Seton Hall University
Department of History
Professor Nathaniel Knight


Statement on Academic Integrity

There is nothing more destructive to the learning process than cheating. Cheating makes a mockery of the values of education: the cheater places falsehood and deceit above the quest for knowledge and critical skills. Cheating is a self-demeaning act: cheaters declares through their actions that they do not consider themselves capable of academic excellence. Cheating poisons the learning environment, and erodes the morale of the student body: honest students can not help but be demoralized to see their peers attaining success through dishonest means. Is it any surprise that many in turn succumb to temptation? The result is a atmosphere hostile to knowledge, thought and honest academic achievement: the antithesis of what a university should be.

As a professor, I feel I have an obligation to my students to take a firm stance on the issue of academic integrity. As students, on the other hand, you have a right to know exactly what I consider to be violations of academic integrity, and what measures I will take should such instances arise. To that end I have drafted this statement.

What is cheating?


Any time that you present as your own work someone else’s words or ideas, you have committed plagiarism. Instances of plagiarism can range from seemingly innocuous lapses to egregious cases of academic misconduct. Purchasing research papers or hiring other people to complete your writing assignments are unambiguous and very serious instances of plagiarism. Copying excerpts from outside sources into your work without acknowledgment is another clear case. You need to be especially vigilant in this regard when using the Internet.

Altering the wording of a text is not enough to avoid plagiarism. If the ideas are not your own, and you fail to acknowledge this, you have engaged in plagiarism.

If you are unsure about what constitutes plagiarism, ask for help!

There is an easy and obvious way to avoid plagiarism: acknowledge your sources. I will generally provide instructions as to how I would like sources cited. If you are still uncertain see me for further guidance or ask a reference librarian.


Collaboration between students, in most cases, is something we try to encourage. You should feel free to talk to your classmates about questions, problems and issues that have arisen during class. Organizing group study sessions can also be very helpful. But you should bear in mind that you are evaluated as individuals. Therefore, any work you turn in for a grade, unless otherwise specified, should be yours and yours alone. It’s fine to discuss course materials with your classmates, but when you sit down to write a paper or take an exam all collaboration must stop. If your written work reflects ideas generated in discussions with classmates (ideas that might also appear in your classmates’ papers) your must acknowledge this in writing. If I find the same words and ideas in the work of two or more students, I will treat it as a potential case of plagiarism.


All of the exams I give for this course are closed book. You are to rely on nothing but your own intellect. Use of unauthorized materials during exams, including, but not limited to, textbooks, study sheets, lecture outlines, and notes, will bring severe penalties. Copying from other students’ exams is another serious, and, unfortunately, very common, violation. Not only is this practice very easy to detect, it rarely helps. You’re much better off relying on your own ideas and instincts, even if you are not sure whether you are right.

All copies of exams either current or from previous semesters are unauthorized materials to which you may not have access. Anyone attempting to obtain, or providing access to such materials is in violation of standards of academic integrity and will be penalized accordingly.

The Consequences of Cheating:


I do not have to catch you "red handed" to determine that cheating has occurred. A strong circumstantial case is sufficient. In the event that my suspicions are aroused, I may require you to undergo certain additional tests and procedures. Of course, I am aware of the plethora of web sites and commercial outlets designed to facilitate cheating. You should be aware, however, that there are also substantial resources available to detect and prevent cheating, and I will not hesitate to use them should the need arise. I resent very much having to spend valuable time investigating violations of academic integrity. But I feel strongly enough about the issue to take the time to look into any suspicious incidents. And once I have determined that cheating has occurred I will not let the matter drop.


In all cases of cheating you will receive a failing grade for the assignment or exam on which the cheating occurred. In the first instance of cheating you will receive a written warning and the matter will be reported to the chair of the history department.  Any subsequent cases of cheating or plagiarism will be considered a pattern of academic dishonesty and will result in a failing grade for the course.  The case will be reported to the dean's office where additional disciplinary measures may be taken up to and including expulsion from the university. 

Your Rights:

One of the most harmful aspects of cheating is the way in which it erodes the bond of trust between teacher and student. I do not exclude the possibility that I may on rare occasions mistakenly suspect or accuse students of cheating. If you feel you have been wrongfully accused of cheating, you have the right to appeal this decision. The first step is to see me. I will listen with an open mind to any information you want to provide, and, if I feel it is merited, reverse my decision. But once I make a final determination, I will not engage in any negotiation or bickering. If you still feel you have been unjustly treated, you must appeal the matter through the Chair of the History Department, Dr. Maxine Lurie, and the Office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. I will cooperate in every possible way with these proceedings and will be only too happy if it turns out that I was wrong.

Additional Resources:

The Center for Academic Integrity
History Department Policy Statement on Academic Dishonesty