachers, all teachers should find them useful.





New York Times Plagiarism Education


Here’s a great website I found care of “The Learning Network” from The New York Times:New York Times Learning Network: Plagiarism Education

The site has all sorts of lesson plans, tools, tips, videos, and more that can help you instruct your students about plagiarism. As they put it, “The middle and high school years are an opportunity to shape healthy attitudes in a lower-stakes environment. But for many students, poor habits are formed ahead of college.” This website can help you instruct your middle school and high school students in the good habits of avoiding plagiarism.

Plagiarism Instruction in the MLA Handbook

A great resource for teachers is the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. If you go on to the MLA (Modern Language Association) website, you can email MLA to request a free copy. Besides all the information about MLA formatting and citations (the standard for all Humanities classes), the handbook provides a concise chapter on plagiarism—a clear definition, types of plagiarism, consequences of plagiarism, and tips on how to avoid plagiarism. I have created of the handbook which you can see at the end of this post.

The MLA Handbook’s section on plagiarism is very student friendly, addressing the student directly. I have culled a few insights from the chapter that I think is most helpful for teaching students about plagiarism:

  • Because research has the power to affect opinions and actions, responsible writers compose their work with great care. They specify when they refer to another author’s ideas, facts, and words, whether they want to agree with, object to, or analyze the source. This kind of documentation not only recognizes the work writer do; it also tends to discourage the circulation of error, by inviting readers to determine for themselves whether a reference to another text presents a reasonable account of what that text says. Plagiarists undermine these important public values. (52-53).
  • Plagiarists are often seen as incompetent—incapable of developing and expressing their own thoughts—or worse, dishonest, willing to deceive others for personal gain (53).
  • Student plagiarism does considerable harm. For one thing, it damages teachers’ relationships with students, turning teachers into detectives instead of mentors and fostering suspicion instead of trust. (53).
  • To guard against unintentional plagiarism during research and writing, keep careful notes that always distinguish among three types of material: your ideas, your summaries and paraphrases of others’ ideas and facts, and exact wording you copy from sources. Plagiarism sometimes happens because researchers do not keep precise records of their reading, and by the time thy return to their notes, they have forgotten whether their summaries and paraphrases contain quoted material that is poorly marked or unmarked (55).
  • If you realize after handing a paper in that you accidentally plagiarized an author’s work, you should report the problem to your instructor as soon as possible. In this way you eliminate the element of fraud. You may receive a lower grade than you had hoped for, but getting a lower grade is better than failing a course or being expelled (56).
  • If you have any doubt about whether or not you are committing plagiarism, cite your source or sources (59).

Besides these insights, the sections on “Forms of Plagiarism” (56-58) and “Summing Up” are also great for students. Check out the PDF file below and consider sharing these two sections with your students.



MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed. (New York: Modern

Language Association of America, 2009).



Now What?!: How to Reform a Plagiarizer

For my last post, I discussed the meeting with my student who had been caught plagiarizing. So, you’ve caught a student plagiarizing, now what. How can you follow through with the consequences while maintaining your responsibility as a teacher to help them learn from their mistake? The purpose of the consequences is rehabilitation. Turn the cheater into a conscientious writer who, hopefully, will not make the mistake of plagiarizing again. Below are a few of the extra steps I take with students who cheat.

  • Failing grade for the assignment that they will have to make up over one of their breaks (Fall, Winter, Spring) with the inability to score higher than a 75%.
  • If the assignment is a final assessment, then a failing grade for the unit/semester/course.
  • The student will handwrite the next two assessments in my presence and only in my presence. Thus, if they have to spend extra time at school, then they must make the arrangements.
  • This can be a pain for some teachers, but let the student know that they must work around your schedule. They made the choice to plagiarize. They must take the responsibility to fix it.
  • The student must write a letter to parents and administration—that will be shared only with them—explaining their choice to cheat and how they are going to make it up to the class.

These are just a few idea. There are lots of teachers on this site each week. PLEASE, give us your ideas.

