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Academic Integrity

The Duke Community Standard

Duke University is a community dedicated to scholarship, leadership, and service and to the principles of honesty, fairness, respect, and accountability. Citizens of this community commit to reflect upon and uphold these principles in all academic and nonacademic endeavors, and to protect and promote a culture of integrity.

To uphold the Duke Community Standard:

  • I will not lie, cheat, or steal in my academic endeavors;

  • I will conduct myself honorably in all my endeavors; and

  • I will act if the Standard is compromised.

It is implicit that every assignment submitted was done in accordance with the Duke Community Standard.

The Reaffirmation

Upon completion of each academic assignment, students may be expected to reaffirm the above commitment by signing this statement: "I have adhered to the Duke Community Standard in completing this assignment."

Application of the Community Standard to the Pratt School of Engineering

The Duke Community Standard encompasses both academic and nonacademic endeavors. The first part of the pledge focuses on academic endeavors and includes assignments (any work, required or volunteered, submitted for review and/or academic credit) and actions that are taken to complete assignments. It also includes activities associated with a student’s job search since the definition of lying includes "communicating untruths in order to gain an unfair academic or employment advantage." Some of the aspects of academic endeavors, as they apply to the master of engineering master's students, are:

Generative AI (e.g. ChatGPT). Generative AI tools such as ChatGPT may be permitted for some assignments while not permitted for other assignments. Students should provide attribution such as "Generated by ChatGPT" if a generative AI tool is used. Students should confirm for each assignment whether the use of a generative AI tool is permitted.

Group and Individual Work. In many classes there will be both group work and individual work. Students should confirm the level of consultation or collaboration that is allowed for each assignment.

Studying from old exams, assignments, and case studies. Many courses have case studies, exercises, or problems that have been used previously. Students should not use prior semesters’ work to prepare for an exam or assignment unless allowed by the instructor.

Computer laboratories, library, meeting rooms, and other shared spaces and resources. There are numerous shared resources that are available to support students' studies. Use these so that they will remain in good shape and equally accessible for others.

Career Service Resources. Use these so that they will remain equally accessible for others and so that the MEM/MEng Program will remain in good standing with Career Services. Abide by Career Center policies found at careerhub.students.duke.edu.

Implicit Reaffirmation. Some instructors may not require students to include the reaffirmation on every assignment. If the instructor does not require students to write the reaffirmation ("I have adhered to the Duke Community Standard in completing this assignment") or it is omitted from the assignment, it is implicit that every assignment submitted was done in accordance with the Duke Community Standard.

The second part of the Duke Community Standard extends its reach to nonacademic activities undertaken while enrolled as a student. Students are expected:

  • to observe all local, state, and federal laws and

  • to abide by Duke policies including university policies on discrimination, harassment (including sexual violence and other forms of sexual misconduct), domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. Details for these may be found at oie.duke.edu/knowledge-base/policies-statements-and-procedures.

Jurisdiction

  • Program leaders may respond to any complaint of behavior that occurred within a student’s involvement in the academic program, from application to graduation. However, complaints of discrimination, harassment (including sexual harassment which, in turn, includes sexual violence and other forms of sexual misconduct), domestic violence, and stalking will be addressed under the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy (for misconduct by students) or the Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment, and Related Misconduct (for misconduct by employees or others).

  • Any student is subject to disciplinary action. This includes students who have matriculated to, are currently enrolled in, are on leave from, or have been readmitted (following a dismissal) to programs of the university.

  • With the agreement of the vice president for student affairs and the dean of the Pratt School of Engineering, jurisdiction may be extended to a student who has graduated and is alleged to have committed a violation during their career.

  • The accused may also be a cohesive unit of the university, such as a recognized organization.

  • The university reserves the right to take necessary and appropriate action to protect the safety and well-being of the campus community. Such action may include pursuing any violation of local, state, or federal law, or university policy—on or off campus—that constitutes a direct or indirect threat to the university community. Further, students who are cited, arrested, or reported for repeated behavioral concerns off campus may be subject to disciplinary action. Additionally, students or groups who are on university-affiliated programs/outings may be subject to disciplinary action.

  • In cases of alleged policy violations by a student enrolled in a joint degree program or interdisciplinary coursework within Duke, each school or unit (the home unit and the host unit) may have a stake in the adjudication. Thus, an ad hoc process shall be developed and an ad hoc panel formed with representatives from both institutions/units to handle the case. The sanctions may be different for each school or unit.

  • For students completing interinstitutional coursework at other institutions, whether domestic or international, or for visiting students enrolled in classes at Duke, the home and the host institutions should confer and decide the process to be followed, which may include combined or separate elements. The sanction may be different for each institution.

