Nicholas School Honor Code
The honor code observed in the Nicholas School of the Environment (the “Nicholas School”) follows the principles set out in the Duke Community Standard. Its procedures draw on those developed by the Duke undergraduate judicial system. You must sign to indicate your agreement to abide by the Duke Community Standard and its application in the Nicholas School before you may enroll.
- The Duke Community Standard
- Application of the Standard in the Nicholas School Definitions
- Academic Endeavors
- Non-academic Endeavors
- Creating a Community of Integrity
- Responding to Suspected Violations
- Resolving Violations
- For Concurrent Degree Students
- For Nicholas School Teaching Assistants
- For Nicholas School Faculty
- Examples of common NS honor code violations and sanctions
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 responsibly in all my endeavors; and
- I will act if the Standard is compromised.
Cheating. Cheating is the act of wrongfully using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, study aids, or the ideas or work of another in order to gain an unfair advantage. It includes, but is not limited to:
- plagiarism (see below)
- giving unauthorized aid to another student or receiving unauthorized aid from another person on tests, quizzes, assignments or examinations;
- using or consulting unauthorized materials or using unauthorized equipment;
- altering or falsifying any information on tests, quizzes, assignments or examinations;
- using any material portion of a paper or project to fulfill the requirements of more than one course unless the student has received prior faculty permission to do so;
- working on any examination, test, quiz or assignment outside of the time constraints imposed;
- submitting an altered examination or assignment to an instructor for regrading;
- failing to adhere to an instructor’s specific directions with respect to the terms of academic integrity or academic honesty.
Plagiarism. Occurs when a student presents any information, ideas or phrasing of another as if they were his/her own and/or does not give appropriate credit to the original source. Students are responsible for learning proper scholarly procedures which require that the source of information and ideas, if from another, must be identified and be attributed to that source.
Refer to the Duke University Library site for more details on plagiarism and tips on how to avoid it in your work, including how to take notes accurately and how to cite sources, including electronic sources. Here’s a helpful tutorial on plagiarism and how to avoid it, with examples drawn from experiences of Duke students. Information on internet research and sometimes inadvertent plagiarism is discussed here. In addition, students can take advantage of workshops on software useful for taking notes and keeping track of sources, given both by the Nicholas School and by the Duke Library.
The term “assignment” includes any work, required or volunteered, submitted for review and/or academic credit. All academic work undertaken by a student must be completed independently unless the faculty member or other responsible authority expressly authorizes collaboration with another.
Stealing. Stealing is the act of intentionally taking or appropriating the property of another, including academic work, without consent or permission and with the intent to keep or use the property without the permission of the owner or the rightful possessor.
The following sections provide additional information on the elements of the Duke Community Standard and its application in the Nicholas School. As a Nicholas School student, you are responsible for familiarizing yourself with this additional information and acting accordingly. For Nicholas School faculty, see a paragraph at the end.
- Use of library, reading room, and other study materials. Use these materials so that they remain in good shape and equally accessible for others (e.g., don’t monopolize course materials on reserve; don’t remove reading room materials except briefly for copying).
- Use of computer labs and other university computer resources. Observe priorities or time restrictions on computer use. If a computer appears to be in use by others, don’t disrupt their work. Don’t display objectionable material on-screen. Protect your on-screen work from viewing by others if it involves assignments.
- Homework assignments and projects. Be sure you understand the allowable level of consultation or collaboration with others, including those who may have taken the course previously. Do not use the same or similar work for more than one assignment (e.g., for papers in two courses) without explicit, prior permission from both instructors.
- Mailboxes and Drop-boxes. Do not examine or remove materials in another person’s mailbox or drop-box.
- Studying from old exams, homework, lab exercises. Be sure you understand which previous course materials you may use, if any. Such materials should be equally available to all.
- If the instructor has not already provided a place to do so, include this statement on any work you turn in and include your signature, “I have adhered to the Duke Community Standard in completing this assignment.”
