Academic Integrity

 My Policies on Plagiarism and Artificial Intelligence

Updated 8/16/2023

Writing Integrity Policy: Avoiding Plagiarism and AI Abuse

I’ve noticed a great deal of confusion the past few years regarding the appropriate use of outside sources and AI support.  Unfortunately, there are some commonalities between good research and technology usage versus failures in academic integrity, so let’s clarify these differences.

I Care About Your Writing — Good or Bad

As researchers and writers, you are taking part in the production of knowledge — as students, you are learning the skills to do it better.  I don’t expect perfect knowledge or perfect writing — perfection simply doesn’t exist.  If I had a dollar for every word I’ve had to delete while writing this syllabus, I could buy my son that brand new kayak he keeps asking for.

I want you to bring your own words and your own ideas to the page, and that’s it.  Show me what you know.  Show me what you care about.  Except for direct quotes with citations, every word should come from you.  Every fact you use should be cited back to the original source.  But after that, I want your opinions.  I want your views.  Tell me your take on the subject, even if you disagree with the experts.  A poorly written paper with good citations is far, far better than something copied from elsewhere or hallucinated by an AI without sources.  I can’t teach you to become a better writer unless it’s your writing you submit.

Writing Your Own Original Work is Essential

When submit your work for class, this is my expectation:

Technology Is Everywhere

You’ve no doubt heard about ChatGPT.  You should know that writing teachers have been debating the pros and cons of artificial intelligence since the early Fourth Century BC.  (Feels like it, anyway.)

In the debates about artificial intelligence, many forget that we are already using AI in our everyday writing — I sometimes forget myself.  The following are acceptable uses of technology that you can directly use in your writing:

Some Technologies Include Landmines

These technologies are useful, but they can be easily misused.  Here are some resources that can help with ideas, but there are some real limits how how you use them in your writing:

Submitting Outside Work As Your Own Is Unacceptable

Here are examples of academic misconduct that can get you into heaps of trouble:

Don’t Fall Into the World of No Right Answer

My job is not to “catch” you plagiarizing — my job is to teach you what plagiarism is and to help you avoid it.  My goal is for no one in the class to attempt plagiarism, and for any accidental concerns to be so minor that you can easily fix them in your rough draft with some revision.  No one is perfect — I’m not about to fail someone for making an honest mistake.  But be warned:

If you use technology inappropriately, I will be faced with a dilemma.

I’ll examine your paper, I’ll talk with you, and then I’ll ask myself whether you meant to cheat, or if you weren’t aware you were cheating.  I won’t ask you this question because I might not trust the answer.  This is not a question you want any of your teachers asking — there is no right answer.  Depending on the severity of the situation, you might find yourself rewriting an entire final paper in the hopes of passing the course with a C.  Or you might simply have to retake the course.  Or if you’re caught plagiarizing in more than one class, you could face expulsion.  Regardless of the situation, I’ll do my best to help you pass the course with the grade you’ve earned, but I will also report any serious cases of plagiarism to the Dean of Students office.