Academic Standard Resolution Process

The resolution process is the responsibility of the academic program. Electrical and Computer Engineering programs will follow their own process, which is posted on the ECE Graduate Program Sakai site. For DKU-ECE programs while students are at DKU, they will follow the DKU Academic Integrity Policy. The process below will be followed for all MEM and MENG programs.

A flow chart for the resolution process for possible violations of the academic standard is given in the figure below. The details of the process will be described in this section.

Resolution process for academic standard violations
Resolution process for academic standard violations

Students’ Obligation to Act on Potential Cases of Academic Dishonesty

The Duke Community Standard stresses the commitment that students share with faculty and administrators to enhance the climate for academic integrity at Duke University. The pledge beginning "I will not lie, cheat, or steal in my academic endeavors" is followed by "I will act if the standard is compromised." Both statements, like the Duke Community Standard as a whole, are statements of principles.

From principles flow policies. Stemming from this nontoleration statement ("I will act if the standard is compromised") is a policy that reflects an emphasis on taking constructive action of some sort if one witnesses or knows about dishonorable behavior connected to classroom assignments or activities.

Students who observe or hear about cheating are obligated to do something about it rather than remain passive bystanders. They are obligated to take action. Several possible courses of action are available, and students should feel free to discuss them with trusted advisors before choosing among them:

  • Alerting the faculty member that cheating may be occurring in the course. This alert can be in any form, including anonymously. The information will allow the instructor to consider corrective measures and address the topic with the class.

  • Calling attention to the suspected violation as it is occurring, in either a public or a private manner.

  • Identifying the suspected cheater to the faculty member of the course.

  • Speaking directly with the student suspected of violating the Duke Community Standard, either to gain clarity about what happened or to put the person on alert that their behavior could have serious consequences.

  • Discussing concerns about a suspected violation with your program director or associate dean of the master's program.

Unless required otherwise by a court of law, the report will be treated in total confidence: if the reporting student requests anonymity, the faculty member will not divulge the reporting student’s name to anyone, and the reporting student is under no obligation to take the information any place else. The faculty member will then act on this information, as the Faculty Handbook requires; at the very least, the instructor will let the suspected student know that their behavior has raised suspicion. Whatever the option chosen for reporting breaches of academic integrity, a student is responsible for doing something. This responsibility is an integral part of the Duke Community Standard and will help to build a community of honor whose values the Duke Community Standard articulates.

Investigating

Once a suspected violation has been brought to the attention of the associate dean of master’s programs, they may consult with the Director of the Office of Student Conduct to decide whether any further investigation is warranted and possible. They will also assess the severity of the allegations and the associate dean of master’s programs will review the disciplinary record of the person suspected to see if there are any previous violations that would preclude a "one-time faculty/student resolution." If there is to be a further investigation, the associate dean of master’s programs will notify the individual/group that an academic investigation is being held and specify the university policy that is suspected of being violated. The associate dean of master’s programs will gather information regarding the alleged incident in order to determine the appropriate means of resolution. Investigations may include, but are not limited to a review of related documents, a review of electronic materials or records, and interviews, or requests for written statements from any person involved in the alleged incident. Students and student groups are encouraged to be forthright and as specific as possible when offering information related to an investigation, but may choose the extent to which they share information. Please be aware that students and organizations that lie or intentionally provide misleading information during the investigation phase or any other aspect of the judicial process are violating the Duke Community Standard. Additionally, sanctions for multiple infractions are typically more severe than sanctions for single infractions.

During the investigation, interim restrictions may be placed on a student/group to protect the health and safety of students or the community. These restrictions may include a "no contact order," removal of privileges, removal from or relocation within the residential community, suspension of activity, or suspension from the university. An interim suspension from the university may be imposed by the dean of the Pratt School of Engineering or the vice president for student affairs, or designee, and shall become effective immediately without prior notice whenever there is evidence that the continued presence of the student may pose a substantial and immediate threat to themselves, to others, or to the university community. Should an interim suspension be issued and resolution of the matter that prompted it not be resolved within two weeks, the interim suspension may convert to an administrative leave of absence.

Cases may be dropped for insufficient information, or referred for possible disciplinary action. For a case to be referred for possible disciplinary action, there must be sufficient information to believe that a policy violation may have occurred and that the alleged individual/group may be responsible.

Resolving Violations

Suspected violations are resolved dependent on their severity and the student’s disciplinary history.

