Sociology Department Statement on Academic Integrity

The UCSC Sociology Department values original critical thinking and authentic writing, independent and collaborative learning, and the multiple ways that students’ diverse backgrounds and experiences shape their own sociological imagination. Sociology instructors strive to create learning environments that encourage academic honesty and integrity and to support students to bring out their best self and work. Sociology courses use different kinds of assignments and assessments, and it is important that students understand what academic integrity means in this context so that they can embrace UCSC Sociology Department’s definitions and standards. 


What does academic integrity mean?[1]

Academic integrity refers to students’ commitment to and demonstration of honesty and ethical behaviors in their academic pursuits, as well as respect for others’ scholarly work at UCSC and beyond. The International Center for Academic Integrity defines academic integrity as, “a commitment to five fundamental values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility.”[2] For students, academic integrity generally includes: following instructions about doing your own work on assignments, quizzes, and tests when instructed to do so; not turning in someone else’s work as your own; and using citations to credit others for their ideas and writings.

Academic integrity is context-specific, meaning that the expectations for maintaining integrity might be different across assignments or instructors. Therefore, you are responsible for paying close attention to what your instructor says you can and cannot do and if you are unsure, clarifying course assignment specifications with your instructor. In return, you have the right to ask that your instructor explains what constitutes academic integrity on an assignment or in class. Instructors in the department are committed to equitably enforcing academic integrity policies and taking measures to mitigate against implicit bias in how they evaluate student work.

The Sociology Department values the different perspectives of students from various backgrounds and recognizes that students’ understandings of academic integrity may differ across cultures. This statement lays out the UCSC Sociology Department’s definitions of academic integrity, to which you are expected to adhere in your courses.


What does cheating mean?[3]

Cheating involves the possession or use of information, materials, notes, or study aids that are not authorized by the instructor in a test, quiz or assignment. It also involves communicating with another person during a test, quiz, or assignment both during and outside of class, if that communication is not allowed. Some examples of cheating are:

  • Copying from another's test, quiz, or out-of-class assignment when collaboration is not approved by the instructor.
  • Turning in someone else’s work as your own.
  • Turning in the same paper for two different courses without instructor permission.[4]
  • Using AI like Chat GPT or similar products to complete assignments that are meant to be written by you.  
  • Signing in someone else for attendance when they are not present.


What does plagiarism mean?

Plagiarism is a specific form of cheating. The UCSC library defines plagiarism as “using the words or ideas of someone else as though they were your own.” In other words, students should use citations to their sources in their work to:

  • Give credit to authors whose works you have used
  • Create a trail so others can find the materials you used
  • Provide evidence of your research
  • Adhere to ethical and standard practices in all scholarship

To avoid plagiarizing or what actions you need to take to give credit to authors whose works you’ve used, see the UCSC library resource guide on plagiarism or ask your instructor.

Note: The Sociology Department uses the American Sociological Association’s style guide for formatting citations. This includes in-text citations as well as the formatting of your reference list. To avoid plagiarizing, you should use citations when crediting someone else’s writings or ideas. You can paraphrase others’ ideas in your own words or use direct quotes, both with an appropriate cite in the text and a full citation in the reference list.


Are the videos of my professor or TA lecturing OK to share?

The videos, slides, and lectures that your instructors create and share as part of the course are their property. You should not record or share videos, slides, or lectures without permission from the instructor. Similarly, taking audio or video recordings of your instructor (in person or on a screen), or fellow students, without their knowledge and permission is considered unethical and a violation of our department’s academic integrity standards.


What should I do if I’m unsure if my work maintains academic honesty?

If you are unsure if you have correctly used citations, or if you are unsure about the expectations for tests, quizzes or other assignments, you are responsible for checking in with your professor or TA before submitting. You can let your instructor know that you are unsure about the expectations and they can help you to make sure you’ve adhered to the Sociology Department’s policy on academic integrity.

All members of the community are expected to report observed instances of cheating, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty in order to ensure that the integrity of scholarship is valued and preserved at UCSC.


What will happen if a sociology student is determined to have been academically dishonest?

The university has a well-defined process for what happens when students are found or suspected to have been academically dishonest by their instructors. This process is described here.   


For more information about UCSC academic integrity, please see the following links:


[1] This Q&A format and some of the responses are adapted from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill writing center:

[2] The statement can be found here:

[3] This information was adapted from the University of Denver:

[4] You may want to continue to write about a particular topic across different courses. This may be allowable by your professor, but you should always seek permission before using similar writings for different courses.