Student Handbook - Academic Dishonesty and the Academic Honor Code Skip Navigation


In the spring term 1999, Colgate University approved a new Academic Honor Code that went into effect in the Fall term, 2000. The Academic Honor Code itself is printed below, and all Colgate students are expected to be familiar with the Code and abide by it. At the time of matriculation all students are required to read and sign the Academic Honor Code. For a more extensive discussion of academic dishonesty, refer to The Colgate University Academic Honor Code. Students are provided with a copy of this booklet at the start of their first year at Colgate. Additional copies may be obtained from the Office of the Dean of the College in McGregory Hall.

The Academic Honor Code

At Colgate University, we believe honesty and integrity are fundamental in a community dedicated to learning, personal development, and a search for understanding. We revere these values and hold them essential in promoting personal responsibility, moral and intellectual leadership, and pride in ourselves and our University.

As Colgate students, we will represent ourselves truthfully, claim only work that is our own, and engage honestly in all academic assignments.

Since articulated standards and expectations can influence attitudes, and because each of us shares the responsibility for maintaining academic integrity, we are committed to upholding the Academic Honor Code.

Academic Honor Pledge

As a member of the Colgate community, I pledge to live by and to support the letter and spirit of Colgate’s Academic Honor Code.

Reporting Procedures

Members of the Colgate community who misrepresent themselves or their work, through cheating, fabrication, facilitation, or plagiarism, or who suspect another of such misrepresentation are expected to follow the reporting procedures outlined.

Consistent with the basic expectations of the Academic Honor Code, students who believe they may have violated Colgate’s standards of academic integrity are expected to acknowledge their concerns to the instructor in the class or to their academic or administrative dean.

A student who observes what may be academically dishonest behavior on the part of another student is expected to share that concern with the other student in a timely fashion. If the observer and the other student determine that no violation of the Academic Honor Code has occurred, no further action is required. However, if either student believes that an Academic Honor code violation may have occurred, the student observed is expected to self-report the incident immediately to the instructor in the class or to his or her academic or administrative dean. Self-reporting does not constitute an admission of guilt but is an essential step, necessary to prevent misunderstanding and apprehensions. Within three class days, the observer will also contact the associate dean for administrative advising to insure that the self-report has indeed taken place.

The instructor will review the elements of the complaint, and if the instructor believes that the Academic Honor Code has been violated, he or she will contact the university disciplinary officer, who will convene a University Student Conduct Board hearing as outlined in the Student Handbook.

Definitions of Academic Dishonesty and Avoiding Academic Dishonesty

General Definition Briefly stated, Colgate University defines academic dishonesty as any attempt to misrepresent one’s performance on any academic exercise submitted for evaluation. Departments, at their option, may further clarify this general definition in writing (and distribute this clarification in courses in that department), and a violation of the Department’s statement shall be considered a violation of the academic dishonesty policy of the University as a whole. In any situation where a student questions the appropriateness of representing a work as his or her own, it will be the student’s responsibility to raise the question with the instructor. Ignorance of University policy concerning academic dishonesty shall not be a defense in any Conduct Board proceeding.

Forms of Academic Dishonesty

Colgate University recognizes four forms of academic dishonesty: Cheating, Fabrication (of data or sources), Facilitating Academic Dishonesty, and Plagiarism. The full definitions of these forms of academic dishonesty are listed below. All students are urged to read these definitions carefully to gain a complete understanding of behavior that the university considers academically dishonest. Ignorance of the definitions will not be seen as a defense in University Conduct Board proceedings.


Cheating shall be defined as attempting to use prohibited materials, information, or study aids in any academic exercise. To prevent possible claims of cheating, there should be strict adherence to the following guidelines:

  1. Faculty members should state, in advance, their policies and procedures concerning examinations and other academic exercises. Students should request such information if a faculty member neglects to offer it.
  2. It is especially important that clear guidelines be established and followed concerning the use of “take home” examinations.
  3. Students completing an “in class” or “take home” examination should assume that any external assistance (e.g., books, notes, calculators, conversations with others) is prohibited unless specifically authorized by the instructor.
  4. Substantial portions of the same academic work may not be submitted for credit or honors more than once without the permission of the instructor(s).
  5. Students must not allow others to conduct research or prepare any work for them without advance authorization from the instructor. This comment includes, but is not restricted to, commercial term paper companies and files of past papers.


Fabrication shall be defined as the attempt to falsify or invent without authorization any information or citation in an academic exercise. To prevent possible claims of fabrication, there should be strict adherence to the following guidelines:
  1. “Invented” information may not be used in any laboratory experiment or other academic exercise without notice to and authorization from the instructor. It would be improper, for example, to analyze one sample in an experiment and covertly “invent” data based on that single experiment for several more required analyses.
  2. A student should acknowledge the actual source from which he or she obtains cited information. For example, a writer should not reproduce a quotation found in a book review and indicate that the quotation was obtained from the book itself.