One-Time Student-Faculty Resolution. When the suspected violation is "minimal," such that it would not put the student at risk of suspension or expulsion (e.g., inadvertent omission of a citation or improper citation, minor misunderstanding about collaboration or use of materials on an assignment), and when the student has not committed any previous violations, it may be possible to resolve the situation at the level of the faculty member in charge of the course and the student. The first, and essential, stage in this process is for the faculty member to discuss the situation with the associate dean of master’s programs to determine if the suspected violation is in fact "minimal," and if the student has previously been found responsible for any academic integrity violations. The associate dean of master’s programs in consultation with the Director of the Office of Student Conduct serves as a "clearinghouse" for Duke Community Standard violations, so that

  • there is consistency in defining what violations are "minimal";

  • the consequences for various types of violations are consistent; and

  • repeated violations by the same student in different courses do not go unnoticed.

When these conditions for a "one-time student-faculty resolution" are met, the instructor may impose consequences for the violation and inform the associate dean of master’s programs of the consequences. These could include receiving failing grades on the assignment or the course, repeating one or more assignments, and/or completing a separate assignment intended to inform the student about academic integrity (e.g., a paper analyzing the consequences of failure to cite sources properly).

If the instructor does not want to use this option, they may request an administrative hearing. If the student does not agree with the resolution proposed by the instructor, they may request an administrative hearing.

Administrative Hearing. If the suspected violation is not "minimal," if there have been previous violations, if the instructor chooses not to resolve the case, or if the student disagrees with the instructor’s proposed resolution, the case goes to an administrative hearing. If the violation is severe enough to put the student at risk of suspension or dismissal, and if the accused student denies the accusation, they may ask to bypass the administrative hearing level and go directly to an ad hoc judicial panel, as explained below.

If the student admits to violating the policy and accepts responsibility for their actions, the associate dean of master’s programs, in consultation with the Director of the Office of Student Conduct, will recommend the appropriate disciplinary action. Consequences may include probation, suspension, or expulsion, and/or assignments intended to educate the student about academic standards. Consequences may include recommendations to the course instructor involving grades for one or more assignments or for the whole course, but final authority for these rests with the instructor.

If the student believes the administrative hearing failed to consider relevant information, violated fair procedures in some other way, or imposed consequences inappropriate to the offense, and faces potential suspension or expulsion from the university, they may appeal the decision to an ad hoc student conduct panel. If the student does not admit violating the policy and faces potential suspension or expulsion from the university, the case will be presented to an ad hoc student conduct panel.

For matters that do not involve suspension or expulsion from the university, the appeal process for the outcome of an administrative hearing is to the associate dean for research and infrastructure.

Ad Hoc Student Conduct Panel. Appeals from the administrative hearing stage will be heard by an ad hoc student conduct panel composed of four members, two students, and two faculty or staff members from the Pratt School of Engineering. The associate dean of master’s programs will be present to help maintain continuity and consistency of procedures, but will not be a voting member of that panel. The student members will be selected by the MEM/MEng Graduate and Professional Student Government representative(s). If no representatives have yet been elected, the students will be selected by the associate dean of master’s programs. The faculty/staff members will be selected by the associate dean of master’s programs. The student suspected of the violation may object in writing if they believe any member of the proposed panel has a conflict of interest that could jeopardize a fair judgment. All members of the panel and the accused student should be notified at least forty-eight hours in advance when and where the hearing will be and what evidence will be presented. Any of the student conduct panel members or the student may ask for evidence to be presented. The accused student may consult others for advice at their discretion and may bring a member of the Duke community (student, faculty, or staff member) to the hearing as an advisor (but the advisor does not speak to the student conduct panel or any witnesses). The panel will attempt to decide, using a clear and convincing standard, whether a violation took place and what the consequences should be by consensus; where consensus is not possible, a vote will determine the outcome (thus, a 3-1 or 4-0 vote is necessary to reach a conclusion). Consequences may include probation, suspension, or expulsion, and/or assignments intended to educate the student about academic standards. Consequences may include recommendations to the course instructor involving grades for one or more assignments or for the whole course, but final authority for these rests with the instructor.

Ad hoc student conduct panels are not trials and are not constrained by rules of procedure and evidence typically used in a court of law. The university disciplinary system operates under a standard of fairness, which includes an opportunity for the student/group to be notified of the alleged incident and policy violations under consideration and an opportunity to be heard.