The second clause of the Duke Community Standard extends its reach to non-academic activities undertaken as a Nicholas School student. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
- General conduct: conduct yourself in a manner that respects use of Duke facilities and events by others (e.g., clean up after yourself, protect the belongings and personal safety of others).
- Conduct on field trips: as a member of the Duke community, your conduct and behavior during field trips should reflect well on the university and its values and promote your own safety, as well as that of others. Obey all government ordinances and restrictions on drug, alcohol, tobacco or vehicle use.
- Alcohol policy for Nicholas School events
- Observe all local, state and federal laws.
- Safety: don’t prop doors open or admit unauthorized persons to Duke buildings; report suspicious activities.
The Nicholas School follows the policies of Duke University with respect to expectations for the behavior of students and faculty (e.g., concerning harassment, discrimination, safety of persons and property): https://web.duke.edu/policies/students/universitywide/alcohol.php.
Creating a climate characterized by integrity in academic and nonacademic activities is a joint responsibility of students, faculty, and staff. In addition to abiding by the terms of the Duke Community Standard yourself, you have a positive obligation to act, as described below, if you suspect the Standard has been compromised. Faculty and staff also share responsibility for integrity, especially (1) clarifying what is expected of students for academic assignments, (2) explicitly referring to the Duke Community Standard in classes, and (3) pursuing suspected cases of violation. In addition to signing the Duke Community Standard before enrollment, during orientation students must attend a student-led discussion of the Duke Community Standard as it applies to Nicholas School students.
The Nicholas School honor code operates in the context of an educational system, not as a legal system. The procedures and standards of evidence are intended to be fair and to give students accused of violations a chance to speak on their own behalf; they do not attempt to mimic those used in legal proceedings. Educating students to become professionals who behave with integrity is a primary goal of the NS honor code; pursuing this goal may include investigating a student’s work more broadly than the original allegations or imposing educational assignments as part of the sanction for a confirmed violation.
Your signature on the Duke Community Standard obliges you to take constructive action if you witness, or know about, behavior you perceive to be inconsistent with the Standard. Although there are no disciplinary sanctions associated with failure to act, you are, nonetheless, expected to take action—to do something—as a responsibility of membership in the Duke Community.
The university recognizes that it is not always easy to act on violations of the Duke Community Standard, but several alternatives are available:
- Speak directly with the individual exhibiting the behavior, both to gain clarity about the situation and to inform the individual about the concern;
- Publicly call attention to the behavior as it is occurring;
- For incidents involving non-academic behaviors, alert fellow students, Nicholas School staff, the Director of Professional Studies or other university staff. The information provided will give staff an opportunity to address the matter informally or through appropriate formal channels;
- For cases involving academic integrity, alert a faculty member, particularly if the alleged violation involves coursework, and/or the Director of Professional Studies. Faculty who learn of or suspect a violation of academic integrity by a professional Master’s student must also contact the Director of Professional Studies.
Students and faculty should feel free to discuss concerns about potential honor code violations with the Director of Professional Studies or the Assistant Dean for Academic and Enrollment Services in confidence. If there is reason to pursue an alleged violation, the Director of Professional Studies will initiate an investigation according to the procedures described below.
Procedures for resolving a suspected Community Standard violation depend on the severity of the allegation and the student’s disciplinary history. Once a suspected violation has been brought to the attention of the Director of Professional Studies, s/he will evaluate the charge and determine the proper course of action. If further investigation is warranted, the Director of Professional Studies will notify the person suspected of the violation. The Director also will also review the disciplinary record of the person suspected to determine whether previous allegations require a higher-level response to the current case.
Violations of Academic Standards
One-Time Student-Faculty Resolution.When the suspected violation of academic standards is viewed as minimal (see below), such that it would not put the student at risk of probation, suspension or expulsion, and when the student has not been charged with any previous violations, it may be possible to resolve the allegation at the level of the faculty member and the student. The first, and essential, stage in this process is for the faculty member to discuss the situation with the Director of Professional Studies (DPS) to determine (1) that the suspected violation is in fact “minimal,” and (2) that the student has not previously been accused of any violations. Previous accusations will automatically preclude future one-time faculty student resolution, except when the previous case has been resolved by clearing the student of any honor code violation. The DPS maintains a record of honor code violations, so that there is consistency in defining what violations are “minimal;” that the consequences for various types of violations are consistent, and that repeated incidents involving the same student are known.
