VI. ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: POLICIES & PROCEDURES
VI.A. Definition of Academic Integrity
The International Center for Academic Integrity, of which Georgetown University is a member, defines academic integrity as “a commitment, even in the face of adversity, to six fundamental values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage.” A PDF copy of a booklet prepared by the Center, The Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity, can be downloaded free of charge at this link: https://academicintegrity.org/fundamental-values
These values form the bedrock of all scholarship. Students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences are expected to be guided by these values and to maintain the highest standards of academic integrity in pursuit of their educational goals.
VI.B. Responsibility for Academic Integrity
All graduate students are responsible for educating themselves about the proper practices for conducting scholarly work and procedures for documentation in their field of study. Documentation procedures are outlined in a number of standard guides, most of which can be found in Lauinger and Dahlgren libraries. However, since methods vary among different disciplines, students should seek guidance from their department or program about proper and improper approaches to scholarly documentation. Specific questions about which references need to be documented and how attribution should be made may be directed to the course professor, the thesis advisor, or the Director of Graduate Studies.
Faculty have a special responsibility to mentor graduate students in the standards of academic integrity appropriate to their disciplines. The Graduate School urges faculty to take appropriate opportunities to teach standards of academic integrity and techniques of scholarly documentation, and to report to the Dean suspected cases of academic misconduct.
VI.C. Violations of Academic Integrity: Academic Misconduct
Academic misconduct is any action or failure to act that violates the six principles listed above. Academic misconduct may include, but is not limited to, the following:
- Unacknowledged paraphrase
- Fabrication of data
- Fabrication, alteration, or misrepresentation of academic records
- Facilitating academic dishonesty
- Unauthorized collaboration
- Misuse of otherwise valid academic work
- Misuse of academic resources
- Depriving others of equal access to academic resources
Plagiarism is the presentation of someone else’s ideas, writings, or statements as one’s own. Plagiarism is a serious breach of academic integrity, and anyone who is found to have committed plagiarism will be subject to disciplinary action.
Paraphrase is the act of putting someone else’s ideas into one’s own words. The use of paraphrase can be an acceptable practice under some circumstances if it is used sparingly and if the original text is properly acknowledged. Unacknowledged paraphrase, like plagiarism, is a serious breach of academic integrity
Any improper use of sources may constitute plagiarism. Every quotation from another source, whether written, spoken, or electronic, must be bound by quotation marks and be properly cited. Mere citation alone is not sufficient when a scholar has used another person’s words. Similarly, every paraphrase or summary (a more concise restatement of another's ideas) must be properly cited. A bibliographic entry alone is not sufficient to avoid the imputation of plagiarism for unacknowledged paraphrase or summary of another person’s ideas.
Cheating is the use or attempted use of unauthorized materials, information, or study aids in in-class examinations, take-home examinations, or other academic exercises.
Fabrication of data is the falsification or invention of data, research results, citations, or any other information used in examinations, papers, experiments, or other academic exercises.
Fabrication, alteration, or misrepresentation of academic records includes, but is not limited to, the falsification or invention of such records as resumes and CVs, transcripts, letters of recommendation, grade reports, and examination report forms.
Facilitating academic dishonesty is the assistance or attempted assistance of another to commit an act of academic dishonesty.
Unauthorized collaboration is a form of academic misconduct. Unless the responsible faculty member has explicitly authorized students to work collaboratively on a particular project, all academic work must be the student’s own. Students who participate in joint projects or collaborative exercises are expected to make themselves aware of and to adhere to their instructor's expectations for individual contributions to the joint effort as well as any purely individual work to be prepared and submitted for assessment.
Misrepresentation or misuse of otherwise valid academic work is a form of academic misconduct. For example, a paper submitted to satisfy the requirements for one course may not be submitted to satisfy a requirement for a second course without explicit permission of both instructors.
It is a violation of academic integrity to misuse academic resources, or to attempt to deprive other scholars, whether students or faculty, of equal access to academic resources, whether those resources are tangible (e.g., library or laboratory materials) or intangible (e.g., access to online or other electronic resources).
The Graduate School reserves the right to use all legal means, including submitting student work to electronic search engines, such as Turnitin.com, to investigate allegations that graduate students have engaged in academic misconduct. Students themselves are encouraged to use http://Turnitin.com to check their own work for improperly documented content.
