Dean Miller: Academic Integrity

Dear Students,

Academic integrity, for all its recent media attention, is something we should always be thinking about as members of an academic community. With the opening days now behind us, and with many of you now handing in papers, lab reports, and problem sets, I hope you will take some time to identify and use the resources that will help you understand academic integrity and why Yale places so much value on it.

Every semester, the Executive Committee hears cases of plagiarism, sometimes from students who in their haste forget to cite their sources and other times from students who don’t understand how to cite them properly. As a college student, you will use sources you did not encounter in high school; you will also study subjects that are new to you. As your knowledge grows and as your academic work develops, you will continually learn new ways to cite your sources, in most cases from your instructors. In general, here are some guidelines you should always keep in mind.

  • You need to cite all sources used for papers, including drafts of papers, and repeat the reference each time you use the source in your written work.
  • You need to place quotation marks around any cited or cut-and-pasted materials, IN ADDITION TO footnoting or otherwise marking the source.
  • If you do not quote directly – that is, if you paraphrase – you still need to mark your source each time you use borrowed material. Otherwise you have plagiarized.
  • It is also advisable that you list all sources consulted for the draft or paper in the closing materials, such as a bibliography or roster of sources consulted.
  • You may not submit the same paper, or substantially the same paper, in more than one course. If topics for two courses coincide, you need written permission from both instructors before either combining work on two papers or revising an earlier paper for submission to a new course.

Collaborating with your peers can sometimes help you master material better than you can on your own, and some of your instructors will therefore ask you to work together on certain assignments. Other times, however, you must work alone, and doing otherwise may expose you to charges of academic dishonesty. When you do collaborate, then, always be sure it is with your instructor’s permission, and be careful not to assume that prior permission to collaborate on one assignment implies future permission to collaborate on others. Whenever you’re in doubt – whether you’re working on a problem set, a lab report, a paper, an examination, or any other assignment – ask.

Your instructors will always be your first resource when you have questions about proper citation and maintaining academic integrity in your work. And remember, too, that beyond being able to tell you about conventions for citation in their respective fields and clarifying whether or not you may collaborate, your instructors can offer much more: they can point you toward scholarly resources, help you develop your ideas, and suggest approaches to your material. The Writing Center can also help. Its website <>  provides information about academic integrity and the proper use of sources in academic writing, and its tutors can tell you more about incorporating into your own work the ideas of scholars who have preceded you. The Writing Center is working on another resource, an online module that teaches more about using sources; you will be hearing more about it soon.

Your instructors value academic integrity for reasons that should seem obvious: they expect scholars to receive credit for their work, and they expect students not to gain an unfair advantage over their peers by receiving credit for work they did not do. Less obvious but even more important, your instructors see your work not so much as a tool to evaluate what you know but as the means by which you learn. You uphold academic integrity, then, not only to comply with Yale’s Undergraduate Regulations but also to allow Yale to fulfill its mission: to educate you.

Yours truly,

Mary Miller

Dean of Yale College

Sterling Professor of History of Art