Examples of “minimal” violations include carelessness in crediting sources in a single piece of draft work (e.g., a draft of a course paper or an MP) and single instances of incorrect assumptions about what level of collaboration is permissible on an assignment or what materials may be used to prepare an assignment or study for an exam (e.g., course materials from prior years).
In investigating alleged honor code violations, it is appropriate for the faculty member to look back at the student’s earlier work in the course; and, if there is specific reason to believe that other work completed by the student previously or contemporaneously on similar subjects (e.g., work in another course or a masters project) might also be in violation of the honor code, it is appropriate for the faculty member to call these reasons to the attention of the Director of Professional Studies for further investigation.
If all the conditions for one-time faculty-student resolution have been met, the instructor may impose consequences for the violation (and inform the DPS of those consequences). These could include receiving a failing grade on an assignment, an exam, or even an entire course; repeating one or more assignments; and/or completing a separate assignment, including an educational essay on the type of violation the student has committed.
If a faculty member does not wish to pursue the one-time student-faculty resolution option, s/he may refer the case to an administrative hearing (see below). If the student does not accept the resolution proposed by the faculty member, s/he may request that the case be referred to an administrative hearing. In resolving a case at the level of an administrative hearing, if the allegation is found to be unwarranted, the faculty member may not penalize the student in terms of grades.
The DPS will keep a record of all one-time faculty-student resolutions, but that record will not become part of a student’s academic file unless there is a second incident involving the same student in which the student is not cleared of all alleged violations.
Administrative Hearing. If (1) the suspected academic violation is not “minimal,” (2) there have been any previous honor code incidents involving the student in which the student was not cleared of all alleged violations, or (3) the faculty member chooses not to resolve the case, or if the student disagrees with the instructor’s proposed resolution, the case is then evaluated through an administrative hearing. Alleged non-academic violations are handled by administrative hearing.
The DPS and the Assistant Dean for Academic and Enrollment Services will hear from the student accused of the violation and the person(s) making the allegation and review any relevant documents. The administrative hearing panel will investigate in response to the allegations received from a faculty or staff member or from another student, but may investigate more widely (e.g., examine work from another course or from a MP) if there is some specific reason to do so and may urge other course instructors or the MP adviser to examine the student’s work more closely. Although the administrative hearing typically takes place in person, it may sometimes be necessary to receive information by phone or email to resolve the case in a timely way, particularly when classes are not in session. The DPS and Assistant Dean for Academic and Enrollment Services will jointly decide whether there is clear and convincing evidence of the alleged violation. If so, they will jointly determine consequences proportional to the violation and consistent with the resolution of similar violations. Consequences may include probation, suspension, dismissal or expulsion, and/or assignments intended to educate the student about academic integrity. Consequences may include recommendations to a course instructor with respect to grades on assignments and on the course as a whole, but final authority for these rests with the instructor (except as noted above when the allegations are found to be unwarranted).
If the student is not willing to accept the resolution imposed by the administrative hearing, s/he may request that the case be re-heard by an ad hoc judicial panel (see below).
The DPS will keep a record of the hearing and the resolution of the case, which will become part of the student’s file. If there has been a previous one-time resolution between the student and a faculty member, it will become part of the student’s file as well.