Academic misconduct in any form is a serious offense against the academic community in general and against Georgetown University in particular. Students who are found to have violated standards of academic integrity will be subject to academic penalties. These penalties may include, but are not limited to, transcript notations, suspension or dismissal from the University, or revocation of degrees already conferred.
Jurisdiction over cases of alleged academic misconduct by graduate students shall be determined according to the degree program the student is pursuing:
1. Students in Doctoral Programs
The Graduate School will adjudicate cases involving students who are pursuing either a Ph.D. program, including any dual-degree program that incorporates a Ph.D. program, or a professional doctoral program, including such programs offered through the School for Continuing Studies or the School of Nursing and Health Studies. Both types of students will be referred to subsequently as “doctoral students” and their degree programs as “doctoral programs.” Procedures for conducting such adjudications are described below, along with possible sanctions and appeal procedures.
2. Students in Master’s-only, Certificate, and Non-degree Programs
The Honor Council will adjudicate cases involving students pursuing a Graduate School master’s-only degree, a certificate program, or a non-degree program; a dual-degree program that does not involve a Ph.D. degree program; and all master’s degree, certificate, and non-degree programs that are based on the School for Continuing Studies. Procedures for adjudication of cases by the Honor Council, as well as possible sanctions and appeal procedures, can be found at http://honorcouncil.georgetown.edu/
3. Students in the McDonough School of Business
The McDonough School of Business (MSB) will adjudicate cases involving graduate degrees that are based in MSB. Procedures for adjudication of cases by MSB, as well as possible sanctions and appeal procedures, can be found at https://orgsync.com/63509/files/396499/show
4. Students Enrolled in Dual-degree Programs
Students who are matriculated in dual-degree programs in which a Graduate School program is pursued concurrently with that of another Georgetown University academic unit (e.g., the Law Center or the Medical School), will generally be subject to the academic disciplinary procedures described in the Graduate School Bulletin when the alleged violations of academic integrity occur within the Graduate School sequence of the dual-degree program. When the alleged academic misconduct occurs within the other academic unit’s sequence of a dual-degree program, the matter will generally be adjudicated by the other unit. However, the Graduate School, the Honor Council, and MSB retain the right to impose sanctions on graduate students who have been found to have violated standards of academic integrity by another academic unit, and to adjudicate any case that the other academic unit chooses not to pursue. Similarly, findings of academic misconduct by the Graduate School, the Honor Council, or MSB under their own procedures will be reported to the other academic unit.
5. Students Enrolled in Consortium Courses or at Other Universities
Allegations of academic misconduct by graduate students who are enrolled at Georgetown as visitors from another university that is a member of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area will be adjudicated at Georgetown as described above in so far as their Georgetown transcript is concerned. If the student is found responsible for academic misconduct, in addition to authorizing any notation on the Georgetown transcript (and in addition to whatever grade may be assigned by the course instructor), the adjudicating body will provide the evidentiary materials and findings to the Georgetown University Registrar for transmittal to the Registrar at the student’s home institution per the policies of the Consortium. Under those policies, the home institution may undertake its own investigation and impose its own sanctions. Allegations that do not result in findings of responsibility for academic misconduct will not be reported to the other university.
Allegations of academic misconduct by Georgetown graduate students who are enrolled in a course at another Consortium university will be handled in a reciprocal manner. If the student is found responsible for academic misconduct by the other university, in addition to any annotations or grades placed on its own transcript, the Registrar of that university will forward the evidentiary materials to the Georgetown University Registrar, who will forward them to the Graduate School for possible adjudication as described above.
Should the Dean receive findings of academic misconduct by a Georgetown graduate student who is enrolled at a university that is not a member of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area, the Graduate School reserves the right to undertake its own investigation and to impose its own sanctions.
VI.E. Reporting Allegations of Academic Misconduct
Anyone who has reason to believe that a graduate student has engaged in academic misconduct is urged to report such information in writing, along with any supporting evidence. Allegations concerning doctoral students should be reported to the Dean of the Graduate School. Allegations of academic misconduct by students in master’s-only, certificate, or non-degree programs should be reported to the Executive Director of the Honor Council.” See https://honorcouncil.georgetown.edu/faculty/report-a-case.
