Work for Grade
INSTITUTE WORK FOR GRADE POLICY
Development of the spirit as well as the skills of academic inquiry is central to the mission of VMI’s Academic Program. As a community of scholars, posing questions and seeking answers, we invariably consult and build upon the ideas, discoveries, and products of others who have wrestled with related issues and problems before us. We are obligated ethically and in many instances legally to acknowledge the sources of all borrowed material that we use in our own work. This is the case whether we find that material in conventional resources, such as the library or cyberspace, or discover it in other places like conversations with our peers.
Academic integrity requires the full and proper documentation of any material that is not original with us. It is therefore a matter of honor. To misrepresent someone else’s words, ideas, images, data, or other intellectual property as one’s own is stealing, lying, and cheating all at once.
Because the offense of improper or incomplete documentation is so serious, and the consequences so potentially grave, the following policies regarding work for grade have been adopted as a guide to cadets and faculty in upholding the Honor Code under which all VMI cadets live:
1) Cadets' responsibilities
"Work for grade" is defined as any work presented to an instructor for a formal grade or undertaken in satisfaction of a requirement for successful completion of a course or degree requirement. All work submitted for grade is considered the cadet's own work. "Cadet's own work" means that he or she has composed the work from his or her general accumulation of knowledge and skill except as clearly and fully documented and that it has been composed especially for the current assignment. No work previously submitted in any course at VMI or elsewhere will be resubmitted or reformatted for submission in a current course without the specific approval of the instructor.
In all work for grade, failure to distinguish between the cadet’s own work and ideas and the work and ideas of others is known as plagiarism. Proper documentation clearly and fully identifies the sources of all borrowed ideas, quotations, or other assistance. The cadet is referred to the VMI-authorized handbook for rules concerning quotations, paraphrases, and documentation.
In all written work for grade, the cadet must include the words "HELP RECEIVED" conspicuously on the document, and he or she must then do one of two things: (1) state “none,” meaning that no help was received except as documented in the work; or (2) explain in detail the nature of the help received. In oral work for grade, the cadet must make the same declaration before beginning the presentation. Admission of help received may result in a lower grade but will not result in prosecution for an honor violation.
Cadets are prohibited from discussing the contents of a quiz/exam until it is returned to them or final course grades are posted. This enjoinder does not imply that any inadvertent expression or behavior that might indicate one’s feeling about the test should be considered a breach of honor. The real issue is whether cadets received information, not available to everyone else in the class, which would give them an unfair advantage. If a cadet inadvertently gives or receives information, the incident must be reported to the professor and the Honor Court.
Each cadet bears the responsibility for familiarizing himself or herself thoroughly with the policies stated in this section, with any supplementary statement regarding work for grade expressed by the academic department in which he or she is taking a course, and with any special conditions provided in writing by the professor for a given assignment. If there is any doubt or uncertainty about the correct interpretation of a policy, the cadet should consult the instructor of the course. There should be no confusion, however, on the basic principle that it is never acceptable to submit someone else’s work, written or otherwise, formally graded or not, as one’s own.
The violation by a cadet of any of these policies will, if he or she is found guilty by the Honor Court, result in his or her being dismissed from VMI. Neither ignorance nor professed confusion about the correct interpretation of these policies is an excuse.
History Departmental Statement Concerning VMI's Policies Regarding Work for Grade
The Department of History’s policies regarding work for grade apply to three types of written work.
1. In the case of written quizzes, tests, or examinations, cadets are to do their own work without help from any other source.
2. In the case of written book reviews or reading reports, cadets are supposed to have read every page indicated and must write the report without assistance.
3. In the case of research papers, such as those required in HI 460 or other research projects in other courses, the research and writing must be done by the cadet alone under conditions specified by the instructor.
When employing a word processor in the preparation of written work for grade, a cadet is allowed free and unrestrained use of computing aids, including translators, spelling, style and grammar checkers, but must acknowledge the use of these aids in the help received statement submitted with the written work.
When undertaking work for grade for history courses, Cadets may seek tutoring assistance from recognized Institute sources such as the Writing Center, Academic Center and tutors authorized by the Institute. This assistance may include critical comments. Such comments are defined in the Institute’s Work for Grade Policy as “general advice on such matters as organization, thesis development, support for assertions, and patterns of errors. It does not include proofreading or editing.” The cadet must acknowledge the use of this assistance in the help received statement submitted with the written work.
If specifically directed by the instructor of a history course, cadets may avail themselves of peer collaboration on written work. Similar to tutoring assistance, peer collaboration may involve the provision of critical comments. Such comments are defined in the Institute’s Work for Grade Policy as “general advice on such matters as organization, thesis development, support for assertions, and patterns of errors. It does not include proofreading or editing.” The cadet must acknowledge the use of peer collaboration in the help received statement submitted with the written work.
Unlike critical comments, proofreading and editing are expressly forbidden by the Institute’s Work for Grade Policy, to wit: “Proofreading means correcting errors (e.g., in spelling, grammar, punctuation). It is the last step taken by the writer in the editing process. In addition to the corrections made in proofreading, editing includes making such changes as the addition, deletion, or reordering of paragraphs, sentences, phrases, or words. A cadet may not have his or her work proofread or edited by someone other than the instructor.” Instructors in the Department of History who wish to employ proofreading and editing as pedagogical tools may be granted exceptions to this rule only if they have received written permission from the department head for a particular assignment.
In all cases, individual course assignments that deviate from the departmental work for grade policies must be approved by the department head in advance and must be explained to cadets in writing.
Cadets should consult the History Department web site, "Guidelines for Referencing Papers" for a fuller discussion of how to conduct written work in History.
Any non-written work for grade, such as oral reports, must be undertaken under specific conditions established by the instructor and will conform to the same spirit of the rules as pertain to written work.
If you have any doubts as to the application of these rules to any
of your work for grade in History courses, consult your instructor.
Do not leave anything to chance.