Ad Hoc Judicial Panel. Requests for a re-hearing of a case previously resolved at the administrative hearing level will be heard by an ad hoc judicial panel composed of five members, including at least two Nicholas School students, at least two Nicholas School faculty or staff members, and the Senior Associate Dean, who will participate as a silent observer and vote only in case of a tie. Potential student members will be suggested by the honor code representative(s) from the Nicholas School Student Council (NSSC). Potential faculty/staff members will be suggested by the DPS. To avoid any perception of potential conflicts of interest, a staff member from another school (e.g., undergraduate student conduct office, graduate school or another professional school) experienced in conducting honor code cases will serve as the process moderator for the ad hoc judicial panel, overseeing the selection of panel members, investigation and presentation of evidence, and the conduct of the hearing itself. The DPS will be present to help maintain continuity and consistency of procedures from one level to another and from one case to another, but is not a voting member of the ad hoc judicial panel. The student suspected of the violation may object in writing if s/he believes any member of the proposed panel has a conflict of interest that could jeopardize a fair judgment. The judicial panel will receive all evidence obtained by the administrative hearing panel and the report of the administrative hearing panel, but may also pursue additional investigation if there is good reason to do so, including reviewing previous work completed by the student or contemporaneous work in other courses or in a MP. Any of the judicial panel members or the student may ask for evidence to be presented in writing or by witnesses. The accused student may consult others for advice at his/her discretion and may bring a member of the Duke community (student, faculty or staff member) to the hearing as an adviser (but the adviser does not speak to the judicial panel or to any witnesses). The four primary panel members (two students, two faculty or staff members) will attempt to decide by consensus whether a violation occurred and what the consequences should be; where consensus is not possible, a vote will determine the outcome, with the Senior Associate Dean voting only when needed to break a tie vote. The DPS will review the draft decision before it is communicated to the students or to other participants, in order to point out potential inconsistencies with precedent or unintended consequences. However, the final decision will rest with the panel. The findings of the ad hoc judicial panel may differ from those of the administrative hearing, and, even when the findings are the same, the consequences imposed by the ad hoc judicial hearing may be either more or less serious than those imposed by the administrative hearing. A record of the judicial hearing will be kept by the DPS and made part of the student’s file. There are no further avenues of appeal beyond the ad hoc judicial panel.
Additional details of ad hoc judicial panel procedures may be requested from the Director of Professional Studies.
Violations of Non-Academic Standards
Resolution of alleged violations of non-academic standards will follow procedures outlined above for resolution of alleged violations of academic standards. The Director of Professional Studies will evaluate the allegation and determine the proper course of action. If further investigation is warranted, the Director of Professional Studies will notify the person suspected of the violation. The allegation will be evaluated through an Administrative Hearing. If the student is not satisfied with the resolution proposed by the Administrative Hearing panel, s/he may request a re-hearing by an Ad Hoc Judicial Panel, as described above.
Confidentiality. Information shared in the course of resolving alleged violations is confidential; student records of disciplinary actions will be maintained in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Information about honor code violations will be shared in these circumstances: (1) A student accused of a violation that will be investigated further has a right to know that s/he has been accused. (2) Information about honor code violations, their disposition and consequences may be shared, with any identifying information removed, for the purposes of (a) educating students and faculty about honor code violations, (b) ensuring consistency in responding to honor code violations, and (c) reporting on honor code violations to the University or to facilitate research on academic integrity. When the student population is small, special care must be taken in describing honor code violations so that identity cannot be readily deduced from the details of the case.
The Nicholas School will share information about honor code violations involving concurrent degree students (both those that are resolved by one-time faculty/student interaction and those resolved by administrative hearing or ad hoc judicial panels) with the student’s other degree program. The Nicholas School will ask the other school to observe the same guidelines regarding confidentiality of information and student records as are observed here. The Nicholas School will ask other degree programs to reciprocate by sharing information on honor code violations by concurrent degree students with the Nicholas School. When sanctions imposed by one degree program could affect the concurrent degree student’s status in the other program (e.g., probation, suspension, dismissal), the Nicholas School will coordinate with the other degree program to ensure that the sanction has the intended effect.
University Judicial Board
The Nicholas School participates in the University Judicial Board, which hears cases arising out of the pickets and protests regulations and cases involving more than one Duke community (e.g., both undergraduate and graduate, or two professional schools).
Please refer to the suggestions for faculty, given below. Remember to alert the course instructor of suspected violations, and remember to respect student confidentiality.