Caught Red Handed: Meeting with a Student Who Plagiarized

This week, a student (let’s call him Student P) plagiarized his final essay. The student has been in my class for an entire year. He has completed the various plagiarism education assignments I implement in my classes—the plagiarism poster assignment, the plagiarism tutorial, the student training program. He even wears one of my stop plagiarism bracelets. Yet, he still decided to plagiarize. Student P submitted is paper to me through The paper came back with a 70% similarity rating. Student P used one website to copy and paste his words with a few changes here and there, what I refer to as patchwork plagiarism.


Now, I have to talk with him about his assessment. I am frustrated with Student P. I am frustrated with him because I focus so much on plagiarism in my courses, yet he still hasn’t learned. I want to yell at him and call him out as a cheater, yet I can’t and won’t do that as a teacher. This got me to thinking—how should a teacher approach these kinds of talks? What do they say to the student?


First, I think any respectable school and teacher needs to have a plagiarism section in their handbook which defines plagiarism, the process for addressing plagiarism issues, and clear consequences for the first and each successive act. Luckily, we have one that I wrote for the handbook. I will show Student P the handbook and let him know the consequences for his act—failing the assignment, repeating the work, and keeping his work on file for a year. If he commits the act again, he will be eligible for suspension and expulsion. Second, I will walk him through his paper which I have printed out for the meeting. I will show him why this paper is plagiarism and why it is unacceptable to turn in as his own work. Third, I will have him complete the plagiarism tutorial again (see post “Plagiarism Tutorial”).  Fourth, I will have him write a letter to his parents letting them know his actions, why they were wrong, what plagiarism is, and how he will avoid it in the future.


What else could I say or do? I thought it would be helpful to look up a few tools online to give me more tips. I didn’t really find much except bits of advice. Most was almost entirely useless. However, Professor Nate Kreuter of Western Carolina University wrote a piece for “Inside Higher Ed” that is very helpful. Here’s the relevant part:

I cannot see the value in confronting a student about the possibility of plagiarism without tangible evidence suggesting the wrongdoing. Even if a case of dishonesty does exist in such a situation, it is unverifiable and I know of no honor system or academic integrity code that allows an instructor or college to assess a penalty for academic dishonesty in the absence of evidence.

For some reason, some instructors have a tendency to take instances of academic dishonesty extremely personally. While I am not in any way trying to excuse academic dishonesty, nor suggesting that we turn a blind eye to it, I do feel that the individual reactions of instructors are sometimes out of proportion, even inappropriate. We make a mistake when we are personally offended by a student’s act of academic dishonesty.

Certainly the problem must be dealt with, but we must resist the immediate, knee-jerk impulse to personalize the issue. Students didn’t cheat or plagiarize to “get” you — they did it out of laziness or fear or ignorance, and I can assure you that “pulling one over” was only their objective insofar as the student thought it would help to shortcut work or secure a high grade. Taking the episode personally only potentially escalates the situation and confuses what is at stake, which is academic and intellectual integrity, not an instructor’s hurt feelings.

It makes perfect sense that we would react strongly, and possibly even overreact, to cases of suspected or actual academic dishonesty: academic dishonesty, whether committed intentionally or through some form of negligent ignorance, threatens the principles upon which academic disciplines and knowledge building are founded. Our own research and scholarship is predicated upon assumptions of honesty and integrity, and when peers in our profession violate this assumed virtues it can call into question entire lines of research throughout a discipline.

At least when it comes to writing classes, which are what I teach at the undergraduate level, cheating tends to come out in the wash.  A plagiarized paper is unlikely to respond directly enough to the writing prompt to merit a high grade. So, rather than bending over backwards to make a plagiarism case when something is suspicious, I do a quick Google of a few of the suspect phrases. If nothing turns up, I simply proceed with grading, with full confidence that plagiarized papers rarely directly address my prompts, and that Fs are Fs.

