Honor System

Avoiding Violations

General Guidelines

Instructors are encouraged to submit to the Honor Committee a written statement defining how the Statement of Academic Honesty applies to their courses or laboratories and to explain such guidelines to their students. Instructors may set any type of final examination or hour test, ranging from closed-book, alternate-seating classroom exercises to open-book, “take-home” examinations or papers, and any requirements for laboratory exercises. Some instructors encourage cooperation among students but others do not. If a student is unsure how the Honor Code applies in a particular situation, it is ultimately the student’s responsibility to find out from his or her professor, or from a member of the Honor Committee, how the Honor Code applies in that situation. An open and highly individualized system can last only as long as both the students and the faculty work together to create a true academic community.

In all written material, including ungraded assignments and drafts, students are expected to avoid the possibility of even unintentional plagiarism by acknowledging the sources of their work. Careful observance of accepted standards of reference and attribution is required. The basic rules are summarized below. Students are further advised to consult a recognized style manual to learn how to acknowledge sources correctly. While academic honesty does not demand a footnote on statements of common fact, it does require that a student provide clear footnotes or other appropriate documentation and give credit in the bibliography to ideas, interpretations, and facts that particular sources have contributed to the student’s final work.

The basic rules of attribution for all academic assignments, including homework, require that:

  1. A direct quotation (whether a single word, phrase, sentence, paragraph, or series of paragraphs) must always be identified by quotation marks, by indenting and single spacing, or by reduced type size of the quoted material, and a note must be used to state the exact source.
  2. A paraphrase of the work of another must be acknowledged as such by a note stating the source.
  3. Indebtedness to the specific ideas of others, or the summarizing of several pages, even though expressed in different words, must be acknowledged by a note stating the source.
  4. In every instance, the use of another student’s laboratory reports, computer programs, or other material must be acknowledged by a note.
  5. Even the use of a student’s own previous or concurrent work must be acknowledged; thus, a student must obtain the prior permission of both the previous and current instructors before submitting all or part of the same paper in more than one course.

NOTE: Attempts to gain academic advantage by misleading a professor are violations of the Honor Code. For example, if a student claims to have handed in an assignment, that work must actually have been submitted.

For Students

Resources on when to cite

If you are at all unsure about how to properly cite your work, you should always go speak to your professor first. They will know what they expect better than anyone else. These other resources are also available if you would like additional help:

  1. The Academic Resource Center
  2. The Williams College Library
  3. The Dean’s Office
  4. The Faculty and Student Chairs of the Honor Committee

For Faculty

Assembling your syllabus and course packet

When faculty do not provide any citations to the required course readings, either on the syllabus, on the title page of copied articles, or on a table of contents, then students are unable to provide the citations themselves, and might reasonably think that they may be held to this same low standard. Please model good citation practice by providing in at least one place in your course materials the complete references that students should use when drawing on the course readings for essays.

Decisions to make while writing the Honor Code section of your syllabus

Collaboration with classmates
If all papers and lab exercises are to be the work of an individual, remind students of this. Please do remind your students that the Honor Code applies as much to response papers, lab reports, and ungraded work as it does to term papers and exams. If students are allowed or encouraged to work with others, do they also have to acknowledge them? If they need to acknowledge others, does this mean simply recording classmates’ names or does it also involve identifying the shared idea? Does working together to draft a response using the computer, then emailing the draft to everyone, violate the injunction that one’s written work needs to be one’s own? Where exactly is that line?

Use of outside resources
If students are allowed to use some resources but not others, please make the distinction clear. May course readings and the student’s own class notes be supplemented by classmates’ notes? By published interpretation and criticism not assigned in class? By talking to their mom? By Wikipedia? By assigned readings that they have completed for another class the same semester?

Use of technology
Please make clear whether students are allowed to use smartphones or laptops, or to check their answers using reference books or technology, before handing in homework (as well as during class and on exams). May they use the iPhone’s clock function? The calculator? Dictionary?

