At Liberty University, we place a high value on honesty and integrity in our community. You are an integral part of this community, and we expect you to uphold and esteem the university’s values and observe four key academic integrity principles when completing your coursework; honesty, originality, authenticity, and attribution.
The Office of Academic Integrity challenges students to honor Christ in all academic pursuits by fostering a learning environment that values integrity, fairness, ownership, trust, and personal responsibility.
What is Academic Integrity?
According to The Liberty Way, Academic Misconduct is considered conduct that undermines the academic integrity of Liberty University and includes, but is not limited to, academic dishonesty, plagiarism, and falsification.
Below are some tips and frequently asked questions regarding Academic Misconduct to clarify our policies and expectations for your academic coursework. If you have further questions, please review the Academic Misconduct section of The Liberty Way.
Avoiding Academic Misconduct
Plagiarism as defined in the Liberty Way is “the failure to give attribution to the words, ideas, images, or information of others on papers, projects or any assignment prepared for a course”. When aiming to avoid plagiarism, it is important to keep two key concepts in mind; originality and attribution. To avoid plagiarism your work must be an original work that you created. Your work should be in every sense, your work. Referring to sources is appropriate and necessary, but it must be done in the proper format. Citing sources incorrectly does not give sufficient credit to the work of that author. Please take time to review the format required for your assignments to insure you are citing sources correctly. Missing or improper citation/references is avoidable and can save yourself from being under suspicion for inadvertent plagiarism.
Language Processing Tool
Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology has provided access to exciting and advanced language-processing aids, such as ChatGPT. ChatGPT can be very useful for helping students overcome various barriers that may occur when crafting their coursework. ChatGPT can be viewed as a tool that is available to give feedback, inspiration, suggestions, alternatives, etc. However, students are advised to educate themselves on the limits of ChatGPT and the quality of the information it is able to provide. It is also important to understand its ethical use in academia. As stated in the Liberty Way, AI aids like ChatGPT should not be used to generate content that is then submitted for credit in a course. Originality and authenticity are two key academic integrity principles that students are expected to adhere to. A student’s work should be work that was personally authored by that student only. Coursework should not be created by someone or something else.
Collaboration is encouraged if appropriate boundaries are observed when providing input on each other’s work. Collaboration should never involve students giving possession of their work to others. This includes giving answers to exam and quiz questions. Once your work has left your possession, the integrity of the course may be considered compromised. Collaboration should also not involve students modifying another student’s work. Feedback and suggestions are acceptable; modifying or creating content is not.
Role of Time Management
One of the most significant factors in academic misconduct situations is poor time management. Students often face significant stressors when completing their coursework and time constraints are often one of those stressors. Sometimes, those time constraints are due to circumstances beyond the student’s control, but in many cases, poor time management was preventable. A lack of time management can produce or exacerbate high-stress situations where students decide to commit academic misconduct in an effort to save time or bring closure to a challenging assignment. Planning adequate time for coursework and accounting for unexpected circumstances that may compete for your time can lay a great foundation for academic success. The Academic Success Center has great tips and tools for better time management as a college student.
Assignments Found Online
Unfortunately, there are websites that contain complete or partial assignments from current and former LU students and students from other institutions. This content should never be accessed as “stealing, buying, receiving, selling or transmitting coursework of any kind” is strictly prohibited in the Liberty Way. If it comes to your attention that your coursework or another student’s coursework is online, please contact the Office of Community Life.
I have been reported for academic misconduct, what do I do now?
Once reported, you have the opportunity to appeal up to two times. You will receive an e-mail notification when a report is filed and link to the appeal portal (Beacon). Your appeal is reviewed by the academic leadership of that department. If you experience any issues in completing your appeal, please contact the Office of Community Life.
How do I appeal?
To officially appeal, visit Beacon and select the “Appeal” option. There is an appeal window of 7 calendar days after the official notification of the report is received.
What happens if my appeal is denied?
If the first appeal is denied, you can submit a second appeal through Beacon. If the second appeal is denied, the decision is considered final and no further appeals will be accepted. The sanctions in the final decision will be implemented.
If I fail a course due to academic misconduct, can I retake the class?
Any student who receives a grade of “F” for academic misconduct will be allowed to repeat the class. Please note that the Repeat Policy may not apply in every instance. We recommend that you consult with your Academic Advisor or the Registrar’s Office to discuss your options.
How will an academic misconduct report affect my future? Is this in my permanent record?