Accused students are entitled to the following procedural rights in a hearing before the ad hoc conduct panel:

  • to be informed that the student is under investigation;

  • to seek advice from anyone;

  • to be given an opportunity to respond to allegations;

  • to choose the extent to which the student shares information (false or misleading information will be viewed as lying);

  • to be notified of a hearing at least 48 hours (two days) in advance (notification will include the time, date, and location of the hearing as well
    as names of hearing panel members and witnesses);

  • to know of and review in advance of the conduct panel written information deemed relevant by the associate dean of master’s programs and allegations presented to the hearing panel;

  • to challenge the participation of any panel member if there is a significant conflict of interest;

  • to rebut any witness testimony presented against the student/student group while following the protocols of the hearing;

  • to be accompanied by an advisor to the hearing (who must be a member of the university community [student, faculty, or staff]);

  • to an equitable and impartial hearing;

  • to present additional witnesses or information at the hearing (the relevancy of which may be determined by the hearing panel); and

  • to appeal based upon clearly stated grounds.

If the student believes the ad hoc student conduct panel failed to consider relevant information, violated fair procedures in some other way, or imposed consequences inappropriate to the offense, they may appeal the decision to the associate dean for research and infrastructure. This appeal must be made within seven days of the ad hoc student conduct panel’s decision.

Upon proper notice, if a student or student group fails to attend an administrative hearing or conduct panel, the hearing officer may proceed to resolve the case without the benefit of that student’s/student group’s input.

Nonacademic Standard Resolution Process

A flow chart for the resolution process for possible violations of the nonacademic standard is given in the figure below. The details of the process will be described in this section.

Resolution process for nonacademic standard violations
Resolution process for nonacademic standard violations

Investigating. Once a suspected violation has been brought to the attention of the associate dean of master’s programs, they will consult with the Director of the Office of Student Conduct to decide whether any further investigation is warranted and possible. (Again, allegations of harassment will be handled under either the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy or the Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment, and Related Misconduct.) If there is to be a further investigation, the associate dean of master’s programs, will notify the individual/group that an investigation is being held and specify the university policy that is suspected of being violated. They will gather information regarding the alleged incident in order to determine the appropriate means of resolution. Investigations may include a review of related documents, interviews, or requests for written statements from any person involved in the alleged incident. Please be aware that students and organizations that lie during the investigation phase or any other aspect of the process are violating the Duke Community Standard. Additionally, sanctions for multiple infractions are typically more severe than sanctions for single infractions.

In cases where local, state, and/or federal laws may have been violated, the investigation may be postponed until the outcome of the legal investigation has been completed. Additionally, prior to investigation and resolution, interim restrictions may be placed on a student/group to protect the health and safety of students or the community. These restrictions may include a "no contact order," removal of privileges, removal from or relocation within the residential community, suspension of activity, or suspension from the university. An interim suspension from the university may be imposed by the dean of the Pratt School of Engineering or the vice president for student affairs, or designee, and shall become effective immediately without prior notice whenever there is evidence that the continued presence of the student may pose a substantial and immediate threat to themselves, to others, or to the university community. Should an interim suspension be issued and resolution of the matter that prompted it not be resolved within two weeks, the interim suspension may convert to an administrative leave of absence.

Cases may be dropped for insufficient information, or referred for possible disciplinary action. In order for a case to be referred for possible disciplinary action, there must be sufficient information to believe that a policy violation may have occurred and that the alleged individual/group may be responsible.

Resolving Violations. Alleged nonacademic violations are handled by administrative hearings. If the student admits to violating the policy and accepts responsibility for their actions, the associate dean of master’s programs will recommend the appropriate disciplinary action. Consequences may include probation, suspension, or expulsion, and/or assignments intended to educate the student about appropriate community behavior.

If the student believes the administrative hearing failed to consider relevant information, violated fair procedures in some other way, or imposed consequences inappropriate to the offense, they may appeal the decision to the associate dean for research and infrastructure. This appeal must be made within seven days of the administrative hearing’s decision.

Confidentiality

Information gathered in the process of resolving alleged Duke Community Standard violations is confidential. Information may be shared with the following entities or under the following circumstances:

  • with the accused student to inform them that they have been accused

  • with school officials with legitimate interest, such as the instructor of the class, administrators, Office of Student Affairs, Office of Student Conduct, Office of Institutional Equity

  • to comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena

  • to appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies

  • for any students involved in a joint-degree program or interdisciplinary coursework, with the other degree program

  • for students involved in interinstitutional coursework, with the other institution

Information about Duke Community Standard violations, their disposition, and consequences may be shared, with any identifying information removed, for the purposes of

  • educating students and faculty about Duke Community Standard violations;

  • ensuring consistency in responding to Duke Community Standard violations; and

  • reporting on Duke Community Standard violations to the university or to facilitate research on academic integrity.