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ENGL 015: Rhetoric and Composition (Headley)

Academic Integrity

What is Academic Integrity? 
It is likely that you have heard the term “academic integrity” before, but if you haven’t, the Penn State definition as stated by University Policy section 49-20 is:

"Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner."

Penn State Policy further states:

“Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at The Pennsylvania State University, and all members of the University community are expected to act in accordance with this principle.”

But why adhere to this principle?
Following the basic tenets of academic integrity is important beyond the rules of Penn State. By producing information ethically, your work can be reused and shared with academic and professional institutions outside of the Penn State community. Practices that may seem time-consuming actually serve to make your work shareable, and, more importantly, personally identifiable.

It’s part of the Penn State Code of Conduct. If you violate academic integrity, you are violating one of the fundamental principles of this institution and you can expect consequences through your academic program and the Office of Student Conduct.

You’ve worked hard; you deserve to have your work produced in a form that can go beyond these walls.


When you use information in a paper or presentation for a class, you're following the “fair use” doctrine, and you don't need to get permission from the copyright holder. You do, however, need to properly cite the source for any text, images, or other media you use in a class project in order to avoid plagiarism.

Using someone else's thoughts or ideas as your own without properly giving credit is plagiarism. It is your responsibility to understand what plagiarism is and know how to avoid it. Plagiarism is illegal and can:

  • Score you an F on an assignment
  • Get you an F for the course
  • Get you kicked out of school
  • Go on your permanent record

You can avoid plagiarism by citing the information sources you use in your paper or project. Cite your information sources often! Always cite an information source when you use a direct quotation, and you should also cite when paraphrasing (putting information in your own words). You should also cite all the sources used in your paper or project on the "works cited" or bibliography page.

Properly citing the information resources you use does the following:
  • Gives credit to the information sources you used in your paper;
  • Allows others to follow the intellectual path you used to reach your conclusions in the paper;
  • Allows the reader (your instructor) to check the sources for accuracy, existence, etc.; and
  • Guards against plagiarism

Academic Integrity Training

Even if you’re familiar with general violations of academic integrity (plagiarism, copying, and so on), things can, and do, get complicated. This series of modules will provide a basic definition of academic integrity and explain practically how to avoid plagiarism, cheating, and other academic integrity violations.