How do I enforce Academic Integrity?

Detecting incidents of cheating and plagiarism has always presented challenges in higher education and, unfortunately, digital technologies facilitate certain kinds of academic dishonesty. What can you do to prevent plagiarism and other forms of cheating, and how do you handle it when it occurs?

  • Make sure your syllabus mentions and links to the CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity, and discuss it with your students in class.
  • Explain to your students what constitutes plagiarism, why it is prohibited, and what the consequences are of presenting other people’s work as one’s own.
  • Let your students know what tools (SafeAssign in Blackboard, for example) you’ll be using to check for plagiarism.
  • Design assignments and tests that make it more difficult to cheat: more essays that require individualized responses.

What to do when you’ve discovered evidence of cheating

Gather documentation about the incident, then discuss it with your student. If the matter cannot be resolved this way, report it to the Office of Judicial Affairs. Emanuel Avila, QC’s Coordinator of Judicial Affairs, explains the process in this presentation.

For more information about academic dishonesty and how to encourage academic integrity in your students’ work:

Additional resources:

Cheating & Plagiarism (Center for Teaching and Learning, Vanderbilt University)

Avoiding and Detecting Plagiarism: A Guide for Graduate Students and Faculty with Examples (CUNY Graduate Center)

My Word!: Plagiarism and College Culture, by Susan Blum (2009, Cornell University Press)


  1. Jean Kelly
    Thank you both for your comments and excellent resources. In the creative arts especially there's often a fine line between homage and plagiarism. Coincidentally, On the Media’s recent episode was on this topic. (http://www.onthemedia.org/2013/mar/08/) Not so coincidentally, our next tip will be on Copyright and Fair use. Look for it next week.
  2. Katherine Profeta
    Great post. I have two comments to add -- one spinning off of Kevin's comment above: Beyoncé was also accused of video plagiarism a year or two back, based on a music video she did with obvious similarities to several dance films by choreographer Anna Teresa de Keersmaeker; last I checked there was a Youtube video that put the two videos side by side. This could also help increase relevance of the issue, though worth noting that this sort of borrowing is endemic to creativity in both music video culture and hip hop culture, so there may be strong arguments from some of the students in its favor, which the instructor should be prepared to mitigate (perhaps by discussing who makes money off of the material and whether that is fair). Other comment is that I heard in the past from Emmanuel Avila (or maybe it was his predecessor in that position) that the college would prefer that every instance of serious plagiarism be reported so that they can detect repeat offenders. The problem with handling it only between the instructor and student is that the student may end up doing it "just once" and claiming innocence to multiple different professors. Even if you don't want Avila's office to take further action, I believe you can submit a report that just indicates that the event happened.
  3. Kevin L. Ferguson
    Looks like the URLS were stripped from my last comment. Here is the URL for the page written for students: http://writingatqueens.org/for-students/what-is-plagiarism/ And here is the page with resources for faculty: http://writingatqueens.org/for-faculty/plagiarism-resources/
  4. Kevin L. Ferguson
    Thanks for this important Teaching Tip. I also wanted to note that Writing at Queens has also developed two separate pages of useful resources: one created for students entitled "What Is Plagiarism?" and one for faculty entitled "Plagiarism Resources" . The faculty page has links to lesson plans, class exercises, and guidelines on subjects like Preventing Plagiarism, Teaching How to Use Sources, Dealing with Digital Environments, and ESL students. The student page has a brief description of why academic integrity matters along with answers to questions like how to revise a paper with plagiarism, how to engage with a scholarly source, and how to incorporate quotations. In particular, as faculty speak to their students about academic integrity and plagiarism they might ask students to read an article about pop star Joe Jonas's music video plagiarism of a film by Mark and Michael Polish. This short article demonstrates how complex the issue of plagiarism is and how these issues are relevant outside the academic community.

Spam prevention powered by Akismet