2021-2022 Catalog 
    Jun 13, 2024  
2021-2022 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Statement of Academic Integrity

Academic Integrity

Claremont McKenna College is an academic community where all individual members commit to high ethical standards in meeting their responsibilities and in their relationships with each other. Students are expected to behave as mature and responsible members of this community and to follow ethical standards both in their personal conduct and in their behavior towards other members of the community. The College expects students to understand and to follow basic standards of honesty and integrity. Some common violations of these basic standards of academic integrity include but are not limited to: plagiarism, cheating on tests and examinations, presenting work completed for one course as original work for another, and other forms of dishonest performance on college assignments, as explained below. CMC holds students responsible for both intentional and unintentional violations.

Plagiarism means the use of the thoughts, ideas, words, phrases, or research of another person or source without explicit and accurate attribution. In keeping with this definition, all work, whether written or oral, submitted or presented by students at the College as part of course assignments, exams, or for College sponsored activities, must be the original work of the student unless otherwise specified by the instructor. Students must insure that elements of language and argument included in their work are properly acknowledged whenever those elements are taken from other sources, including the student’s own previously submitted work.

Cheating on assignments or examinations of any kind (homework, quizzes, midterms, finals, etc.) includes copying another student’s answers, exchanging information, using notes or books unless expressly permitted to do so by the instructor, having forbidden devices or materials in the testing environment, or gaining access to examinations prior to the actual taking of such examinations.

Other examples of academic dishonesty include but are not limited to:

  • copying or preparing another person’s work,
  • buying prepared papers,
  • violating the rules of an assignment, testing environment, or an exam, including unauthorized collaboration,
  • engaging in deception, including fabricating laboratory reports or experimental data, gaining unauthorized access to computer data or privileged information, and submitting altered exams or assignments for regrading, or
  • supplying false or forged documents to a college official.

Assisting anyone to engage in any of the violations described above qualifies as an academic integrity violation.

All rules and standards of academic integrity apply equally to all electronic media, particularly all intranet and internet activities. This is especially true for any form of plagiarism, ranging from submission of all or part of a paper obtained from an internet source to failure to cite properly an internet source.

For further information, see Academic Integrity Procedures .


Since plagiarism takes a variety of forms, “Avoiding Plagiarism”, by H. Ramsey Fowler is reproduced here as an Appendix.

Appendix: Avoiding Plagiarism By H. Ramsey Fowler

Avoiding Plagiarism

Plagiarism (from a Latin word for “kidnapper”) is the presentation of someone else’s ideas or words as your own. If you copy a sentence from a book and pass it off as your writing, if you summarize or paraphrase someone else’s ideas without acknowledging your debt, or if you buy a term paper to hand in as your own, you plagiarize deliberately. If you carelessly forget quotation marks or a footnote to show that words or ideas originated with someone else, you plagiarize accidentally. Whether deliberate or accidental, plagiarism is a serious and often punishable offense.

You do not plagiarize, however, when you draw on other writers’ material and acknowledge your sources. That procedure is a crucial part of honest research writing (. . .). Nevertheless, because a research paper requires by definition that you integrate other people’s ideas with your own, you may not always be sure what constitutes plagiarism. This appendix shows you how to avoid plagiarism by acknowledging sources when necessary and by using them accurately and fairly.

Knowing what to acknowledge

When you write a research paper, you coordinate information from three kinds of sources: (1) your independent thoughts and experiences; (2) common knowledge, the basic knowledge people share; and (3) other people’s independent thoughts and experiences. Of the three, you must acknowledge the third, the work of others.

Your independent material

You need not acknowledge your own independent material-your thoughts, compilations of facts, or experimental results, expressed in your words or format-to avoid plagiarism. Such material includes observations from your experience (for example, a conclusion you draw about crowd behavior by watching crowds at concerts or shopping centers) as well as diagrams you construct from information you gather yourself. Though you generally should describe the basis for your independent conclusions, so that readers can evaluate your thinking, you need not cite sources for them. However, someone else’s ideas and facts are not yours; even when you express them entirely in your words and format, they require acknowledgment.