Allegations of academic misconduct may be brought to the Dean’s attention at any time in the student’s academic career, even after the student’s graduation, regardless of when the alleged incident occurred. Communications regarding allegations of academic integrity fall under the protection of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). They are to be treated as confidential information be shared only with those with a need to know that information.
If the allegations concern a course for which a grade has not yet been posted, the faculty member shall not grade any assignment associated with the allegations nor submit either a letter grade or an “Incomplete” for the course until the allegations have either been adjudicated or dismissed. In the interim, if final grades are due, the faculty member should post a grade of “NR” (“No Report”) for the course along with a notation that the final grade cannot be posted until allegations of academic misconduct have been resolved.
VI.F. Procedures for Students in Doctoral Programs
1. Adjudication of Allegations
a. Standing Committee on Academic Integrity
The Dean will appoint a Standing Committee on Academic Integrity (henceforth, the "Standing Committee”). The Standing Committee will be composed of:
- Three faculty members, appointed to staggered 3-year terms.
- One Graduate School student who is pursuing a Ph.D. degree program and one who is pursuing a professional doctoral program. Each student will be appointed to a one-year term with the possibility of reappointment.
- The Dean may appoint additional faculty members or students to the Standing Committee as needed should a case brought to the Committee present possible conflicts of interest.
- One Graduate School associate dean, who will serve as the non-voting Investigating Officer.
- One non-voting ex officio member of the University Research Integrity Committee, to be appointed by the Chair of the University Research Committee.
Faculty representatives on the Standing Committee will be drawn from the full range of the Graduate School’s doctoral programs, on the Main Campus, at the Medical Center, and in the School for Continuing Studies. The Dean shall designate a faculty member of the Standing Committee to serve as Chair.
The Standing Committee will meet at the beginning of each academic year to familiarize the members with standards of academic integrity expected of Graduate School students, the type of violations brought before the Committee, and the range of sanctions that may be imposed on those found responsible for academic misconduct. Unless circumstances warrant otherwise, the Committee’s subsequent business, including the assignment of adjudication committees, will be conducted without meeting as a group.
b. Transmittal of Allegations and Decision to Investigate
When the Dean receives an allegation of academic misconduct by a doctoral student, the Investigative Officer will notify the student that an allegation has been received and that the Chair of the Standing Committee will assign an Adjudication Committee to review the allegations. The notice will include a copy of the allegations and a list of the members of the Standing Committee.
If the student is enrolled in a professional doctoral program, the notice will also include the name of a faculty member from the program or a related discipline who has no direct knowledge of the case at hand. This individual’s role will be limited to assisting the Adjudication Committee in determining whether the allegations primarily involve a breach of professional standards or of academic integrity, or some combination of the two.
The student will be informed that he or she has three (3) business days to do either or both of the following:
- Submit a written statement concerning the allegations that he or she wishes the Adjudication Committee to consider when making the initial decision about whether the allegations merit investigation. The student is encouraged to make any such written submission at this stage short, preferably no longer than one page. If the Adjudication Committee determines that investigation and further adjudication of the allegations are warranted, the student will be given the opportunity to submit an additional written response.
- Indicate his or her objection to having any specific member of the Standing Committee serve on the Adjudication Committee. A student in a professional doctoral program will also have the opportunity to object for cause to the faculty member proposed to assist the Adjudication Committee in determining the extent to which the allegations involve professional standards. If the student has concerns about any of these individuals serving on the Adjudication Committee, the student must notify the Investigative Officer in writing of the good faith basis for the objection within the three-day period.
After the student has been notified and had an opportunity respond, the Investigative Officer will refer the allegations and any response submitted by the student to the Chair of the Standing Committee for assignment to an Adjudication Committee. In doing so, the Chair will consider any objection to membership submitted by the student, but the final decision regarding the membership of the Adjudication Committee will rest with the Chair.
An Adjudication Committee shall consist of two faculty and one student member of the Standing Committee. A Standing Committee member who is teaching a course or mentoring a thesis in which academic misconduct has been alleged may not serve on the Adjudication Committee handling that case. Nor may a faculty member with such a connection to the student assist the Adjudication Committee in reviewing professional standards as they related to the allegations.
