CIS faculty appreciate that the vast majority of our majors are honest and take great pride in their individual work. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Some students abuse our trust by engaging in academic misconduct. This Guide clarifies appropriate behavior and unacceptable behavior.

These guidelines and procedures complement the GVSU academic honesty policies by clarifying academic honesty within the computing majors. Content has been heavily influenced by similar statements at Oregon State University, George Washington University, and Stanford University.

See below for:

  • Collaboration in Industry
  • Collaboration in School
  • Plagiarism in Computer Science
  • Disciplinary Action
  • Guidelines for Academic Honesty

Collaboration in Industry:

Hardly anyone works in a vacuum. In industry, if you had a problem you couldn’t figure out, you wouldn’t hesitate to go to a colleague and ask for help. If no one around you could help, you would seek out sources on the Internet. In industry, the focus is on the product, rather than the process. You would do everything in your power to get the product finished, regardless of the process you went through to do it (even then, industry does have standards about honesty too; refer to the Association of Computing Machinery’s Code of Ethics and the IEEE Software Engineering Code of Ethics).

Collaboration in School:

However, in an academic environment, the primary purpose of assignments is to teach students to think — to come up with solutions of their own, try them out, see what works and doesn’t work. In academic assignments, it’s the process that’s important.

Assignments include source code, research papers, design specifications and any other deliverables that are graded as part of the course. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, all assignments in CIS are expected to be individual efforts. Some instructors in upper level courses might encourage or even require collaboration. However, this collaboration will be well defined and designed to model industry practice.

Plagiarism in Computer Science:

Plagiarism is the willful copying of words or ideas from a source without giving the author full credit for those words or ideas. The source may be your textbook, a web site, a CD-ROM, an e-mail from a friend, conversations with individuals in the computer lab and other sources.

You avoid plagiarism by acknowledging the original author of any ideas you copy or receive significant inspiration from. This includes, for example, source code from textbooks, accompanying CD-ROMS, and web sites. Acknowledgment should be within the source code. Acknowledgment within other assignments such as reports should be done with endnotes. Consult with your instructor if you have any doubts on the legitimacy of a source.

Disciplinary Action:

Your instructor may talk with you if academic misconduct is suspected. He/she has the right to quiz you about the assignment. Failure to demonstrate a clear grasp of the material suggests you have engaged in academic misconduct.

Instructors will confer with the CIS Academic Honesty Committee before taking disciplinary action. Appropriate actions might include but are not limited to a failing grade on the assignment, a grade reduction in the course, a failing grade in the course, or recommended suspension from the university. Disciplinary action will be forwarded to the Dean of Students who will keep the incident on record. If you feel that the action is not fair, you may appeal the decision in writing to the Department Chair.

Academic misconduct will not be tolerated. CIS faculty will generally assign a failing grade in the course for your first offense. However, suspension will be recommended for especially flagrant acts. For a second offense, expulsion from GVSU will be recommended.


Previous Actions:

  • a student received a failing grade in a the course for copying source code from another student’s directory
  • a student received a failing grade in the course for academic misconduct
  • a student was suspended for one semester for using CIS facilities to ‘hack’ into computer systems on the Internet
  • a student’s course grade was lowered for providing solutions to other students

Guidelines for Academic Honesty:

The following guidelines are intended to clarify appropriate behavior with specific examples. You are expected to use good judgment when deciding if actions, not included in the examples, constitute misconduct.


You are expected to…….

  • create / develop your own assignments (including source code)
  • understand your solutions
  • acknowledge the help of others in writing
  • protect yourself from being suspected of misconduct by not allowing others to see your assignment before it is submitted
  • contact your instructor for clarification about assignment requirements

You are encouraged to……

  • discuss general approaches to a solution
  • provide and receive help with simple compile errors
  • provide and receive help with using the computing environment
  • discuss assignment requirements
  • study for exams with other students

You are guilty of academic misconduct if you…..

  • show your source code to anyone in hardcopy or electronic form
  • look at another student’s solution in hardcopy or electronic form
  • provide access to your computer account
  • share your password
  • submit as your own work the files, worksheets, or documents prepared by others
  • submit assignments as your own if they were created in collaboration with someone
  • make modifications to someone else’s solution in an effort to disguise misconduct

Academic Honesty Committee:

The Academic Honesty Committee ( provides faculty members with two basic services: (1) review of material, to verify whether or not academic dishonesty has occurred, and (2) suggest a response/action to cases of dishonesty.

For more information, see the Academic Honesty Committee FAQ.

Adopted by the School of Computing and Information Systems’ faculty on January 15, 2001