Academic Integrity and Professionalism

What is Academic Integrity?

Academic integrity is not just the avoidance of cheating, falsification, fabrication, and plagiarism. It is also, and more importantly, promoting honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage. These six values, described by the International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI) as The Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity, should guide all your actions as a student and as a future professional engineer.

Academic integrity is:

  • being honest and truthful in doing your own work;
  • trusting yourself and your abilities;
  • making the effort to work hard and do your best;
  • honestly describing and representing circumstances and conditions;
  • taking responsibility for your own successes and failures;
  • respecting yourself, your peers, your professors, and those you serve; and
  • having the courage to choose potential failure over academic dishonesty.

What is Professionalism?

Professionalism is the “skill, good judgement, and polite behavior expected from a person who is trained to do a job well” (Merriam-Webster, n.d.). Professionalism is not the job you do, it is how you do the job. Professionalism is a critical factor to becoming a successful engineer because your degree of professionalism can make or break your career. In other words, professionalism can lead to promotions and opportunities, or it can lead to layoffs and job loss.

Professionalism encompasses a variety of qualities and behaviors including:

  • integrity and acting ethically
  • effective communication
  • respectful and appropriate behavior and language
  • effectively using time to be productive and organized
  • displaying competence and knowledge
  • professional appearance and image
  • reliability and conscientiousness
  • responsibility and accountability
  • initiative and resourcefulness
  • self-confidence and poise
  • emotional control, intelligence, and positive attitude
  • continuous improvement and lifelong learning
  • high standard of excellence

Why are Academic Integrity and Professionalism of Utmost Importance for a Successful Engineering Career?

As an engineer, you will serve society by designing, creating, and developing new and amazing technologies. Your actions will directly affect the health, safety, and security of hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people. This is a sacred trust. Committing to and abiding by the principles of academic integrity and professionalism today will lead to engineering honesty and integrity in the future.

How do I Cultivate my Academic Integrity and Professionalism?

Some aspects of academic integrity and professionalism are obvious, but others are not so clear. Below is information that will help you understand what the USU College of Engineering expects of you as you learn to be an engineer.

Positive Habits for Cultivating Your Academic Integrity

  1. Read the course syllabus and listen in class so you understand what each professor expects regarding academic integrity.
  2. Ask your professor for clarification if you are unsure.
  3. Use only professor-approved resources, including calculators and software tools, to complete your work.
  4. Start your homework early so you can finish before the due date and avoid compromising situations.
  5. Utilize your resources to learn and understand and not just to get an answer.
  6. Cite your sources when writing code, papers, and reports.
  7. Report academic integrity violations you observe or are aware of to your professor.
  8. Assume ownership and avoid placing blame on others for your failures.

Positive Habits for Cultivating Your Professionalism

  1. Make integrity and ethical behavior your first priority.
  2. Respect others and be polite by speaking and behaving in an appropriate and business-like manner. Eliminate offensive jokes and language from your conversations.
  3. Dress appropriately for the situation, have good personal hygiene, and look well-kept.
  4. Use your time productively and work efficiently.
  5. Be accountable for your successes, failures, words, and actions.
  6. Keep your emotions in check. Don’t lose your temper, raise your voice, or use obscene or vulgar language in meetings or in other business settings.
  7. Use a professional tone and language in all electronic communications; don’t send emails in the “heat of the moment.”
  8. Build your competence and expertise by continuously improving your skills and knowledge.
  9. Strive for excellence in everything you do.



Academic Integrity and Professionalism is: Academic Integrity and Professionalism is not:
Understanding homework expectations by reading the course syllabus, adhering to homework instructions, and asking your professor for clarification. Assuming a behavior or practice is acceptable just because it has not explicitly been prohibited.
Assuming responsibility for all information discussed in class. Missing class and not receiving instructions.
Completing and submitting your own work. Sharing or receiving homework solutions whether for free or for payment.
Purchasing solutions or documents online or from other sources.
Copying or submitting another’s work with or without their knowledge.
Studying to learn and understand so you can demonstrate your level of knowledge through clearly documented processes. Cramming to get a grade, submitting subpar work, or submitting work you do not understand with no documented evidence of your thought process.
Utilizing web resources to assist in the learning process. Asking non-human sources for the answers, unless explicitly allowed by your professor.
Getting help from your professors, teaching assistants, tutoring centers, fellow students, or other approved sources. Relying on, copying, or getting hints from old homework, solution manuals, other students, or online services unless allowed by your professor.
Promptly communicate with your professors regarding extenuating circumstances necessitating a due date extension for homework, quizzes, and exams. Making false or illegitimate excuses for not meeting deadlines.