Each member of the Adjudication Committee will be given a complete copy of the allegations, supporting materials, and any written response to the allegations materials submitted by the student. If a faculty member has been named to assist the Adjudication Committee in reviewing professional standards, that individual will also be given a copy of the materials. As soon as reasonably possible, the newly-appointed Committee will caucus to review these materials.
- If the student is enrolled in a Ph.D. program, the first responsibility of the Adjudication Committee will be to determine whether the allegations could reasonably constitute a violation of the standards of academic integrity.
- If the student enrolled in a professional doctoral program, the first responsibility of the Adjudication Committee and the assisting faculty member will be to determine whether the allegations primarily involve a breach of professional standards or of academic integrity, or some combination of the two.
If it is determined that the allegations are solely professional in nature, the Adjudication Committee will refer the matter back to professional standards committee of the student's program. If that committee finds the student to be responsible for professional misconduct serious enough to warrant suspension or dismissal from the program, it can recommend such actions to the Dean of the Graduate School, in addition to whatever other sanctioning actions it may take. No further action will be taken by the Adjudication Committee and all copies of the allegations materials it received will be securely destroyed. No record of the allegations will be kept in the student’s file, unless they are resubmitted to the Dean by action of the program’s professional standards committee.
If it is determined that the allegations, in whole or in part, might constitute a violation of academic integrity, the assisting faculty member will leave the group and those members appointed from the Standing Committee will proceed to investigate the allegations under the Graduate School's normal procedures, beginning with a determination of whether the allegations could reasonably constitute a violation of the standards of academic integrity.
In either case, if the members of the Adjudication Committee determine that the allegations do not constitute a violation of the Standards of Academic Integrity, they will return the materials to the Investigative Officer with a recommendation that the allegations be dismissed. All materials received will be securely destroyed and both the student and the individual alleging academic misconduct will be informed that the case has been closed. No record of the allegations will appear in the student’s records.
If the Adjudication Committee determines that the allegations do warrant further investigation and adjudication, the members will so notify the Investigative Officer.
The Investigative Officer will send written notice to the student that an investigation has been initiated. This notice will include the names of the Standing Committee members who have been appointed to the Adjudication Committee. The student will be informed that he or she has five (5) business days to (a) request an opportunity to meet with the Adjudication Committee and (b) to submit a written response to the allegations, not to exceed ten (10) typewritten pages. A copy of this response will be provided to each member of the Adjudication Committee.
At the discretion of the Dean, a representative from the Office of University Counsel may serve as an advisor to the Standing Committee or any Adjudication Committee.
c. Investigation of Allegations by the Adjudication Committee
Having determined that the facts as alleged could constitute a violation of the standards of Academic Integrity, the Adjudication Committee will initiate an investigation. The Committee may supplement the information it initially receives with any information that it deems necessary. Since the purpose of this investigation will be to make determinations of fact, it will be interrogatory rather than accusatorial in both format and approach.
If specialized knowledge is deemed necessary to investigate a case, the Adjudication Committee may ask the Dean to appoint an appropriate expert to assist the Adjudication Committee in its investigation. The expert will serve as a consultant to the Adjudication Committee and will neither deliberate with the Adjudication Committee nor vote. Copies of any materials provided to the Adjudication Committee by such an expert will also be provided to the student.
If the student so requests, the Committee will meet with and question the student. The student may also propose relevant witnesses from which it would like the Committee to hear. If the student wishes to propose witnesses, the student must submit their names in writing to the Adjudication Committee, along with their relationship to the student, if any, and the nature of their testimony. The Committee will decide whether to hear from these witnesses.
Because the meeting between the Committee and the student is fundamentally an academic proceeding, not a legal one, the student is expected to represent himself or herself, and to speak on his or her own behalf. The student may not be represented by counsel, nor may anyone participate in the meeting who is not a material witness. The student may be accompanied by one person, such as a friend or family member, but that individual may not participate in the proceedings. Should that person also be an attorney, he or she has a professional obligation to so inform the Committee in advance, in which case the Committee reserves the right to have a representative from the Office of University Counsel present.
