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Success Tips & Avoiding Cheating

Academic honesty and integrity are indispensable to the educational mission of the university. Academic misconduct diminishes the work of other individuals, hurts the reputation of the university and its academic programs, and devalues a Cal State San Marcos degree or credential. These choices may impact not only your knowledge and expertise as a student but could affect your grades, cause you to retake a course, or result in a transcript notation. Students may also suffer lasting consequences, such as missing out on foundational information they need to learn and apply in higher-level classes and careers. Our collective responsibility as a community of learners and scholars is to uphold the highest standards of academic excellence by supporting and promoting academic integrity. 

It is your responsibility as a student to protect your work and respect and protect others' work by providing proper credit for their ideas. This semester has brought to light multiple third-party websites and other strategies used by students to gain an unfair academic advantage in their courses. 

Tips for Academic Success

  • Read through your course catalog. It is helpful to know and understand the rules and regulations of the University - as well as what the expectations are for you as a student.
  • Review ALL your course syllabi and make sure you understand your instructors’ course, examination & assignment expectations regarding academic integrity violations. 
  • Ask your professor about what constitutes cheating and plagiarism in their classroom. Early communication with your faculty may help to avoid a misunderstanding when you approach an assignment or exam. 
  • Get assistance early if you need it. There are a number of resources (listed on the right-hand side of this page) at CSUSM that can educate you on what plagiarism is, how to do research, how to write a paper, assist you if you have a learning disability, give you tips on time management, and assess your current studying style, etc.
  • Meet with your professor on a regular basis (utilize office hours). This will allow you to get feedback from them on your progress in the class and what you need to work on to improve and continune understanding the course content. 
  • Manage your time wisely. Good time management usually means good grades. Procrastination may lead to desperation and "messy" work. 
  • Invest in your work. Remember why you’re here - to get an education.
  • Focusing on the end result should not be the only goal.  The process of how you get there is just as important. Integrity counts!

Collaborative Work: 

Ask your faculty in advance how much collaboration is acceptable for any assignment and exam.

  • Do not post any assignment/quiz/exam questions and/or look up assignment/quiz/exam answers on third-party websites (i.e., Chegg, Course Hero, Homework Market).
    • University personnel is able to request information from these websites directly to determine the specific students involved.
  • Do not pay a third party (aka "contract cheating") to complete coursework on your behalf (as you).
    • Additionally, this potentially compromises the security of the CSUSM network by allowing unverified users to access student accounts and information.
    • Use of these cheating services often comes with many additional risks, such as identity theft, credit card and financial fraud, blackmail, and extortion. 
  • Do not engaging in video chats, texts or group messages (via FaceTime, Snapchat, GroupMe, Instagram, Zoom, etc.) before, during or after exams to collaborate and share answers.

Writing Papers:

  • If you are unsure of how to cite your work, check with your instructor for the proper technique. Using someone else’s work/ideas without proper citation will not work.
  • Making up resources for a bibliography would also be considered a violation to the Academic Honesty Policy.
  • Downloading papers off the internet – it is just as easy for an instructor to find (Google) the same paper online as it is for you.
  • Cutting and pasting information off the internet without proper citation.
  • Turning in someone else’s paper as your own.
  • Using the same paper in two or more classes is considered a violation to the Academic Honesty Policy unless you have both instructor’s permission.
  • Save/name your paper you intend to upload for course credit as an obviuos name as to not confuse it with another document that isn't your own work. 

Taking Exams: 

  • Looking around during an (in-person) exam, may appear that you are trying to copy from others.
  • Assisting someone during an exam is considered a violation to the Academic Honesty Policy.
  • If you feel someone is trying to copy off of you during an exam, ask the instructor to move.
  • "Take home" exams are to be done on your own (independently), unless otherwise instructed by the instructor.
  • Do not make marks on a graded exam and then try to claim that the instructor didn’t give you a point for that question. Instructors make copies of the originals prior to returning them.
  • Follow the instructions from your faculty when taking the exam, such as not utilizing your cell/smart phone or another device to "look up" answers and/or use of a "lockdown browser." 
  • When taking an online exam in class, submit your test prior to leaving the classroom. Otherwise your instructor may assume you consulted outside assistance.

How to Protect Yourself

  • Keep all the rough drafts of your papers, computer assignments (copy of the solutions), and lab reports in the event you are asked to defend your work. The burden of proof is on you.
  • Submit your own work. Do not let (or pay) others do it for you.
  • Do not share your login credentials with any 3rd party to complete coursework on your behalf - this compromises the security of the CSUSM network (including other students, faculty and staff) by allowing unverified users to access network information. This is also a policy violation of CSUSM's Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources Policy.  
  • Check with your instructor to see if you’re allowed to submit the same paper or project for another course (prior to the deadline) - remember, permission from both the prior faculty and current faculty are required.
  • Ask your instructor early about how much collaboration is allowed or expected in group assignments - give them examples to clarify expectations for the whole class if needed. 
  • Shield your work when taking exams.