Common knowledge

Common knowledge consists of the standard information of a field of study as well as folk literature and commonsense observations. Standard information includes, for instance, the major facts of history. The dates of Charlemagne’s rule as emperor of Rome (800-814) and the fact that his reign was accompanied by a revival of learning-both facts available in many reference books-do not need to be acknowledged, even if you have to look up the information. However, an interpretation of facts (for instance, a theory of how writing began) or a specialist’s observation (for instance, an Asian historian’s opinion of the effects of Chinese wall posters) is considered independent, not common, knowledge and must be documented.

Folk literature, which is popularly known and cannot be traced to particular writers, is considered common knowledge. Mother Goose nursery rhymes and fairy tales like “Snow White” are examples. However, all literature traceable to a particular writer should be acknowledged. Even a familiar phrase like “miles to go before I sleep” (from Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”) is literature, not folk literature, and requires acknowledgment.

Commonsense observations, such as the idea that weather affects people’s spirits or that inflation is most troublesome for people with low and fixed incomes, are considered common knowledge and do not require acknowledgment, even when they also appear in someone else’s writing. But a scientist’s findings about the effects of high humidity on people with high blood pressure, or an economist’s argument about the effects of inflation on immigrants from China, will require acknowledgment.

You may treat common knowledge as your own, even if you have to look it up in a reference book. You may not know, for example, the dates of the French Revolution or the standard definition of photosynthesis, although these are considered common knowledge. If you do not know a subject well enough to determine whether a piece of information is common knowledge, make a record of the source as you would for any other quotation or paraphrase. As you read more about the subject, the information may come up repeatedly without acknowledgment, in which case it is probably common knowledge. But if you are still in doubt when you finish your research, always acknowledge the source.

Someone else’s independent material

You must always acknowledge other people’s independent material - that is, any facts or ideas that are not common knowledge or your own. The source may be a book, letter, magazine, newspaper, movie, speech, interview, television program, or microfilmed document. You must acknowledge not only ideas or facts themselves but also the language and format in which the ideas or facts appear, if you use them. That is, the wording, sentence structures, arrangement of thoughts, and special graphic format (such as a table or diagram) created by another writer belong to that writer just as his or her ideas do. The following example baldly plagiarizes the original quotation from Jessica Mitford’s Kind and Usual Punishment (New York: Random House, 1973), p. 9.

ORIGINAL: The character and mentality of the keepers may be of more importance in understanding prisons than the character and mentality of the kept.
PLAGIARISM: But the character and mentality of prison officials (the keepers) is of more importance in understanding prisons than the character and mentality of prisoners (the kept).

Though the writer has made some changes in Mitford’s original and even altered the meaning slightly (by changing may be to is), she has plagiarized on several counts. She has copied key words (character, mentality, keepers, kept), duplicated the entire sentence structure, and lifted the idea-all without acknowledging the source. As illustrated in the following section, the writer must either enclose the exact quotation in quotation marks or state the idea in her own words and in her own sentence. Whichever she does, she must acknowledge Mitford as the source.

You need to acknowledge another’s material no matter how you use it, how much of it you use, or how often you use it. Whether you are quoting a single important word, paraphrasing a single sentence, or summarizing three paragraphs, and whether you are using the source only once or a dozen times, you must acknowledge the original author every time.

If you read someone else’s material during your research but do not include any of that material in your final draft, you need not acknowledge the source with a note because you have not actually used the material. However, your instructor may ask you to include such sources in your bibliography. (. . .).

Quoting, summarizing, and paraphrasing

When writing a research paper, you can present the ideas of others through direct quotation, through summary, or through paraphrase, depending on your purpose. (. . .) For direct quotation, copy the material from the source carefully, place it in quotation marks within your running text (. . .), and acknowledge the source. Put quotation marks around even a single word if the original author used it in a special or central way. Do not change any wording, spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. Be careful not to leave out or add any words or punctuation marks accidentally. Use an ellipsis mark (three spaced periods) to indicate the exact point at which you have deliberately left out part of a direct quotation (. . .). Use brackets to surround any word, comment, or punctuation mark you add within the quotation (. . .). Place the word sic (meaning “in this manner”) in brackets immediately after any mistake in spelling, grammar, or common knowledge that your reader might otherwise believe to be a misquotation. To correct the plagiarism of Mitford’s sentence above, the writer would place Mitford’s exact words in quotation marks and cite the source properly.

