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Updating Grinnell’s Academic Honesty Handbook (#1247)

Topics/tags: Grinnell

Today, we received a link to a new version of Grinnell’s Academic Honesty Handbook [1,2,3,4]. As you might expect, I downloaded a copy and skimmed through it to see what was new.

I feel a bit of pride each time I look at the Handbook [5]. Why? Because, like many others, I had a hand in it. Some years ago, I approached the awesome Judy Hunter to suggest that Academic Honesty [6] better address issues beyond citation, such as inappropriate collaboration and the forging of results. Judy not only agreed that expanding Academic Honesty was a good idea, but she also permitted me to contribute to it.

So what did I do? I can’t recall everything. But some things come to mind. Perhaps the most important was changing the declaration that Tutorial students must sign and that the Registrar supposedly enters into their permanent file.

As I recall, it used to read something like the following.

I have read the Grinnell College policy on academic honesty. I am aware of the importance of proper citation. I am also aware of the potential consequences if I fail to live up to these expectations.

I asked that we add a few words. My Tutorial students from long ago may recall that I made them add them manually to the old form.

I have read the Grinnell College policy on academic honesty. I am aware of the importance of citing properly, reporting findings accurately, and collaborating ethically. I am also aware of the potential consequences if I fail to live up to these expectations.

As I said, there’s more to academic integrity than just proper citation.

There are also some pieces of text that I recognize having written [7].

Are there forms of academic dishonesty besides plagiarism or cheating on a test?

Certainly, there are many other forms of academic dishonesty, some of which are discussed in the Grinnell College Academic Honesty Policy (Honesty in Academic Work). For example, it is academically dishonest to forge (or even to fudge) your results on a scientific experiment. It is also academically dishonest to do someone else’s work for them.


Can you give examples of the forging of scientific results?

Here are three examples:

  • If you’ve written a computer program that doesn’t work, your instructor asks for sample output, and you type that output by hand, your work is forged and academically dishonest.
  • If you do not gather data in lab (or lose it) and write down some numbers that seem reasonable, you have forged your results. If you do not gather data in lab and instead use a classmate’s data without your instructor’s permission, you have forged your results.

Can you give examples of doing someone else’s work for them?

Here are two examples:

  • Writing a paper or completing a homework assignment for someone else (at Grinnell or elsewhere) is academically dishonest.
  • Letting someone copy your lab results is academically dishonest.

Those are the parts that I recall best. Did I write (draft) anything else? Perhaps some of the discussion questions. Let’s see …

Hmmm …

Nope, can’t find anything. But I also don’t see any discussion questions. We had more discussion questions in the old version of Academic Honesty. I suppose those have moved to The Academic Honesty Teaching Guide [8]

In any case, I’m still proud of the stuff above. I’ve made positive contributions.

Do I appear explicitly in the credits of Academic Honesty? Nope. As is appropriate for institutional documents written collaboratively, few names are included in the credits. Those are mostly the folks who made major revisions.

Still, I find it amusing that a booklet [9] that emphasizes giving credit doesn’t give credit.

Postscript: Did I mention what’s new about this year’s version of Academic Honesty? It doesn’t seem so. We have new sections and guidance about AI assistants and Large Language Models, such as ChatGPT. Perhaps I’ll muse about that later.

[1] Like too many of the materials Grinnell produces, this document is locked up on Sharepoint. Whatever happened to sharing?

[2] Officially, Academic Honesty: Scholarly Integrity, Collaboration, and the Ethical Use of Sources.

[3] It may be called the Academic Honesty Booklet or Academic Honesty Pamphlet or something other than Handbook.

[4] At some point, we’ll change the term from Academic Honesty to Academic Integrity. At least Integrity appears in the subtitle.

[5] Booklet?

[6] Perhaps that’s a better way to name it.

[7] Or at least drafted.

[8] Something else trapped on GrinCo.

[9] Handbook?

Version 1.0 of 2023-08-09.