Citation style
Sometimes when faculty ask students to write about a specific text or phenomenon, they allow the students to refer informally to that text. If everyone has read the same edition of Don Quixote, it might be acceptable for the student to refer to its page numbers without providing a full reference that includes the author, publisher and edition; the same might apply to articles from an assigned reading packet. Sometimes faculty require a full, formal citation. Making the required form clear, especially by using it to reference readings on the syllabus, is helpful. Do online response essays need formal citations? Ungraded responses? If formality varies, explain when and why. Please help get across to students that the style of a citation is not as important as the fact that the citation is provided. Using the wrong style is not an honor code violation. Failing to provide a citation is.

Common knowledge
Students increasingly claim that they neglected to cite something because the ideas they drew from it were “common knowledge.” This is hardly ever accurate. The common-knowledge rule of thumb applies to public facts–the US has 50 states, the Archduke was assassinated in 1914–not to interpretations, statistics, or even to particular formulations/phrasings of those facts. The content, for example, of Wikipedia and Sparknotes is proprietary, not common knowledge, and data drawn from the statistical handbook that the US Census Bureau puts out every year are the product of specific work, though they are in the public domain. Communicating this to students would be a big help.

Samples of different syllabus/assignment instructions

Africana Studies 217: Rac(e)ing Sports – Fall 2011 – (Rashida Braggs)

Academic Honesty
Students are expected to turn in their own work and to give credit to any sources that have contributed to their research, whether from classroom discussion, lectures or readings. Accordingly, I expect students to follow Williams’ honor code. More information on the honor code and support with how to cite can be found in the Student Handbook and in the Eph Survival Guide at http://web.williams.edu/resources/acad_resources/survival_guide/.


Art History 264: American Art and Architecture, 1600 to Present – Fall 2011 – (Michael Lewis)

A note on the Honor Code:
Williams College operates on an honor code, which is a rare thing these days. This is a two-way street. My side of the bargain is to presume that my students are acting honorably, and that I treat them with respect and trust, and not suspicion. The students’ part of the bargain is to live up to that trust. This means that you do your own work; that in your papers you cite any ideas taken from your research, using the conventional form of footnotes or endnotes, using quotation marks when exact phrases are cited (in general, do not use exact quotations unless the particular language is unusually expressive or revealing); and otherwise act according to the guidelines in the student handbook. Copying or downloading work without citation usually results in failure for the course. Please contact me if you have any questions about these rules.


Biology 101: The Cell – Fall 2011 – (Wendy Raymond)

Honor Code Guidelines
Examinations in Biology 101 are of the conventional type, and they are covered by the Statement on Academic Honesty as set forth in the Student Handbook. In the lab, students usually work in pairs but will work individually on laboratory notebooks and submit individual lab reports. Prior to the preparation of written work pertaining to the laboratory part of the course, you are encouraged to discuss with one another the interpretation of data, conclusions of experiments, and any other related matters pertaining to the assignment. However, there is to be no collaboration during the actual preparation of the written work; the preparation of all written work is covered by the Statement on Academic Honesty as set forth in the Student Handbook. You must indicate the names of any individuals with whom you discussed the laboratory or exercise. Any student who has any questions about the honor code should not hesitate to consult with me or his/her laboratory instructor.


Chemistry 361: Quantum Chemistry and Chemical Dynamics – Fall 2011 – (Dieter Bingemann)

Group work
I encourage you to work in groups to discuss problems and lab data analysis. However, you must hand in and take responsibility for your own solutions and lab reports. The data in your lab report must be the data that you and your lab partner collected in lab. All writing must be your own. Please meet with me first if you would like to collaborate on projects, so we can discuss the best approach.

