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Academic Integrity

Integrity is the foundation of the academic experience at Harvard College.  Students at Harvard learn why as well as how to acknowledge when their work is indebted to others’, and about the value of producing their own, original scholarship.  As explained in the Handbook for Students, the College “recognizes that the open exchange of ideas plays a vital role in the academic endeavor.”  Students are encouraged to talk with their peers and faculty members about their work, but they—and all scholars—must “acknowledge clearly when they have relied upon or incorporated the work of others.”

In Spring 2014, the FAS faculty voted to adopt an Honor Code for Harvard College. Implemented in 2015, the Code states:

Members of the Harvard College community commit themselves to producing academic work of integrity – that is, work that adheres to the scholarly and intellectual standards of accurate attribution of sources, appropriate collection and use of data, and transparent acknowledgement of the contribution of others to their ideas, discoveries, interpretations, and conclusions. Cheating on exams or problem sets, plagiarizing or misrepresenting the ideas or language of someone else as one’s own, falsifying data, or any other instance of academic dishonesty violates the standards of our community, as well as the standards of the wider world of learning and affairs.

In their first year at the College, students will enroll in an introductory writing course, which introduces them to the ethos of scholarship and the conventions of citation. This introduction will be deepened and expanded on in the courses and tutorials that students will subsequently take in their concentrations and the General Education program.  Students will be asked to affirm their awareness of the Honor Code at various points during their academic career at Harvard:  writing about it upon matriculation as freshmen, then affirming their awareness at registration each subsequent year, and throughout the year on particular assignments. 

Students (undergraduate and graduate), faculty, and staff work together on the Harvard College Honor Council, to review possible violations of the Honor Code and academic integrity policies.  The Honor Council’s work is grounded in the principles of community governance, and education about academic integrity.