Academic Integrity Policy & Reporting

At the University of Southern Mississippi, we expect everyone in our community to operate with academic integrity, holding to the highest standards of scholarly professionalism. Our campus should be characterized by honest, responsible, respectful and ethical behavior, and the Academic Integrity Policy reflects this expectation. 

 

Our Academic Integrity Policy

The Southern Miss Academic Integrity Policy includes:

  • Our University’s definitions of “academic misconduct”;
  • Sanctions imposed for academic misconduct, including the “XF” grade;
  • Consequences of receiving an XF; and
  • Processes for appeal in cases of alleged misconduct. 

View Academic Integrity Policy

Students at the University of Southern Mississippi are responsible for understanding and following this policy.  All students are to complete an educational online module regarding academic integrity, and additional workshops will be available through University Libraries for those who would like additional information.  

 

Academic Integrity Reporting

Faculty must include the Academic Integrity statement on all syllabi, beginning in Fall 2016.  Cases of academic misconduct that faculty determine to be serious, whether resulting in a grade of XF or not, should be reported for the purposes of University-wide data collection and identification of areas in which further education is needed.

Report an Academic Integrity Issue

 

 

FAQ for Faculty

What does the University consider to be “academic misconduct”?

Academic misconduct includes a range of actions: cheating; plagiarism; acquiring information (like test questions) inappropriately; lying about academic matters or falsifying information (like service hours or internship work); stealing or defacing anything related to the academic mission of the University; submitting work (like a paper or part of a paper) to multiple instructors without their permission; and/or conspiracy to do any of these violations.

How are students learning about the Academic Integrity Policy?

All students at Southern Miss are to complete an online educational module on academic integrity in general and our policy specifically. Information will also be sent to them via email, through student organizations, on social media, and at events for new students. Students will be pointed to the Student FAQ and other information on the Provost’s website.  Students will also be able to attend workshops in the library if they’d like to know more.

What are my obligations to explain the policy to students?

Per the Academic Integrity Policy, faculty members must include the official statement on academic integrity on all syllabi, beginning with fall 2016.  It is helpful if faculty members also take a few minutes in class to call students’ attention to this statement and emphasize the core value of integrity as part of our University community. Instructors are encouraged to reinforce the message that in a scholarly community we expect professional integrity.

I’d like to require my students to put an integrity statement of some kind on all their tests and papers. What should I use?

The Academic Integrity Policy includes an “Integrity Agreement” that all students will be required to acknowledge upon admission in future semesters. Faculty members may also require students to include this statement on the cover page of papers or assignments, or to sign it at the top of each test:

As a member of the Southern Miss community, I will act with honor and integrity at all times. I will not engage in any act of academic misconduct, and I understand that such acts violate the Academic Integrity Policy and Student Honor Code and undermine the community of trust so important to the integrity of the University.

If a student violates the policy, what should I do? What can I do?

All faculty members control the grading policies for their courses, and the penalties given for academic misconduct should be decided by the faculty member. Faculty members must make their classroom policies clear to students and be consistent in the application.  Faculty members “must make every effort” to talk with a student who has violated the Academic Integrity Policy to discuss their misconduct, evidence for the behavior, the penalty given, and the right to an appeal.

Cases of academic misconduct, whether or not a penalty is applied by the faculty member, should be reported.  Faculty members may also refer students with minor issues to an educational workshop hosted by University Libraries.

In cases where a faculty member believes an academic penalty is warranted, the faculty member can give a lowered grade for the assignment/test, a 0 for the test, or an XF for the course (see below).

I have a student who engaged in some low-level misconduct, and I don’t want to penalize them academically. Should I still report it?

Yes.  All cases of Academic Integrity Policy violations should be reported through the University’s form, even if no academic penalty is given. We will use this information to identify areas where education is needed and to track repeated cases of egregious misconduct from a student in multiple classes.

When should I give the XF grade, and what happens if I do? How is it different from a regular F?

The XF grade can be assigned as a course grade when faculty determine it is an appropriate penalty for academic misconduct. The XF grade is transcripted as “failure due to academic misconduct,” and it cannot be replaced by retaking the course. A student can, however, petition one time in a six-year period to remove the “X” notation through a remediation program. Students who have three XFs transcripted are suspended from the University; those with four XFs are expelled.

I penalized a student academically for academic misconduct, and they want to appeal. How do they do that?

The student will need to begin by getting the Academic Integrity Appeal Form and writing a statement about why they believe the penalty should be removed. They can begin the appeals process whenever the penalty is given and do not have to wait until the end of the term. After the statement is written, they will need to meet with you and the chair to review the allegations and their argument against the sanction. If they wish to continue the appeal, they should take the form, their statement, and a statement (with associated documentation) from you to the Office of the Provost. The chair may also provide a statement but is not required to do so.  When the Provost’s office receives the material, all parties will receive formal notification and be given 30 days to provide any materials they wish to submit to the Appeals Board. An appeal hearing will be scheduled within 90 days of the form being submitted to the Office of the Provost.  Further details can be seen in the policy.

I read about the “Academic Integrity Office” in the policy. Where is that? How do I contact them?

The Office of the Provost is currently serving as the Academic Integrity Office. The office is in Kennard-Washington Hall, and questions can be sent to the Provost's Office via integrity@usm.edu.

Who is on the Academic Integrity Appeals Board?

The Academic Integrity Appeals Board is composed of five members: three faculty members and two students. The Provost solicits recommendations from the Attorney General of the Student Government Association, the President of the Graduate Student Senate, and the President of Faculty Senate, then appoints a board. This board will only review academic integrity penalty appeals. 

 

Further Reading About Academic Integrity

  • "50 Ways to Jumpstart Academic Integrity Discussions in Your Class" - developed by Renée Gravois Lee, Sam Houston State University and Lisa M. Burns, Quinnipiac University
  • The Plagiarism Spectrum - "The Plagiarism Spectrum identifies 10 types of plagiarism based on findings from a worldwide survey of nearly 900 secondary and higher education instructors. Each type has been given an easy-to-remember moniker to help students and instructors better identify and discuss the ramifications of plagiarism in student writing.

 

Questions?

Questions regarding academic integrity should be sent to the Provost's Office via integrity@usm.edu.