Skip to main content

Academic Integrity

At Medill, we strive as a community to champion professional and academic integrity. With the proliferation of information outlets, work based on integrity will be even more important. That is why we are committed to learning about and living by the standards in this code.

Medill Integrity Code

Students listening to lecture in classroom

As members of the Medill community, all of our academic, professional, media, journalism and marketing communications work must meet the standards in this code:

"To fulfill my community responsibilities, I commit to honesty and fairness and to not plagiarize, cheat, fabricate, deceive, submit the same work more than once or present someone else’s work as my own, or engage in any other behavior designed to gain an unfair advantage for myself or others.

I further agree to avoid conflicts of interest or to identify conflicts to the appropriate individual(s) if they cannot be avoided. In addition, I will encourage those who have concerns about my work to voice their concerns, and if they are valid, I will correct my mistakes as soon as possible.

While enrolled at Medill, I accept that this code applies to my academic, professional, media, journalism and marketing communications work, whether I am in school, on an internship or job, acting as a volunteer or in a professional/academic activity not associated with Medill or Northwestern.

Finally, because this is a community code, our collective credibility is harmed if anyone violates it. Therefore, I promise to promptly report violators of this code."

Appendices:

Appendix I: Background to the Medill Integrity Code

For journalism, media and marketing communications, this is an era of unprecedented transformation. Changes in each of these arenas emerge with increasing frequency and with new opportunities and challenges.

There are few factors in the digital age that are "for sure." Nevertheless, at Medill a constant is our ability as a community to champion professional and academic integrity. With the proliferation of information outlets, work based on integrity will be even more important. That is why we are committed to learning about and living by the standards in this code.

That is also why maintaining and deepening a commitment to it is a requirement to be a member of the community and for receiving a Medill degree. Those students who live these standards offer employers who hire them a distinct advantage. Those who violate this code hurt everyone at Medill.

Appendix II: Medill Integrity Code and outside conflicts

Because it is impossible to list every possible permutation of situations that might arise, the academic, professional, media, journalism and marketing communications standards and definitions in the Northwestern University and Medill handbooks are not all-inclusive.

Medill Integrity Code violations include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. The appropriation, purchase, receipt as gift or acquisition by any other means of another’s work while presenting that work as the student’s own. To be a student’s own work requires it to be an original expression on the part of the student.
  2. The verbatim copy or paraphrase of materials that appear in any medium, including but not limited to, a newspaper, magazine, book radio, television, the internet, or in any other published or unpublished sources (including student work) without proper attribution or citation.
  3. The use of another person’s research, photographs, artwork, video, audio, design, computer code, phrasing, conclusions or unique descriptions without proper attribution or citation.
  4. The repurpose of past assignments or stories, or the use of materials from past assignments or stories, without the permission of the instructor.
  5. The copy of a quotation obtained by another person or organization unless both the person/organization and the original speaker are clearly identified.

"Intent is not a factor in determining Medill Integrity Code violations, nor is it a defense when a violation has occurred.

Therefore, I acknowledge that it is my responsibility to check in advance with the senior director of undergraduate or graduate studies or, if they are unavailable, a dean about what constitutes appropriate actions under contemporary standards or definitions. It is not a valid excuse to say, 'I did not know the appropriate standards and definitions.' It is my duty to keep up with them or to ask if I have a question.

Some outside organizations where I may be involved could have higher standards than these, and those standards should be embraced. If, however, I am asked to violate this code by an outside organization or situation, I should explain persuasively that I am covered by the Medill Integrity Code and what that means. After that explanation, if I am still expected to violate this code, I will contact Medill and discuss how best to proceed. If I follow these steps, I will have the full support of the Medill community as I move ahead in such a situation."

Appendix III: Persons covered by the Medill Integrity Code

This code applies to everyone enrolled at Medill, from a student taking a single class to those who are full time.

Violating the code constitutes breaking Northwestern’s and Medill’s Academic Standards. This means that violations will be dealt with and enforced in accordance with the processes explained in the Medill and/or university standards and handbooks.

