Academic Honesty

At ACHS, we strongly feel that meaningful learning only happens when there is honesty. Advancement of knowledge depends upon each student and instructor following the principles of academic honesty, respecting the integrity of each other’s work, and acknowledging and safeguarding intellectual property. Academic honesty and integrity is key to honest communication, which is essential for learning. All students, instructors, and graduates of ACHS must abide by the Academic Honesty Policy. Failure to do so is grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from the College.

Most Institutes of Higher Learning follow similar policies for academic honesty. Fundamentally, we expect all ACHS students to be completely honest. Each student must complete his or her own assignments and examinations. Evaluation is based on the merit of their own coursework. ACHS students shall not engage in any activity as outlined in this Academic Honesty Policy including, but not limited to, plagiarism, fabrication, falsification, cheating, and other academic misconduct.

Academic Dishonesty

Why Are We Concerned About Cheating?

Some schools are now using advanced technology to help prevent and catch cheating, including using digital photographs, digital fingerprints, keystroke dynamics, remote proctor observation, web cams, personality quizzes, and browser lockdown.

Our online classes likewise have several mechanisms in place that discourage cheating. Rather than policing our learners, however, at ACHS we consider developing the values of honesty and integrity as one of our top priorities. Learning honesty and integrity is powerful and meaningful, with lifelong benefits. While working in the healthcare industry, our graduates will likely have access to private and privileged information, and showing honesty and integrity is crucial for professional success. We have therefore decided to proactively address the issue of academic honesty with more education, rather than more enforcement. This section of your Handbook is designed to educate our students about academic honesty and explain why it is an important keystone of quality education.

The person most hurt by cheating is the cheater. Higher education is intended to be a higher, upward and/or elevating learning experience, where a person is enlightened and leaves the institution with a new and healthier perspective.  By cheating, a student robs him or herself of the heart of this experience. In other words, there can be no real or true academic enlightenment without honesty. Honesty is an integral part of learning just as tires are an integral part of a car, or just as the heart is an integral part of the human body. So it is with learning, meaningful education cannot exist with dishonesty. Moreover, we have a responsibility to the public to ensure that our graduates truly meet the rigorous and unique outcomes for each course. We take this obligation very seriously.

Accordingly, here at ACHS we offer many services for students who need additional help, including instructors and your Student Services team. One of the reasons we offer this scaffolding and support is so that students who need help can obtain it. This will hopefully reduce the temptation to cheat. We also design our courses to discourage cheating, using a range of assessments that are designed to engage and encourage adult learners.

Cheating can occur in several ways. To clarify, and to avoid breaching the Academic Honesty Policy:

  • Each student must complete his or her own work, including all writing submissions, discussions, tests, and exams. No one else can complete work for an ACHS student.
  • If a test is closed book, a student cannot refer to any materials when completing that test. This includes books, personal notes, and computer resources. A student completing a closed book test or exam uses only his or her memory to complete the test.
  • If a test is open book, a student can refer to his or her own notes, assigned textbooks, or course materials.
  • Students may not share the test questions before or after taking a test or exam. You must not copy the test questions or store them on your computer.
  • Students may not submit the same assessment (e.g., research paper, literature review, case study, practical, discussion, etc.) for two or more courses without prior approval from their current instructor(s). Additionally, there must not be more than a 30% similarity between the new assignment and the original older assignment submitted earlier. Finally, both papers must be submitted to the instructor for comparison and quantifiable, scientific examination to determine the degree of similarity. It is, however, always better to complete unique and original work rather than re-using or recycling a past assignment. Your learning experience will be richer and more fulfilling if you do this.

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism may be described as, but not limited to, the following:

The act of appropriating the literary composition of another author, or excerpts, ideas, or passages therefrom, and passing the material off as one’s own creation. When one plagiarizes, he/she represents work or ideas that are truly not their own. Plagiarism is theft of another person’s writings or ideas. Generally, it occurs when someone steals expressions from another author’s composition and makes them appear to be his own work by not giving proper citation. [1]

Plagiarism may be intentional (deliberately representing words, ideas, or data of another person as one’s own without properly attributing through quotation, reference, or footnote) or inadvertent (inappropriate, but non-deliberate use of another’s words, ideas, or data without proper attribution). A student is still held responsible if plagiarism is inadvertent, and will be dealt with accordingly. Education about what constitutes plagiarism, and how to avoid it, is freely available for all learners to access at any time during their education at ACHS.

