Academic Honesty and Dishonesty

Academic Honesty Overview

Academic honesty and dishonesty are both moral and administrative concerns for a teacher at Stanford. Stanford University’s Office of Community Standards administers the student judicial process for Stanford and works toward an honest and responsible community. Under the process, students are held accountable for adhering to established community standards including Stanford's Fundamental Standard and the Honor Code. The Fundamental Standard states: 

Students at Stanford are expected to show both within and without the University such respect for order, morality, personal honor and the rights of others as is demanded of good citizens. Failure to do this will be sufficient cause for removal from the University.

Discussing academic honesty with your students

Spend some class time at the beginning of the quarter discussing the code, as well as the broader topic of academic honesty; clarify expectations and answer any questions students have.

If you are TAing, you should discuss the Honor Code and academic honesty with the faculty member in charge of the course at the beginning of the quarter. Make sure your interpretations are compatible and you agree on what to do if violations occur. This will ensure that all students in a course are treated fairly.

Three main points should be emphasized in discussing the Honor Code with students:

  1. The Honor Code was not imposed upon the students by the administration or faculty. The students originally assumed its responsibilities at their own request.
  2. Those who suffer most from students’ academic dishonesty are not administrators or faculty but the honorable and conscientious students. Hence it is in their interest to make individual and collective efforts to see that the highest standards of honesty are always maintained.
  3. For questions about appropriate procedures in particular cases or ambiguous areas, the Judicial Advisor may be consulted. TAs, students, and faculty are all encouraged to use the services of the Judicial Advisor with regard to the Honor Code.

Structure the Environment

Not only should you inform students about the Honor Code and procedures in regard to violations, you should also try to create a learning environment that will reduce the temptation to cheat:

  • Make sure students know your grading criteria, what kinds of exams they will be given, and what materials they are responsible for.
  • If you assign any term papers, you ensure higher quality work if you regularly check on students’ progress on their papers during the quarter. You may ask them to submit their first draft early on or to turn in rough copies along with the finished version. This reduces the likelihood of receiving “file” or purchased papers.
  • The issue of plagiarism should be discussed in some detail, particularly in introductory or writing-in-the-major courses, since not all forms of plagiarism are understood and recognized by students.

Effective learning does not occur in an atmosphere of suspicion. You have an obligation under the Honor Code not to proctor exams or to take unusual measures to prevent cheating, and to treat students as if they are honest, until proven otherwise.

Office of Community Standards