GEOG 430
Human Use of the Environment

Academic Integrity


There has been a troubling increase in the number of cases of academic integrity violations, which span from honest mistakes to worse cases where students know the behavior is "copying" or purchasing work but still do it anyway. Yes. There are real people who get the dreaded "XF" on their Penn State transcript. Penn State faculty and staff have become very alert and vigilant. Each year, we seek out and develop new ways to identify such cases.

All of the following are forms of academic integrity violation:

  • copying and pasting without quotations
  • failing to cite the source of your ideas
  • copying and pasting into an online "paraphrasing tool"
  • presenting someone else's material as your own
  • using someone else's material from a study help site
  • purchasing assignments or essays
  • seeking or sharing information about the questions or answers on a quiz or exam
  • other forms of cheating or dishonesty

Throughout the course, you will be regularly writing and submitting written assignments. Every element of a submission should be either (1) your original work, or (2) a properly cited idea of somebody else's. If you want to mention somebody else's idea in your work, you should follow an established set of rules for doing so. In this class, we use the APA citation style for all citations done in all assignments. More information can be found in the 'Quick Guide to Citations' in the 'Resources' menu. Be aware that the material you submit for this course will be compared with online material using tools like Turnitin.

In terms of quizzes, you must not have in your possession any preliminary information about the specific quiz questions or correct/incorrect answers to them. Yes, they are open-book quizzes, but the only things you can refer to is raw course materials and your own notes about them. Sharing answers with classmates or seeking answers on websites such as Course Hero is an intentional violation of academic integrity, is against the law, and will be carefully watched for using a variety of methods.

Penn State does not exempt you from consequences even when the violation was done without sufficient knowledge ("honest mistakes"). So, please make yourself aware of what constitutes a breach of academic integrity.

Please have a look at Penn State resources (Undergrad Advising Handbook and a web page from the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences) to see what academic integrity is and what consequences it might bring when breached.

Information to Avoid Common Mistakes

  1. Please use both (1) an in-text citation and (2) an end-of-the-document citation (a.k.a. reference list, works cited list) per one work cited. I have seen frequent cases where students have lost points because they only provided a list of works cited at the end of the assignment and were missing in-text citations.
  2. When you are borrowing somebody else's idea in a word-for-word manner ("direct quotes"), use quotation marks along with an in-text citation. Failing to do so constitutes a breach of academic integrity. Yes! This rule applies even when you are citing definitions from dictionaries!


As the heroine of Little Women notes, Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents.

As the heroine of Little Women notes, "Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents" (Alcott, 1868, pg. #).

Citation (end-of-the-document) information that frequently gets left out

In this course, we seek to provide a learning experience to practice proper citing of other people's works. Some websites, for example, deliberately omit some  essential citation information. It is up to you to make sure that you provide complete citation information in your submissions of weekly questions and reactions, current event discussions, and the final essay.

Typically, the citation on a website lacks the following information about the cited material you need to fill in for your assignments:

For Articles:

  1. Full journal name - it is NOT the same as the name of the web database service. No Science Directs or Wileys, please.
  2. Journal volume and issue number

For Books and Book Chapters

  1. Full publisher information (e.g., city of publication)
  2. A book chapter citation should include both (a) the title of the whole book, and (b) the title of the specific chapter you are borrowing ideas from

Web-based, non-print resources

  1. Add a web address when it is an exclusively web-based resource (e.g., YouTube video clip).

An example of a citation of a journal article:

In the below image, the first (wrong) one is a Google Scholar citation copy and pasted without any revision. The second (correct) one is still a Google Scholar citation, but I added missing information by doing an additional search. This example is meant to show that you MAY use Google Scholar or another citation generator, BUT more often than not, you need to ADD to or EDIT your citation generator result to have a complete citation.
Google Scholar image showing a manufactured incorrect citation and the edits needed to correct it