Note, intentional plagiarism also includes submitting the same assessment (e.g., research paper, literature review, case study, practical, etc.) for two or more courses, even if the assessment (i.e., the original writing) is your own work. See the previous section above titled: Why Are We Concerned About Cheating, as well as the section below titled: What Is Original Work.

Students who are unsure whether they are properly attributing should consult with their instructor and refer to the resources in their online classroom to obtain guidance.

Finally, it is highly recommended to paraphrase and cite an author, rather than directly quoting his/her exact sentences. An essay that is nothing more than a string of quotations is not a good essay. Paraphrasing displays a high degree of intelligence, as well as the ability to use higher order thinking skills such as critical analysis and evaluation. When you paraphrase, you synthesize the original author’s ideas and put those ideas in your own unique words, and then cite their work by referencing it at the end of each sentence you paraphrased. Additionally, when you paraphrase, you are really evaluating and make a judgment of the quality of the author’s work, while adding your opinion and view about those ideas. You also analyze and find those things that are correct/incorrect, or find those things that you agree/disagree with from that author’s work. Analyzing, evaluating and applying these author’s words to support your unique ideas are all examples of using higher order cognitive skills. This is what is meant by the term “critical thinking” or “complex problem solving” in higher education. Critical thinking means using these higher order cognitive skills to find, analyze, apply and paraphrase high quality scientific research.

What is Original Work?

Students may not submit the same assessment for credit in two or more courses without prior approval from their current instructor(s). Submitting the same assessment for credit in two or more courses without prior approval is considered plagiarism. Therefore, students are expected to submit original work in all courses.

Original work is authored by the respective student, and is unique or new to the course for which it is being completed and submitted. Students may possibly re-work or revise an assessment/assignment that he or she has previously authored (i.e., use in part but not to exceed 30% of the originally authored work) only with prior approval of his or her current instructor(s). Additionally, both papers (assignments, assessments, etc) must be submitted to the instructor for comparison and quantifiable, scientific examination to determine the degree of similarity However, the College highly recommends students complete 100% original work (e.g., research and writing) for every course assignment, in order to have the most meaningful learning experience. This helps facilitate the greatest learning of the course material, as well as encourages transfer of these skills to the real-life environment.

It is easy to understand why “original work” may be confusing at times. After all, isn’t all of your work original to you? This perspective, unfortunately, focuses on authorship of the work, and not on ethics and values (i.e., academic integrity, honesty) expected from all students. Grades should reflect receiving equitable credit for work submitted, not double credit (recycling, double dipping) the same work over and over. Therefore, multiple submissions of the same assessment are considered dishonest and unacceptable.

If you have any questions about what constitutes original work, plagiarism, or original authorship/work, consult with your instructor and/or the College Co-Educational Directors for further clarification.

What are Examples of Plagiarism?

One can plagiarize unpublished as well as published material. Examples include:

  • Verbatim copying of an original source without acknowledgment of that source (for example, copying and pasting an online course lecture into a blog or your own website—a small amount can be quoted for educational purposes, but the general rule is not more than 10%)
  • Paraphrasing ideas from another without acknowledgment
  • Borrowing words, ideas, or data from an original source and blending this original material without acknowledging the source, which gives the false impression that this is your research and that these are your ideas.
  • Partial or incomplete attribution of words, ideas, or data from an original source

See examples at Princeton University: http://www.princeton.edu/pr/pub/integrity/pages/plagiarism.html

At Brigham Young University-Idaho: http://www.byui.edu/studenthonor/academic%20honest.htm

And a further explanation at the University of Kentucky: http://www.chem.uky.edu/Courses/common/plagiarism.html

What is Fabrication?

Fabrication or Falsification is a form of dishonesty, where one invents or distorts the origin or content of information used as authority. Examples include:

  • Citing a nonexistent source, or inventing data to support conclusions. As a real example, there have, unfortunately, been cases where researchers have used random-number generators to build their data set, instead of actually measuring participants or conducting a survey. This is a perfect example of inventing data, and is very dishonest and deceptive. What if data for a clinical drug trial had been invented and you needed to take this drug, which is actually not effective and was approved with false data?
  • Citing information incorrectly from a source (for example, where that information is not included in the source or is stated differently in the source, or distorting meaning or application of data). This includes exaggerating claims or blowing them up (inflating results/ideas), as well as presenting results out of context
  • Citing a source when it was not consulted nor cited in the body of the paper (for example, adding a long bibliography to a paper to make it seem well researched when those sources have not been consulted). If you list a source, then it must be somewhere in your paper as a paraphrased sentence that is properly cited, or a direct quote that is properly cited. Again, as mentioned in an earlier section (titled: What Is Plagiarism), we recommend paraphrasing with citation rather than directly quoting an author.