Honor Code
Collaboration on problems and the discussion of the lecture and your lab results with your fellow students is highly encouraged, simply cite all sources (journals, books, people you had discussions with – you do not need to reference topics discussed in lecture) in your written work. Collaboration is not allowed for any other written work in the course (lab reports, final project paper). Copying problems or lab reports from students who have previously taken Chemistry 361 and handing them in as your own work is considered cheating. If you would like to collaborate on a project, please talk to me first. If you have questions about how the Honor Code, as described in the Statement of Academic Honesty in the Student Handbook, applies to any other work in this course, please consult me.


Chinese 301: Upper/Intermediate Chinese – Fall 2011 – (Cecilia Chang)

College policies concerning academic dishonesty will be strictly enforced.
Please pay attention to the statement on “Academic Honesty and Honor Code” in the student Handbook. If you have other questions on how the rules apply to this course in particular situations, please ask Prof. Chang. Close attention should be paid to the following honor code guidelines for this course:

  1. Use of translation services of any type – human, electronic, or on-line -is strictly forbidden.
  2. When using materials written in Chinese, both web-based and printed, students are subject to the rules of plagiarism. All sources of materials should be properly cited.
  3. Consulting with other native speakers for help on assignments should be restricted to clarifications on uses of word, phrase, and/or grammatical structures.
  4. Help from anyone other than the instructors on editing written reports is strictly prohibited.
  5. Students are not allowed to copy each other’s homework assignments; however, working in small groups is encouraged.

Classics 201: Intermediate Latin/The Late Republic – Fall 2011 – (Amanda Wilcox)

The Honor Code and cooperative preparation
I encourage you to cooperate in class preparation. Getting together with each other before class time to work through your assignments out loud and also meeting to review for exams or to read Latin for fun will improve your understanding of the flow of a speech’s argument or the artful word order of a poem, the syntax of lengthy sentences, and the peculiarities of Catullan and Ciceronian idiom faster and better than would working alone. You may also work together on some written assignments, notably the “prose composition” assignments noted in the schedule below, so long as the completed assignment is the result of equally shared effort by both (or all) parties. However, all written translations, essays or summaries, exams and quizzes must be solely the work of individual students working independently. This includes “translation assignments” noted in the schedule below. Please see the registrar’s website for a general statement of the College’s code of academic honesty. The Honor Code applies to your conduct in all aspects of this course. If you have any questions about what this adherence entails, please consult me.


Computer Science 373: Artifical Intelligence – Fall 2011 – (Andrea Danyluk)

Explanation of the Honor Code as it pertains to this course:
The Honor Code as it applies to non-programming assignments is outlined in the Student Handbook. Projects must contain only: code written solely by your group, code written by yourself or other CS 373 students this semester for previous assignments, and code from the starter for the assignment or from the starters for previous assignments. For the final project you may use external libraries with prior approval from me by e-mail. Code from previous assignments must be clearly credited where it is used and in a separate written note to me. It may be used only with permission of the students involved. You are welcome to discuss design, debugging, and mathematics related to projects with other students, but you may not review the code of other students for any current assignment. Note that using previously submitted code and discussing projects is a more liberal policy than the default CS department policy for programming projects. Coursework in this class reflects your maturity and is modeled on professional research and development: we tackle hard problems, and do so together. In all cases, we acknowledge the contribution of others. Recall that in accordance with the CS department policies, looking at any other computer user’s files without permission is unacceptable, regardless of whether those files are protected on the file system.

Geoscience 201: Geomorphology – Fall 2011 – (David Dethier)

Honor Code
You will submit group work with field partners for several labs, and you may collaborate with another person on the research project. I encourage you to consult with me, teaching assistants, or your classmates about any of your work in this course, but always acknowledge (in writing) your sources of information, whether published, personal conversations or Web sites (URLs). Hour exams are individual and closed book!


Math 315: Groups and Characters – Fall 2011 – (Mihai Stoicu)

Honor Code
All work on the exams must be done by you alone–you may NOT speak to any person about the exam until everyone has turned in the exam. All three exams will be open books and notes. You may work with classmates on homework, but the write-up of the homework must be on your own. In particular, do not give written-up homework to another student to look at. You should not look at any homework solutions until after turning in your homework.