Collaboration and Study Groups

Academic Integrity and Professionalism is: Academic Integrity and Professionalism is not:
Using your group study time to learn and teach together so concepts and principles are understood by each person. Relying on your study group to teach you the concepts without contributing to the learning process of others.
Following the collaboration rules your professor outlines for your class. Working with or seeking help from others when it is explicitly prohibited by your professor.
Attempting assignments on your own before collaborating or seeking assistance. Attending office hours, tutoring centers, and/or study groups prior to attempting solutions on your own.
Trusting yourself and your own abilities. Assuming you will not get the correct answers without constant help and support.
Attending study group sessions prepared to contribute. Relying on your study group to help you hastily finish your homework.

Quizzes and Exams

Academic Integrity and Professionalism is: Academic Integrity and Professionalism is not:
Taking all your own quizzes and exams so your professor can accurately evaluate your level of understanding. Receiving or pursuing unauthorized help prior to or during an exam or quiz. Enlisting others to take your quizzes and exams.
Completing all optional and required quizzes and exams by the given due date. Skipping optional and required exams or requesting unjustified extensions to due dates.
Keeping all information regarding exams and quizzes confidential regardless of whether the exam or quiz is taken in class, online, or in a testing center. Sharing any information with classmates about a quiz or exam, including its difficulty, without permission from your professor.
Following all rules and guidelines for out-of-class exams and quizzes. Using tutors, friends, and classmates for help with out-of-class exams and quizzes.
Limiting your reference resources during exams and quizzes to those specified by your professor. Accessing unauthorized print or online resources on exams and quizzes.
Starting your quiz or exam preparation early so you are not tempted to cheat; bringing requested materials and supplies to the exam. Cramming for exams at the last minute leaving you unprepared and vulnerable to cheating; forgetting to bring pencils, calculators, scantron sheets, or other materials and supplies.
Contributing to a positive test environment by arriving early, focusing on your exam, and limiting unnecessary distractions. Viewing classmates’ papers, making inappropriate comments, or exhibiting unnecessary distracting noises or non-verbal gestures during quizzes or exams.

Written Papers and Lab Reports

Academic Integrity and Professionalism is: Academic Integrity and Professionalism is not:
Representing your own thoughts and conclusions by writing your own papers and reports. Submitting someone else’s work as your own or resubmitting papers written for other classes.
Submitting papers and reports that are well thought out, proofread, and apply appropriate writing standards. Submitting papers that are hastily written or contain grammar, structure, spelling, or other errors.
Quoting, summarizing, and paraphrasing your references correctly and accurately. Plagiarizing another person’s work, whether it is published or not.
Paraphrasing information that too closely resembles the content or structure of the original source.
Citing your sources using appropriate citation styles. Neglecting to cite or incorrectly citing your sources.
Accurately reporting the results of your experiments and labs. Misrepresenting or falsifying the data so it aligns with the expected outcomes or theories.
Collecting your own data in labs and experiments. Sharing lab data with anyone other than your lab partner(s).

Team Projects

Academic Integrity and Professionalism is: Academic Integrity and Professionalism is not:
Working with others and respecting team members for their skills, knowledge, and abilities regardless of their background, beliefs, or opinions. Marginalizing or patronizing others who may differ from you in age, race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, academic experience, or political or religious affiliation.
Engaging with your team, being flexible in scheduling and attending meetings, and contributing ideas and solutions for the benefit of the team and the project. Missing deadlines and meetings, arriving late for scheduled meetings, being rigid or unavailable, and/or withholding ideas and solutions.
Communicating clearly, concisely, and professionally in a timely manner with teammates, faculty, industry partners, and other key stakeholders (see also the Communication Section). Not responding to or addressing the purpose of the communication in a professional, clear, or timely manner.
Producing quality work supported by sound engineering principles while completing your assigned tasks on time. Producing shoddy, incomplete, or late work your team members need to redo; causing your team to miss deadlines.
Supporting and considering others' ideas even if they are different from your own. Taking over the project, forcing the team to conform to your ideas, or undermining others’ efforts.
Ensuring team members have meaningful responsibilities that help them gain new skills and sharing key and mundane tasks among the whole team. Making assignments based solely on existing strengths and not allowing team members to develop new skills. Assigning one person the mundane tasks.