All academic misconduct records are confidential and housed with the Office of Community Life. Grades of “F” for academic misconduct receive no unique notation on your academic transcript. It will simply appear as an “F”. An Honor Code violation for academic misconduct may also be issued by the Office of Community Life according to the process outlined in the Liberty Way. Please review how FERPA protects your student records.
Can I be dismissed from the university for academic misconduct?
The Liberty Way provides a list a of all possible sanctions for Honor Code violations. In cases of severe and/or reoccurring academic misconduct, the sanction of dismissal may be considered.
How can I guard against unintentional plagiarism?
Proper research, writing, and citation are skills can be difficult to master. We highly recommend taking full advantage of the academic resources that the university provides to all students.
What is “self-plagiarism” and why is it considered academic misconduct?
Self-plagiarism is reusing work that was already submitted for credit in a class. Reusing work is discouraged as assignments are designed to promote new scholarship and current ideas. Reusing work is only permitted with the permission of both professors. This is outlined in the Liberty Way as seen here: “Submitting work previously used to fulfill academic requirements for any course at any institution at any level, including Liberty University, without permission from both faculty members.”
Do I need to report academic misconduct?
Yes. If academic misconduct is discovered, it should be reported in Beacon. This allows the university to identify any trends in academic integrity issues. The Office of Community Life also relies on these reports in order to address severe and/or reoccurring incidents of academic misconduct.
Do I need to let my student know that I am filing a report?
Yes. The student should be made aware of your concerns and that a report is forthcoming.
What can I tell my student to expect once they are reported for academic misconduct?
You are welcome (but not required) to inform the student of the loss of points or grade reduction they will receive. The student can be advised that they will receive the opportunity to appeal their grade deduction and the Office of Community Life may be in contact with them. Once the student is reported, they are also provided this information via e-mail.
What should I include in the report?
Your report should include a summary of the incident; how and when it was discovered, the student’s response (if any), and any applicable documents i.e. Turnitin reports, a copy of the assignment, etc.
What penalty to the student’s grade can I implement according to policy?
There is a tier system in place to guide appropriate grade deductions due to academic misconduct. These options are presented in the report. Please note that students may petition for a lesser penalty through the appeal process.
If I discover academic misconduct after the class is over, can I still report it?
Yes. Policy does not put any time limitations on when academic misconduct can be reported. Beacon may not accept reports for classes over one semester old. If this applies to your situation, please contact the Office of Community Life.
What if I believe the academic misconduct was unintentional?
We fully acknowledge that academic misconduct can occur where the student’s intentions were not dishonest and/or they sought no unfair advantage. However, any incident, regardless of known or perceived intent, should be reported. Students are welcome to appeal and seek an alternative outcome to their situation.
What if I discover academic misconduct for a student that is not in my class?
Please contact the Office of Community Life. We will inform the student’s professor of the issue.
How should I report a student who has committed academic misconduct in my class multiple times?
A report should be filed for each assignment; even if academic misconduct is discovered on multiple assignments at once. One report per assignment assists in alerting the university of possible patterns of misconduct.
How do I apply the grade adjustments?
After filing the report, the professor should adjust the student’s grade on the assignment within the grade book. For students receiving a grade of ‘F’ for the entire class (tier 5), the grade will be posted by the Registrar and does not need to be posted by the professor.
Can the student appeal and am I involved in the appeal process?
Student are always given the option to appeal any academic misconduct report up to two times through Beacon. Appeals do not go to the professor for review. If an appeal is granted and the student’s grade needs to be adjusted, the professor will be contacted so those changes can be implemented.
If the student is receiving a grade of ‘F’ for academic misconduct (Tier 5), do I still grade their other work?
Yes. If the student continues to submit work in the class after being reported for academic misconduct, that work should still be graded. If the student’s appeal is granted, then that student will not be at risk of being behind in class.
What if I need to delete or modify a report I entered?
Please contact the Office of Community Life. We are glad to make any needed changes.
How can I detect or prevent academic misconduct in my class?
Provide clear and frequent instruction to students on the importance of completing course work with integrity. Feel free to be upfront about the possible consequences for academic misconduct.
Use tools like Turnitin to identify possible issues in coursework originality.
During exams/quizzes, be mindful of students using devices such as phones, tablets, smart watches, ear buds, and small cameras. Be aware of students who may have written information on their clothing, arm, hand, water bottle, etc. If possible, arrange classroom seating to limit distractions and the opportunity for students to see the work of their classmates during exams/quizzes.