The Committee may also interview additional witnesses and/or review any additional material that it believes would be helpful or relevant to its decision-making process. The student against whom the allegations are brought shall have the right to be present as an observer to all witness interviews conducted by the Adjudication Committee. Interviews conducted by the Adjudication Committee may be recorded at the discretion of the Graduate School.
d. Determination of Responsibility for Academic Misconduct
The Adjudication Committee will determine by simple majority vote whether it believes the student is responsible for academic misconduct and whether it will recommend that sanctions be imposed on the student. The Adjudication Committee will deputize one of its members to report its determination of responsibility and any recommended sanctions in writing to the Dean of the Graduate School.
Upon receipt of the Committee’s report, the Dean of the Graduate School may:
- accept the findings and recommendations of the Adjudication Committee; or
- refer the case back to that Adjudication Committee for further investigation or more detailed written explanation of its findings and recommendations; or
- reject the Adjudication Committee’s findings and/or sanctioning recommendations and explain the rationale for accepting a different interpretation of the facts and/or imposing different sanctions.
The Dean of the Graduate School will provide the student against whom the allegations have been made with a written statement of the final decision and, as appropriate, any recommended sanction. The Dean’s letter imposing sanctions for academic misconduct will become part of the student’s permanent file.
A one-page summary report of the facts of the case and its outcome will be provided to the Standing Committee. These summaries will be maintained in a sanction precedent file by the Graduate School, and will contribute to the body of precedent to guide future adjudication committees in establishing appropriate sanctions for comparable violations of academic integrity.
Sanctions recommended by a Graduate School Adjudication Committee may include but are not limited to reduction of a grade in an assignment or a course or a failing grade in an assignment or a course, a transcript notation, suspension or dismissal from the University, and revocation of degrees already granted.
Assignment of grades is the sole prerogative of the faculty. Regardless of the sanctions that may be recommended by the Adjudication Committee and/or any sanctions imposed by the Dean, if a student is found to have violated academic integrity in a graded activity, the faculty member involved may fail the student or reduce the student's grade, for either an assignment or for the entire course, at his or her discretion. If, however, the student is found not to have violated academic integrity, the faculty member shall not penalize the student for academic misconduct.
Sanctions that may be imposed directly by the Dean of the Graduate School include but are not limited to a transcript notation, suspension, dismissal, or revocation of previously awarded degrees. The student’s department or program must comply with any such sanctions communicated to them by the Dean of the Graduate School. The Dean of the Graduate School is the only person authorized to impose such sanctions on a doctoral student for violations of academic integrity. The department or program shall not impose additional penalties.
3. Transcript Notations
If the Adjudication Committee finds a doctoral student responsible for misconduct that involves a course and recommends that a transcript notation be placed, the following notation will be placed on the student’s transcript under the relevant course: “Student found responsible for academic misconduct in the above course.”
If the misconduct results in another form of sanction imposed by the Dean, the following notations will be placed on the student’s transcript, in addition to any notation that may be associated with a course:
- Suspension will be noted as “Suspension for Academic Misconduct”;
- Dismissal will be noted as “Dismissal for Academic Misconduct";
- Revocation of a previously awarded degree will be noted “[Degree] revoked for Academic Misconduct.”
Such transcript notations will remain a permanent part of the student’s record.
A doctoral student who has been found responsible for academic misconduct shall have the right to appeal those findings as well as any sanctions that may have been imposed.
Appeals of findings or sanctions will be considered only if the student is able to demonstrate either that new evidence has become available since the case was considered by an Adjudication Committee and/or that he or she was harmed by substantial procedural irregularity in the process. Such requests must be filed within 30 days of the date of the Dean’s letter imposing penalties and must include a description of the grounds for appeal. Dissatisfaction with the decision is not in itself sufficient grounds to warrant granting an appeal.
A student whose sanctions include termination from a degree program should refer to Section III.G.2. Termination for Findings of Academic Misconduct.
The Dean of the Graduate School will determine whether there are sufficient grounds for appeal.
If the Dean determines there are not sufficient grounds for appeal, the student will be so notified in writing. Such a determination shall be final.
If the Dean determines that there are sufficient grounds for an appeal, the case will be sent back to the original Adjudication Committee or the Honor Council for further investigation. In extremely rare cases in which personnel changes or allegations of substantial procedural irregularities make it impossible or impractical to reconvene the original Adjudication Committee, a new Adjudication Committee may be convened.