Facilitating Academic Dishonesty

Facilitating Academic Dishonesty shall be defined as attempting to help another to commit an act of academic dishonesty. For example, if a student gives another student a specific answer to a homework assignment and knows that such assistance was either prohibited or would not be acknowledged, he or she is facilitating academic dishonesty.


Plagiarism Is the act of using another person’s work without clearly acknowledging your debt to the original source. This includes the borrowing of words, ideas, images, tables, charts, etc., from books, articles, web pages, interviews, television shows, films, songs, or any other medium.

To avoid plagiarizing, always provide a specific citation to the original source in each instance in which you have borrowed from another’s work. In addition, always use quotation marks or indented block quotations when phrases or sentences are borrowed directly, and put summaries and paraphrases in your own words (because merely rearranging someone else’s words in order to avoid using quotation marks is neither honest nor good scholarship).

Students should always consult with their professor if they have questions about proper scholarly procedures or what might constitute plagiarism on a particular assignment.

Colgate expects all students to understand what plagiarism is and to produce work that is both honest and meets the high standards expected for scholarly discourse. Ignorance is not an excuse; any failure to acknowledge sources properly constitutes plagiarism. Nevertheless, plagiarism in an assignment may vary in extent — ranging from an isolated instance to being pervasive throughout an assignment — and in intent — ranging from some level of disregard for proper scholarly procedures to a clear and obvious intent to deceive.

Colgate’s procedures for handling cases of plagiarism and sanctions depend on the nature of the offense. Instances of plagiarism that are less serious are normally handled directly by the faculty member for the course with a penalty in the form of an appropriate grade reduction on the particular assignment. In such cases, faculty must turn in a form, signed by the student, which remains on file in the Office of the Dean of the College through the student’s career at Colgate and is used to inform decisions on any later complaints of academic dishonesty against the student. Students who are dissatisfied with the resolution proposed by the faculty member may choose to exercise their right to a conduct board hearing. Cases where plagiarism in an assignment is egregious or where it seems likely that the student’s work provides evidence of academic dishonesty — in particular, an intent to deceive — are referred to the University Student Conduct Board for a hearing. The usual standard is that if a student makes no obvious attempt to provide a citation or source for any significant borrowed material, then there is a presumption that the student has committed an act of academic dishonesty. If the Board determines that the nature of the plagiarism in the assignment and the evidence presented in the hearing warrant a finding of academic dishonesty, then the minimum penalty will be failure in the course and either warning or probation. If the Board determines that plagiarism has occurred but that the plagiarism does not constitute academic dishonesty, then the penalty in first-offense cases will be warning. If a warning is issued, then the faculty member will determine the appropriate penalty for the particular assignment. In the event that the conduct board finds the student not responsible, i.e., that plagiarism has not occurred, then the faculty member will grade the assignment without imposing any penalty.

Avoiding Academic Dishonesty

At Colgate University, academic honesty is assumed to be the norm, and there is no evidence that acts of academic dishonesty are commonplace. Nevertheless, in recognition of the importance the Academic Honor Code places on academic integrity, University Student Conduct Board penalties for infractions are severe. The community has high standards in this area, and students must be careful to avoid all forms of academic dishonesty. Acts of academic dishonesty can be avoided by: (a) Knowing the definitions of the forms of academic dishonesty recognized and (b) Avoiding these dishonest behaviors scrupulously. Any questions concerning the standards or requirements in a course should be referred to the professor to whom the work will be submitted. Careful planning and skillful time management will also help a student avoid instances of academic dishonesty as experience has shown that most acts of plagiarism, cheating, etc. occur when a student runs out of time to properly prepare an assignment or study for an examination or quiz. In some cases, extensions (with or without a grade penalty) may be arranged, but in all cases, it is better to fail an assignment rather than risk the serious disciplinary consequences of an academic dishonesty infraction. When time has run out, and a student does not believe he or she will be able to meet an academic deadline, a meeting with the instructor in the course and/or the administrative dean is in order to consider viable options.

A special note about the use of computers: The vast majority of Colgate students use computers in researching and preparing papers, take home examinations and other written assignments, and in recent years, many academic dishonesty cases have had a computer-related aspect that the University Student Conduct Board has been asked to consider. Advances in information technology make it extremely easy to download and manipulate files, articles and even whole manuscripts from other sources, and students suspected of academic dishonesty have occasionally sought to blame the computer for acts of dishonesty. Students are reminded that a concern about academic dishonesty will be based on what the student submits for evaluation and not how the assignment was prepared. Claims that: “The computer printed out my notes (or first draft) and not my final paper” (or) “I wrote my footnotes into the memory of the computer and the computer forgot to record the footnotes as I went along” (or) “A friend printed out my paper and submitted it for me, but he got the wrong paper off my disk” or similar explanations will not excuse acts of academic dishonesty. Computers are wonderful aids in writing academic assignments, but one must be especially careful in using them to adhere strictly to Colgate’s standards of academic integrity.