Students' Guide to Academic Integrity

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 will be required 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.  

 

Frequently Asked Questions for Students

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 your 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 can submitting my work more than once be considered academic dishonesty?

Each class comes with its own requirements and assignments that have been designed to meet the mission of that particular course. When you “recycle” work from one class for another, you typically are not meeting the educational goals of each unique class.  You should check with your professors before re-using any content from one course in another.

My instructor says I plagiarized, but I used my own words so how can that be?

Plagiarism is not just about quoting from other people. If you use any ideas from any source without properly letting the reader know exactly where that idea came from, it is plagiarism. To learn more about the different kinds of plagiarism and how to avoid it, check out the College of Arts & Letters' tutorial on Avoiding Plagiarism.  

If I violate the Academic Integrity Policy, what can happen?

Depending on the severity of the offense, you can receive sanctions such as an F for the assignment or an XF for the course. The grade of XF will be recorded on the transcript with the notation “Failure due to academic misconduct.” The XF cannot be replaced by retaking the course. 

Is it possible to remove an XF from my transcript?

If a student has never been given an XF before, he or she may petition to have the “X” part of the grade removed after completing an Academic Integrity Remediation Program.  A maximum of one XF can be changed to an F during a six-year period. Students who wish to petition to remove an “X” should contact the Office of the Provost or email integrity@usm.edu.

Can I appeal an XF or another penalty for academic misconduct?

Yes. All students have the right to appeal a penalty for academic misconduct, including an XF grade. Appeals must be initiated within 30 school days of the semester following the one in which the XF was given (or 120 calendar days in the case of spring semester for those not enrolled during summer). Students should complete the Academic Integrity Appeal form and take that to a meeting with the instructor and chair of the department in which the course was taught. They will sign the form to confirm the meeting. The form should then be submitted to the Office of the Provost or emailed to integrity@usm.edu before the deadline for initiating the appeal. 

What happens during an appeals process?

Once the official appeals form is submitted to the Office of the Provost, all parties will have 30 days to submit any written materials they would like to be considered. An hearing before the Academic Integrity Appeals Board will be scheduled within 90 days from the date of the official form being submitted. At the hearing, all parties have the right to speak and bring witnesses who have direct information related to the alleged misconduct. After the hearing, the Board will determine whether the academic integrity penalty was appropriate or whether it should be changed.  All parties will be notified within five working days of the hearing. 

If I do have an XF on my transcript, what are the consequences?

Everyone who sees your transcript will see the notation of “failure due to academic misconduct,” which could shape how you are seen by future employers or schools. Additionally, students with an XF grade cannot graduate with honors. Students who receive three XF grades will be automatically suspended; students with four or more XF grades will be expelled.

 

Helpful Links

 

Plagiarism: How to Avoid It 

from Bainbridge State College

 

Questions?

Questions regarding academic integrity should be sent to integrity@usm.edu.