The Honor System and Membership on the Council
The School of Continuing Studies proudly supports Georgetown University's Honor System. All students enrolled in the School's programs—including noncredit, credit, high school, summer, undergraduate and graduate students—are held to the highest standards of ethical conduct as defined by the Honor Council. The Honor Council (and Hearing Board for student cases) is comprised of student, faculty, and administrator volunteers who believe in the integrity of the Honor System. We strongly encourage interested students to apply to serve on the Council. Applications are available for download here. SCS Graduate students can also apply and serve on the Council; please include your degree and program on the "Expected Graduation Date" line of the application.
Honor Code Tutorial
All students are bound by the Honor System at Georgetown University. Additionally, all undergraduate students are required to complete the online "Honor Code Tutorial" during their first semester of study before they can be allowed to register for upcoming semesters. Newly admitted undergraduate BALS students must complete this tutorial at least one month prior to preregistration for the following semester to prevent a registration hold. These students will have to complete the tutorial and notify the BALS program in order to request that this hold be lifted.
Process for Students
The Honor System process is described in detail on the Honor System website listed above and in the Honor System Booklet available through their office and typically distributed to students during orientation. We encourage students who do not receive this Booklet at orientation to obtain a copy online or through the Honor Council Office (located on the ground floor, B-03, of the Gervase Building). All cases brought before the Honor Council Hearing Board are confidential.
After hearing a case, the Board makes a sanctioning recommendation to the Dean of the School and notifies the student and the Honor Council Office of the recommendation. Students found in violation of the Honor System are subject to academic sanctions that include, but are not limited to, failure of a course, suspension, dismissal and revocation of degrees conferred. Students who wish to appeal the initial recommendation of the Board must provide new, compelling information and documentation to the Honor Council Office at firstname.lastname@example.org by the deadline specified. After the Dean has made a final decision regarding the sanction, no further appeal of that decision is possible.
Tips for Students from a Hearing Board Chair
- Talk to each professor about the academic standards for that course. What constitutes cheating in one course might not be classified the same in another class. For example, one professor might allow you to work with another student when doing homework, while another might want this work to be yours alone. One professor might encourage you to work with the Writing Center, but another professor might forbid any type of outside assistance (including tutors or the Writing Center).
- Cite everything starting with your first draft all the way through to your final version. Students who try to include their citations and references at the end of their writing process frequently have difficulty remembering which thoughts were truly - and exclusively - of their own creation. Even paraphrasing requires a citation. If you turn in a paper without all of the correct citations and complete bibliography, even by accident, then you will have violated the Honor Code and could be subject to sanctions in a hearing. In other words, unintentional plagiarism is still classified as plagiarism. The Honor Council provides examples of plagiarism and an online booklet titled "What Is Plagiarism?"
- Confirm that you are submitting the correct, final paper to your professor before you turn it in (especially if you do so via email). Students before the Hearing Board sometimes claim that they turned in an incomplete draft paper (missing some of their citations and/or a complete bibliography) by mistake. Please note that you will be evaluated by the Hearing Board based upon the work you submit, even in error, and that submission of the "wrong" paper will not be considered as a reason for violation of the Honor Code. Therefore, you should make a special point of reviewing your work before you submit it.
- Students who feel pressured to finish a course, paper, or project while dealing with some type of unanticipated outside pressures (illness, work commitments, family emergencies) sometimes rush to finish and then find that they have not cited their sources - or, worse, that they have cut-and-pasted whole sections of work - in an effort to turn in the assignment on time. If you find yourself facing an emergency or other outside pressures at the last minute, please talk to your professors about those circumstances. Discuss the option of an incomplete (which would give you a little extra time to finish) or a lower grade for submitting late work.
Process for Faculty
We encourage faculty to include specific statements about the Honor Code on their course syllabi and to use the Blackboard feature, SafeAssign on all student papers to encourage originality and authenticity. Students are bound by the Honor System even if their professors do not discuss the Honor Code or use SafeAssign. Therefore, we recommend that students discuss all questions about plagiarism, impermissible collaboration and appropriate attribution (citing sources) with their course instructors.
A. Reporting a Possible Honor Code Violation
- As a faculty member at Georgetown and in SCS, you must report any and all suspected violations of the Honor Code to the Honor Council at email@example.com as soon as you become aware of the possible violation. Although you may also choose to talk with your Associate Dean about the matter, reporting the incident to the Honor Council is your most important step.
- Shortly after you report the incident, you will be contacted by an Investigating Officer (IO) to discuss the details of your report. The IO will also speak with the student and, if necessary, other affiliated parties. Please keep copies of emails, papers, tests, and any other documentation related to your report. Upon completing this initial investigation, the IO will either (a) determine that no violation has occurred or (b) refer the case to a Hearing Board for further review. If the student is found not in violation, then you must treat the student as if no violation has occurred and grade the assignment based solely upon its academic merits. You cannot retaliate against a student if he/she is found not in violation.
B. Appearing before the Hearing Board
- If the case is referred to a Hearing Board, you may be asked to present during an evening hearing. The Board consists of students, faculty members, and the hearing chairperson. Everything reported in the hearing remains confidential and should not be discussed outside of the hearing.
- The Board will complete its review and either (a) determine that no violation has occurred or (b) refer the case to a Hearing Board for further review. If the student is found not in violation, then you must treat the student as if no violation has occurred and grade the assignment based solely upon its academic merits. You cannot retaliate against a student if he/she is found not in violation. If the student is found in violation, then you are free to assign the reduced grade (including a failure in the course) as appropriate. Please note: The sanction of the Board is separate from the academic merit (grade) you choose to assign upon completion of the hearing.
- If the suspected violation occurs when grades are due at the end of the semester, you should assign an "NR" (not reported) as a place holder until the hearing has been completed. Thereafter, you can email the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs & Compliance (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the final grade.
Tips for Faculty from a Hearing Board Chair
- Talk to your students and let them know your expectations for honest, original, well-researched, and documented work throughout the semester. Let them know what you consider permissible and what you consider against your academic and ethical guidelines. Can they use the Writing Center or a tutor? Can they work on homework in pairs or as a group, and, if so, how should they submit their answers?
- Discuss the importance of the Honor Code and its value to them as students in your course and at Georgetown.
- As important deadlines and due dates approach, remind your students to cite their sources and to not let time pressures lead them into careless work. Explain to them what constitutes plagiarism and refer them to the online booklet "What Is Plagiarism?"
- Encourage your students to talk to you when they have emergency situations arise that could hinder their ability to do their best work. You are not required to give them more time or to allow them an incomplete; however, you should listen to their circumstances and give them honest guidance so that they can make an informed decision on their own.
- Include specific language about the Honor Code - and the need for students to adhere to it - on your syllabus.
The following links can help students, faculty and staff with research, writing and questions regarding academic integrity:
- The Georgetown University Writing Center can help students with the writing and research process. Students should check with their course instructors prior to using the Writing Center, however, as some instructors do not allow any outside assistance.
- The Georgetown University Library provides online Reference Assistance.
- RefWorks is a free research tool sponsored by the Georgetown Library that can help students organize their references and create accurate citations in a variety of formats including APA, MLA and Chicago styles.
- Diana Hacker's Research and Documentation Guide provides examples of research papers in a variety of formats including APA, MLA and Chicago styles.
- Georgetown University is a member of the Center for Academic Integrity.
Last updated: 11/9/12