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Faculty resources, Graduate Honor System

Graduate School in spring 2017

Why Report Potential Violations

  • To ensure that students within and across all departments and programs are held to similar standards
  • To protect both the faculty and the student from any potentially unjust action by allowing the Graduate Honor System, as a neutral entity, to review allegations and take appropriate action
  • To help connect data points should a student commit multiple potential honor code violations across different courses and assignments, that individual faculty members each observing a single instance of wrong-doing may not be aware of

Reducing Violations: Tips for Faculty

Although the Graduate Honor Code encourages faculty members to place trust in students, you can take reasonable measures to reduce a student's ability to cheat or plagiarise:

  • Include a statement on your syllabus about compliance with the Graduate Honor Code. Sample statement:
    • The tenets of the Virginia Tech Graduate Honor Code will be strictly enforced in this course, and all assignments will be subject to the stipulations of the Graduate Honor Code. For more information on the Graduate Honor Code, please refer to the GHS Constitution.
  • Remind students of your expectations when giving each assignment. Be clear about what resources students are permitted to use and what, if any, collaboration is allowed. Consider outlining these expectations in writing on the assignment or in the syllabus so that there will be no confusion.
  • If you ask students to do extensive writing, remind them about proper citation methods. You may also refer students to the GHS website for a thorough explanation of plagiarism and how to avoid it. In addition, the Library offers extensive resources about citation methods and style manuals and the Appendix of the GHS Constitution presents an entire section about how to avoid plagiarism.
  • Suggest to students that they use the iThenticate software to check their work for plagiarism before submission. iThenticate similarity reports are useful to identify potentially problematic areas of insufficient citation. They should be used as a guide to trigger a closer examination of the reasons for similarities and to determine whether there is a reasonable explanation for the level of similarity identified. Our Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) review staff look for less than 15% overall and less than 5% per single source in the iThenticate similarity report submitted with an ETD. Percentages equal to or higher than these will result in an additional review by an Associate Dean within the Graduate School. However, even lower or higher percentages may be found problematic or acceptable upon detailed review.
  • Encourage students to master citation by using EndNote. This free software is available to VT students at the Virginia Tech Software Distribution Office.
  • Have a proctor in the room for the duration of all examinations.
  • For out-of-class assignments, collect the assignments in person or allow them to be submitted electronically or slid under your office door. Allowing students to return an assignment to your mailbox may give a student access to another student's completed work.
  • Avoid recycling exam questions, if possible.

Review additional useful resources:

•  The Writing Center

•  Information and resources about plagiarism

•  Citation and Style Manuals offered by the Library