Writing Computer Code

Academic Integrity and Professionalism is: Academic Integrity and Professionalism is not:
Following explicitly your professor’s directions for collaborating on writing code for assignments and projects. Seeking assistance or collaborating with others on coding assignments and projects when not allowed.
Discussing conceptual solutions to a problem or assignment with others then writing your own unique code. Working with classmates in a manner that results in identical or nearly identical code.
Submitting original code. Copying, purchasing, or submitting another’s code with or without their knowledge.
Starting your homework early enough to allow sufficient time to write, test, and complete coding assignments. Procrastinating so your code is not properly written, tested, or completed.
Following your professor’s directions for citing borrowed or modified code; using open source websites only when explicitly allowed. Plagiarizing code or not documenting the source or the author.
Keeping your coding assignments saved on a secure, password-protected computer or private repository that only you can access. Storing your code in an unsecure location; sharing code with other students to submit as their own or to reference while writing their code.
Using professor-approved resources like GitHub, Stack Overflow, and W3Schools to learn and understand so you can write your own code. Using resources or websites that are not professor approved; copying resources rather than writing your own code.


Academic Integrity and Professionalism is: Academic Integrity and Professionalism is not:
Writing appropriate, proofread emails and other communications to faculty, staff, and other professionals using proper grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. Treating an email as an informal communication (text or instant message); being casual, lazy, vague, or wordy in your writing; and neglecting to proofread before sending.
Including your name and other identifying information (such as your A#) and being respectful, courteous, honest, and concise. Using foul, profane, or offensive language; sending an email in the “heat of the moment.” Using slang, texting-style abbreviations/wording, or emojis.
Speaking and writing respectfully and addressing the individual, using their title and name, regardless of gender, (such as Dr., Professor, Ms., Mr., Dean, President, etc.) until invited to do otherwise. Calling professors, staff, other professionals, or employers by their first name without an invitation or using an inappropriate salutation.
Speaking clearly, confidently, and with enough volume; avoiding using filler words (“like”, “so”, “you know”); using wording appropriate to the audience. Mumbling, speaking at an inappropriate volume, talking too fast, or not tailoring your message to your audience.
Conducting or participating in virtual or telephone meetings/classes in a setting where you can concentrate and contribute. Participating in virtual or telephone meetings/classes while driving or in a distracting or inappropriate environment.
Turning off your camera (unless invited to do otherwise), which can communicate a level of disinterest.
Communicating, debating, or discussing ideas with classmates in a professional and respectful manner. Talking down to classmates, failing to respect others’ points of view, or emotionally over-reacting.
Ensuring your voicemail greeting is set up accurately and is professional, clear, and appropriate for a broad audience. Speaking too rapidly or using inappropriate language for professional situations; voice mailbox not set up or full.


Academic Integrity and Professionalism is: Academic Integrity and Professionalism is not:
Reporting the results of your research accurately and citing the work of others that influenced your analysis. Falsifying, fabricating, ignoring, omitting, or plagiarizing data to fit your desired outcome or ignoring mistakes to save time and effort.
Disclosing conflicts of interest when reporting results. Yielding to pressure or accepting favors to bias results and conclusions.
Providing results to or accepting funds from prohibited entities
Ensuring you and all research team members complete the required training(s) prior to beginning research. Compromising your research by intentionally or ignorantly disregarding training protocols.
Creating and documenting your experiments so you can troubleshoot, verify, and reproduce the research. Making claims that have little to no documented scientific proof or cannot be reproduced or validated.
Respecting the work of other researchers by not touching, moving, or altering any lab equipment that you don’t have explicit permission to use. Intentionally or unintentionally tampering with other’s research, experiments, or equipment.
Maintaining a clean and safe lab environment by organizing equipment, cleaning up after yourself, and labeling all samples and supplies. Jeopardizing the health and safety of others by ignoring lab protocols, haphazardly returning samples or supplies, or failing to clean up after yourself.
Analyzing data using proper scientific and statistical methods in order to draw accurate assumptions and conclusions. Misrepresenting or selectively including/excluding data to support your assumptions or expected conclusions; failing to fully understand the data.
Disclosing uncertainties and limitations of your findings so that the context for their validity is communicated. Hyping up or overstating the significance of the findings.
Documenting your procedures, methods and computations, and providing the data so that others could reproduce or check your results. Where appropriate archive your data in a data repository consistent with Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR) principles. Being unwilling to provide the data needed to support the findings being reported so that they can be validated and trust in the findings established.

*This list is not comprehensive. Other practices, activities, and behaviors not listed may also be considered academic integrity violations. When in doubt, ask for clarification.