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Academic Integrity


The Northwestern Provost's Academic Integrity webpage provides information on relevant policies and ways to recognize and avoid violations of academic integrity.

The Northwestern brochure Academic Integrity: A Basic Guide contains a non-exhaustive list of behaviors that violate standards of academic integrity. These include:

• Cheating.
• Plagiarism.
• Fabrication.
• Obtaining an unfair advantage.
• Aiding and abetting dishonesty.
• Falsification of records and official documents.
• Unauthorized access to computerized academic or administrative records or systems.

Each is described in more detail in the brochure.

Plagiarism includes more than just copying someone’s work. Northwestern's “Principles Regarding Academic Integrity” defines plagiarism as “submitting material that in part or whole is not entirely one's own work without attributing those same portions to their correct source.” The brochure Academic Integrity: A Basic Guide contains a discussion of the proper citation of sources. Northwestern's Writing Place provides more tips for avoiding plagiarism.


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.

Detailed information regarding Medill’s integrity code is below. The code applies to all part-time and full-time undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at Medill.

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

The Importance of Academic Integrity

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.

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

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.”

Medill Integrity Code Violations

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, it is a student’s responsibility to check in advance with the appropriate Medill administrator. It is not a valid excuse to say, ‘I did not know the appropriate standards and definitions.’ It is a student’s duty to stay current with the standards or to ask if the student has a question.

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

Reporting a Suspected Violation

A student who suspects that another student has violated the Medill Integrity Code should bring their concern to the faculty member teaching the course.

A faculty member who suspects that a student has violated academic integrity standards should report this to the director of academic integrity and appeals. If the faculty member is unsure what occurred constitutes a violation, they should feel free to discuss the concern with the director.

A case must be referred by a student or a faculty member 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.

Procedures for Cases of Alleged Violations of Academic Integrity

Investigation and Notification

The director of academic integrity and appeals will strive to keep the investigative process as private as possible, involving only those with a specific need for involvement.

The director reviews the facts of the alleged incident, instructor statements and any other supporting material. The review may include but is not limited to electronic searches of plagiarism resources, websites and other databases. If the director determines there is cause for further investigation, the director notifies the student by emailed letter with the details of the allegation, 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.

A student must respond to the director’s email within seven calendar days to make an appointment with the director to discuss the alleged violation. If a student does not respond within seven calendar days, the director will determine if a violation occurred on the basis of the available information. A student will be given a reasonable amount of time to prepare for a meeting with the director.

A student may not change registration nor their grading basis 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.

During the meeting, the director will outline the allegation and detail the information supporting the allegation. The student will have the opportunity to present any relative material or statements in their own defense.

After meeting with the student, the director will review all information and determine whether a violation occurred and the sanction, if any, to be imposed. The director then will inform the student via an emailed letter of the outcome. The letter will inform the student that the violation determination and/or the sanction may be reviewed by the Academic Standards Committee of Medill, which consists of four Medill faculty and one Medill student appointed by the dean’s office. Committee members must confirm they have no conflicts of interest regarding either the alleged incident or the student. If the appointed student fails to appear at the committee meeting, decisions rendered by the committee will still be valid.


Sanctions that may be imposed by the director include but are not limited to:

Students who are found to have violated the integrity code cannot graduate with academic honors.

Also, the grade on the assignment and in the course may be impacted. The course instructor has the sole discretion to determine the effect any violation has on an affected assignment and the comprehensive grade in the course. Possible actions include:

Review Process

A student may request a review of the finding of the violation, the sanction or both by filing a written notice of review to the Academic Standards Committee chair within seven days of the date of the letter from the director. The letter should include:

Reviews by the Academic Standards Committee are limited to:

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

The chair of the committee will send the student an emailed letter on behalf of the committee notifying the student of the committee’s decision.

Following the decision by the Academic Standards Committee, a student may request a review by the associate dean of Medill within seven days of the date of the letter of notification from the chair of the Academic Standards Committee. A student may request that the finding of the violation, the sanction or both reviewed. The reviews are limited to:

Following the decision by the associate dean of Medill, a student may request a review by Office of the Provost within seven days of the date of the letter of notification from the associate dean. The reviews are limited to:

The Office of the Provost will conduct reviews only after a finding and sanction have been issued.

Suspensions are noted on the student’s unofficial transcript. Permanent exclusion is noted on the student’s official transcript. Northwestern University is obliged to report suspensions and exclusions to federal background investigators. Graduate and professional schools may request that students provide them with a release to allow reporting of academic integrity violations.

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

Cross-College Cases

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 a violation is found to have occurred, the director will refer the case, along with documentation, to the school in which the student is registered for the sanction that school may consider appropriate.

A student may request the Medill Academic Standards Committee to review the finding. A student must request the sanction be reviewed in the student’s home school.

Also see Northwestern University Student Code of Conduct and Policies.