When you do catch a verifiable case of plagiarism, I think it’s essential, both for your own protection and the protection of the student, to follow through on your university’s policies for documenting and dealing with those situations. We do students no favors by turning a blind eye to verifiable cases of dishonesty, nor any favors for our departments, universities, or higher education writ large. At the same time though, students should be trusted until they engage in an action that warrants losing the instructor’s trust. Only by treating students as adults (which many of them already are in the legal sense, even if not necessarily in all senses) can students become adults. That means holding students accountable for their work, for their honesty or dishonesty. It also means approaching student work with an attitude less cynical than immediate suspicion (

Here’s the take away from Professor Kreuter:

1) Have airtight evidence of plagiarism before the student meeting.

2) Don’t take the student’s plagiarism personally (great advice!).

3) Follow through on the school plagiarism policy.

Our Plagiarism Campaign at the International School of Sarajevo

This week, my students and I completed a two minute video grant proposal detailing how our school is tackling the worldwide problem of plagiarism. Our campaign focuses on awareness, prevention, and education. We teach students what plagiarism is, create a learning environment that decreases students’ ability to get away with plagiarism, and educate them on how to avoid committing plagiarism.  Next week, I will focus on more tools to help teachers with these exact issues. Specifically, I hope to detail a great book, The Little Book on Plagiarism. Until then, check out our video:

(Note: The video is supposed to be a little whimsical so don’t assume we don’t take plagiarism very seriously!)

School Plagiarism Policies

This week, I rewrote our school handbooks plagiarism policy. Rewriting the policy gave me some time to think about how to describe plagiarism, its consequences, and how to avoid it succinctly.  Below is the rewritten policy. What do you think can be improved upon? Does your school have a detailed plagiarism policy in the school handbook? If so, does it look like mine, or is it something different?


In 2010, a business professor at Rutgers University, Donald McCabe, completed a survey of 14,000 university students.  The students were asked if they had ever copied sentences into their papers from outside sources without giving credit to those sources. Forty percent of those students admitted to copying others work and claiming it as their own (  The survey, issued though the Center for Academic Integrity, matched other surveys given around the world that all revealed similar data. Cheating on papers is a rampant issue in schools.  This form of cheating, known as plagiarism, is a serious problem.

One of the worst decisions a student can make is the decision to plagiarize their homework, class work, or class assessments. At QSIS, students are taught that the act of plagiarism is an act with serious consequences.

Plagiarism is defined in Webster’s New World Dictionary as “[the stealing] or [passing off] as one’s own, the ideas, writings, etc. of another.” Plagiarism is academic dishonesty; it is cheating. Examples of plagiarism are, but are not limited to:

  • Copying specific ideas of an individual author or source; or copying large portions of exact words from any source without both giving proper citation and using quotation marks;
  • Paraphrasing (re-writing using different words) or summarizing (completely re-writing a passage or section) another person’s unique and non-common-knowledge ideas found in any source, without giving proper citation;
  • Downloading or purchasing papers, copying and pasting information from the Internet or electronic sources;
  • Cutting and pasting from any source without citation;
  • Intentionally making other people’s ideas appear to be your own by any means.”

According to researchers at Penn State University, plagiarism is wrong because “when you commit plagiarism, you hurt yourself and the community in the following ways: 1)You deny yourself the opportunity to learn and practice skills that may be needed in your future careers; 2) You invite teachers to question your integrity and performance in general; 3)You commit fraud on teachers who are evaluating your work; 4)You deprive another author due credit for his or her work; and, 5)You show disrespect for your peers who have done their own work” (see

Because all violations of Academic Integrity strike at the very core of the nature of the school, the response to plagiarism and cheating is extreme, including the possibility of redoing all outcomes of that course, failing the assignment and/or unit, becoming ineligible to participate in extra-curricular clubs and sports (e. g., Model United Nations, National Honor Society, Roots and Shoots, Student Council). If you are a Secondary 4 student, you may also be required to write a letter to universities explaining your actions.

Because there are different degrees of plagiarism, each act of plagiarism and the appropriate response to the act will be discussed with the teacher of the class, a member of the administration, and another faculty member. The student will then be notified by their teacher about the response. The act of plagiarism by the student will be kept on file for one year. Should the student commit further acts of plagiarism, the consequences will become more severe.

If you have any questions about plagiarism, helping your students avoid plagiarism, or plagiarism checking tools, please contact QSIS.