Tips For Preparing Academically Honest Work

1. Prepare and plan for all your assignments, tests, and papers.

By planning your schedule well, you will have adequate time to do your own work for assignments, including reading the assigned texts and your own research thoroughly.  By reading, evaluating, and synthesizing this information with your own ideas, you can integrate what you read/watch into your own thoughts and opinions, and eventually into your own arguments and phrasing.

Through consistent studying, you will be prepared for and feel confident during tests. 

By allocating the time to research and to take good notes, you will create the foundation for carefully argued and properly cited papers.  You can then present your original ideas thoughtfully in your own voice, using quotations sparingly to support aspects of your argument.

2. Know the expectations for any work you produce.

All professors at Millersville University expect intellectually honest work; however, rules for producing that work may vary between professors.  Unless you are told otherwise, work done for your classes should be individual work produced by you alone.  If your professor permits students to collaborate on assignments, be sure you understand when and how much collaboration is permitted. 

Standards for written assignments also vary.  Consult your syllabus and assignment sheets to determine your instructor’s expectations.  If these documents do not provide enough information, talk to your instructor.

3. Set the standard for integrity.

Listen and ask questions when professors discuss academic integrity and plagiarism.   Advocate the value of doing your own original work with others.  Explain to students who are tempted to use unethical shortcuts that true learning only takes place when people think for themselves and do their own work.  Promote honesty and integrity by not loaning assignments or passing on exams or papers to others.  

4. Know how to take tests fairly.

Before the exam, ask your instructor to clarify what materials can be used and bring only those materials to the test.  During the test, put at least one seat between you and your classmates and focus on your own paper.  When finished, sign your test and return your exam papers and scrap paper to your instructor.  If you notice other students violating the standards of academic honesty, try to let your instructor know.

5. Prepare your papers thoughtfully.

Plan your papers in advance and schedule enough time to conduct thorough research.  Think about how you will use sources in your paper, especially how the information in these sources will complement your own original ideas.  As you begin your research, create an organized, thorough bibliography of every source. 

As you take notes, summarize the main ideas of your sources in your own words and in your own sentence structures.  Recognize that changing a few words of a sentence does not make it your own; similarly, you can’t “borrow” chunks of sentences or the sentence’s flow of ideas/structure.  Often brief notes will make it easier to create your own original sentences when you write your paper; if you take notes in fragments, you are less likely to carry over sentence structures from your original sources. 

Before you begin to write, make an outline to insure not only that you know the relationship between all the ideas in your paper, but also that your original ideas retain their primacy.  When writing your paper, work from your outline and your notes, not from the original sources.  Specifically, don’t try to type your paper on a computer while staring at an original source; that arrangement will make it difficult for you to compose original material. 

As you organize your argument, use direct quotes sparingly, when superior phrasing or a recognized authority in the field warrants it. If you cut-and-paste a direct quote into your paper, add the quotation marks and the citation materials for the quote immediately.  If you are uncertain about whether or not to cite a source, cite it; acknowledging your research enhances your own argument.  Be sure to use credible sources and to establish clearly ideas, sentence structures, or words that you have borrowed through attribution and citation. Work with your instructor and/or tutors on any issues where you need help.

6. Understand the rules for correct attribution and citation.

Write your paper in your own words using your own sentence structures.  Cite direct quotations, including pieces of sentences authored by others.  Unless the information is common knowledge, cite paraphrases and summaries as well. If you have questions about attribution or citation, check an approved handbook, talk with your professor, or visit the Writing Center.