Penalties for code violations range from letters of warning to exclusion from Medill and/or Northwestern University. The process for adjudicating violations is available separately as part of the school’s academic standards, and it is each individual’s responsibility to know them.

Procedures for violations of the Medill Integrity Code

The following procedures should be followed whenever a Medill teacher or other individual believes that a violation of the Medill Integrity Code may have occurred.

Any situation involving a possible violation of the Medill Integrity Code shall be referred to the appropriate administrative officer (the senior director of Undergraduate Education and Teaching Excellence for undergraduate matters and the senior director of Graduate Education and Teaching Excellence for graduate matters).

A case must be referred within one month of the date of the alleged incident or within one month of the date the individual becomes aware of the alleged incident, whichever is later. No action shall be taken on any case if more than one year has elapsed since the alleged incident.

Also, a student may not change registration in a course in which an allegation of a violation of the Medill Integrity Code is pending or in which such a finding has been made, nor may a student receive a university degree if a charge of an integrity code violation is pending or if a suspension is in effect.

The administrative officer shall review the facts of the alleged incident with the referring individual.

If the administrator determines that a violation of the Medill Integrity Code may have occurred, the administrator shall notify the student in writing of the charge(s) made, including the date of the incident, activity in which the alleged violation took place, the individual alleging the violation, the nature of the alleged violation and the sanctions that may be imposed. If timely notification is important, verbal notification may be made, to be followed by written notification. In either situation, the student shall be advised of his or her right to request a meeting with the administrator to discuss the situation, at which time the student will be expected to present material or statements on his or her behalf. The student shall be given a reasonable time to prepare for the meeting.

After the meeting, the administrator shall review all matters involved in the case and inform the student in writing of the decision and penalty, if any, to be imposed. The letter shall inform the student that the decision and/or penalty may be appealed to the Academic Standards Committee of Medill. This is done by filing a written notice of appeal to the committee chair within 10 days of the date of the letter of notification. The appeal letter should state the grounds for the appeal and all other information the student thinks appropriate.

The Academic Standards Committee will review the appeal as soon as practical after it has been filed. The student will be invited to appear at the meeting to review the appeal, and the committee may, at its discretion, invite the administrator and/or the instructor to the meeting.

The Dean of Medill will select current students to serve on the committee when that committee meets to hear appeals of matters involving violations of the Medill Integrity Code. Three graduate students will be chosen when the allegations concern students enrolled in Medill graduate courses, and three undergraduates will be chosen when the allegations concern students enrolled in Medill undergraduate courses. Students who have been selected must confirm they have no conflicts of interest regarding either the alleged incident or the student. If the selected students fail to appear at dommittee meetings, decisions rendered by the dommittee still will be valid.

The decision of the Academic Standards Committee can be appealed to the Dean of Medill within seven days of the date of the letter of notification from the chair of the Academic Standards Committee. The decision of the dean can be appealed to the provost within seven days of the date of the letter of notification from the dean.

Proposed penalties take effect after the appropriate appeals period has expired or after all university appeals have been exhausted. If the student’s final appeal is not granted, the penalty imposed by the administrator may be applied retroactively and, if necessary, current registration may be canceled.

If the alleged violation occurs in a class, the teacher of record determines the grade the student shall receive in the course after the appropriate appeals period has expired or after all university appeals have been exhausted. The teacher has full discretion as to how a proven violation of the Medill Integrity Code may be factored into computing the final course grade. A single act of proven violation of the Integrity Code may be cause for a failing grade in a course.

If a student from another school is alleged to have violated the Medill Integrity Code in a Medill course, Medill determines whether the violation has occurred (and the teacher of record determines the grade the student will receive in the course). If the finding of a violation is affirmative, the administrator will refer the case, along with documentation, to the school in which the student is registered for whatever sanction that school may consider appropriate.

Also see Northwestern University Student Code of Conduct and Policies.