The New York Times reporter Jayson Blair was a widely publicized example of this type of dishonesty. Another example, mentioned by NPR (National Public Radio), includes Germany’s minister of defense who lost his employment and political status as a result of plagiarism - see “A Wave Of Plagiarism Cases Strikes German Politics” at: http://www.npr.org/2012/11/24/165790164/a-wave-of-plagiarism-cases-strikes-german-politics

What is Cheating?

Cheating is a broad term, which includes, but is not limited to, a student attempting to give the appearance of a certain level of knowledge or skill, which has not actually been attained. Cheating also includes using inappropriate and unacknowledged materials, information, or study aids in any academic exercise. Examples of cheating include, but are not limited to:

  • Using prohibited materials during a closed book exam
  • Collaborating on an examination or assignment without authorization
  • Taking an examination or completing an assignment for another student, or permitting someone else to take an examination or to complete an assignment for you

Other acts that would breach the Academic Honesty Policy include other intentionally committed, dishonest, or inappropriate acts. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Inappropriately providing or receiving information or academic work so as to gain unfair advantage over others (such as selling or buying a copy of test questions before a test)
  • Conspiring to commit any act of academic dishonesty
  • Attempting to gain an unfair academic advantage by bribery
  • Changing or altering grades or other official educational records
  • Continuing work on an examination after the allocated time has ended

Finally, it is important to remember that it is impossible to fully control and stop all forms of cheating. The best control, and the only real control, is self-control. Part of being a responsible, active, and engaged learner is self-control or self-discipline, and specifically disciplining yourself to be completely honest.

In 1948, a famous educator, Dr. Ernest M. Ligon, wrote the following timeless words:

In my community is being built a huge laboratory for atomic research. It will cost in its building and operation many millions of dollars. The amount spent today on character research is only a drop in the bucket compared to this. Scientists tell us there is no defense against the atomic bomb. Such is not the case; there is—character! Only character research can make the atomic bomb obsolete and guarantee that this atomic research laboratory shall be for man’s happiness not man’s destruction (pg. 149)

This excerpt was from his book about character education, titled: A Greater Generation. The full reference is here:

Ligon, E.M. (1948). A Greater Generation. The Macmillan Company, New York.

At ACHS, we likewise want to build men and women of character. Just as the only defense against the atomic bomb is character, the only defense against cheating is likewise character. Character refers to the attributes of self-disciple, self-control, honesty, hard work, integrity and ethics. 

Procedures for Handling Incidents of Academic Dishonesty: Consequences

If an instructor at ACHS suspects that a student has breached the Academic Honesty Policy, he or she is responsible to investigate the situation and take appropriate action. If academic dishonesty is suspected, the instructor will first seek to discuss the incident with the student to determine if the act was intentional. 

If the instructor believes the breach was unintentional, the first step is usually to contact the student and ask them to review the policy and resubmit his or her work.

If the instructor believes that the breach was intentional, he or she may give the student a failing grade for that assessment. Depending on the assessment, this may result in the student failing the course.

If the student does not comply with the instructor’s requests to resubmit work, or if the act was particularly concerning, the instructor will refer the student to the Academic Dean. The Academic Dean will go over the Academic Honesty Policy with the student and discuss the best way to proceed. Usually the student will be asked to resubmit the work within a prescribed period. The issue may also be referred to the Academic Standards Committee, and the student may be put on Academic Probation. The breach of the policy will be noted in the student’s file. Any student who has multiple breaches of the Academic Honesty Policy will be dismissed from the school.

For the purpose of tracking, suspected or proven violations of the Academic Honesty Policy should be reported to the Academic Dean including the student’s name, description/sample of the incident, and action taken. If the occurrence is sufficiently blatant or if a pattern of dishonesty or misconduct is discovered, additional action may be taken on behalf of the College based upon the nature of the infraction.

If an affected student disagrees with the determination or action and is unable to resolve the matter to the mutual satisfaction of the student and the instructor, he/she may have it reviewed through the College’s grievance process (detailed online here and in the ACHS Program Catalog).

Reporting Dishonesty

Students can report dishonesty anonymously for investigation.




[1] West’s Encyclopedia of American Law. Copyright © 1998 by The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.