Faculty Responsibilities. Faculty help create a community of integrity by: (1) including the Duke Community Standard in course syllabi; (2) discussing academic integrity, responsible citation of sources, and related topics in class and when advising students; (3) clarifying, in writing, expectations about who or what students may consult in completing each assignment, (4) providing the statement “I have adhered to the Duke Community Standard in completing this assignment” and a signature line at the beginning of all assignments, including exams; (5) creating conditions that minimize the temptation to cheat; (6) being alert to possible violations; and (7) following up on suspected and reported cases of academic integrity violations.
Proctoring of exams is not required, but is left to the discretion of the instructor. When deciding whether to proctor exams, consider the size of the class and the type of exam.
Respond to suspected violations that you observe or those that are reported to you by alerting the Director of Professional Studies.
If a violation of academic integrity occurs in a course, the instructor has authority over how the violation affects grading for the course. When there is going to be an administrative hearing or a judicial panel hearing of the suspected violation (see above), an instructor may choose to wait for the resolution of the hearing(s) before deciding on the grade consequences of the violation. If an alleged violation is found to be without substance, the instructor may not impose a grade consequence.
These examples are cited to provide students and faculty with some guidance on what to expect; particular circumstances may cause individual cases to deviate from these examples.
Failure to cite sources properly (including unattributed paraphrasing in an ungraded draft course paper or draft MP): The student will be required to analyze each instance of improper citation, analyzing what was wrong and then revising and citing properly. Student will also be required to research and write a 1500-word essay on who is harmed by plagiarism, with care taken to cite sources properly.
Failure to cite sources properly in a graded course paper (including exams or papers in lieu of exams) or final MP: Same as above, plus at the course instructor’s discretion, a grade of F or zero may be awarded for the question in which plagiarism occurred, for the whole exam or paper, or for the entire course. Improper citations in an MP must be analyzed and corrected and an educational essay written, as above, before the MP can be accepted and posted to the Duke electronic archives. If the MP has already been accepted, it will be withdrawn from the Duke archives pending analysis and corrections, at which point it will be re-posted. If an MP is not corrected satisfactorily, a previously awarded degree could be withdrawn.
Note re graduation delays: Failing a course or failing to have an MP accepted on time due to honor code violations can delay graduation until all required courses and credits have been completed and a satisfactory MP has been submitted and accepted.
More serious cases of plagiarism, including multiple instances of failure to cite sources properly and blatant copying of large amounts of uncited material, can result in more serious sanctions, including probation and suspension for one or more semesters.
Inappropriate collaboration on course assignments, including exams, and use of unauthorized materials (e.g., course materials from previous years) when completing course assignments or exams: Depending on the extent and severity of inappropriate collaboration or unauthorized use of materials, and depending on whether the violation appeared to be intentional (claims of misunderstanding the instructions will not necessarily result in leniency; the burden is on the student to clarify the directions for an assignment or exam), the course instructor may reduce points awarded or give grades of F or zero, on all or part of an assignment or an exam, or for the entire course. In addition students will be required to research and write an essay of at least 1500 words, with sources properly cited, on who is harmed when students collaborate inappropriately or use unauthorized materials. The instructor also has discretion to issue a warning in cases where s/he is not sure whether a violation has actually occurred.
More serious cases of cheating, such as taking and copying another student’s work, obtaining an exam ahead of time, or engaging in a deliberate attempt to gain an advantage over other students by cheating will result in additional sanctions, which may include probation, suspension or even dismissal.
Note on unresolved cases: In some cases, an instructor will be sure that an honor code violation has occurred, but will not be able to resolve who is responsible. The instructor has discretion to respond to such instances by discarding the assignment or exam in question or reducing its value for all students in the course, or for all students who may have been involved in the violation.
Non-academic violations: Failing to abide by the NS honor code on field trips, during NS social events, or when using university facilities can result in sanctions such as an essay of 1500 words, with sources properly researched and cited, on who is harmed by such behavior, as well as loss of privileges to participate in such events or use such facilities for a period of time (as determined by the administrative hearing panel). Similarly, a student organization found to have violated the honor code could lose its right to undertake activities for a period as determined by the administrative hearing panel.