QUOTATION: “The character and mentality of the keepers,” maintains Jessica Mitford, “may be of more importance in understanding prisons than the character and mentality of the kept.” 7

When you summarize or paraphrase, you state in your own words and sentence structures the meaning of someone else’s writing. In a summary you extract the central idea from several sentences, paragraphs, or even pages, condensing it into one or more sentences of your own. In a paraphrase you follow the original more closely, often sentence by sentence, recording in your own words and the author’s line of reasoning. (. . .). Since the words and the sentence structures are yours, you do not enclose either a summary or a paraphrase in quotation marks, although, of course, you must acknowledge the author of the idea. Here is a paraphrase of the Mitford quotation above.

PARAPHRASE: Jessica Mitford maintains that we may be able to learn more about prisoners from the psychology of the prison officials than from that of the prisoners.7

If you adopt the source’s sentence pattern and simply substitute synonyms for key words, or if you use the original words and merely change the sentence pattern, you are not paraphrasing but plagiarizing, even if you acknowledge the source, because both methods use someone else’s expression without quotation marks. The inadequate paraphrase below plagiarizes the original source, Frederick C. Crew’s The Tragedy of Manners: Moral Drama in the Latter Novels of Henry James (1957; rpt. Hamden, Conn.: Shoe String Press, 1971), p. 8.

ORIGINAL: In each case I have tried to show that all the action in a “Jamesian novel” may be taken as a result of philosophical differences of opinion among the principal characters, and that these differences in turn are explainable by reference to the characters’ differing social backgrounds.
PLAGIARISM: According to Crews, the action in a “Jamesian novel” comes from philosophical differences of opinion between characters. These differences can be explained by examining the characters’ differing social backgrounds.5 

The plagiarized passage lifts several expressions verbatim from the source, without change and without quotation marks: “action in a ‘Jamesian novel’”; “philosophical differences of opinion”; “the characters’ differing social backgrounds.” Thus even though the writer acknowledges the author’s works (indicated by the use of Crew’s name and the note number 5), he plagiarizes because he does not also acknowledge the author’s words with quotation marks. The paraphrase below both conveys and acknowledges the author’s meaning without stealing his manner of expression.

PARAPHRASE: According to Crews, the character in Henry James’s novels live out philosophies acquired from their upbringing and their place in society.5

In this paraphrase, although the writer retains Crew’s essential meaning, he restates that meaning in a sentence that he himself has clearly constructed and designed to fit his larger purpose.

In paraphrasing or summarizing you must not only devise your own form of expression (or place quotation marks around the author’s expressions) but also represent the author’s meaning exactly without distorting it. In the following inaccurate paraphrase the writer has avoided plagiarism but has stated a meaning exactly opposite to that of the original. The original quotation, from the artist Henri Matisse, appears in Jack D. Flam, Matisse on Art (London: Phaidon, 1973), p. 148.

ORIGINAL: For the artist creation begins with vision. To see is itself a creative operation, requiring an effort. Everything that we see in our daily life is more or less distorted by acquired habits, and this is perhaps more evident in an age like ours when cinema posters and magazines present us every day with a flood of ready-made images which are to the eye what prejudices are to the mind.
INACCURATE PARAPHRASE: Matisse said that seeing is the first step of the artistic act and that we learn how to see by looking at posters and magazines.7

The revision below combines paraphrase and quotation to represent the author’s meaning exactly.

IMPROVED PARAPHRASE: Matisse said that seeing is the first step of the artistic art because we must overcome our visual “habits” and “prejudices,” particularly those we develop in response to the popular images of our culture.7

To be sure you acknowledge sources fairly and do not plagiarize, review this checklist both before beginning to write your paper and again after you have completed your first draft.

  1. What type of source are you using: your own independent material, common knowledge, or someone else’s independent material?
  2. If you are quoting someone else’s material, is the quotation exact? Have you inserted quotation marks around quotations run into the text? Have you shown omissions with ellipses and additions with brackets?
  3. If you are paraphrasing someone else’s material, have you rewritten it in your own words and sentence structures? Does your paraphrase employ quotation marks when you resort to the author’s exact language? Have you represented the author’s meaning without distortion?
  4. Is each use of someone else’s material acknowledged with a note?
  5. Do all notes contain complete and accurate information on the sources you have cited?
  6. Does your bibliography include all the sources you have drawn from in writing your paper?