Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Academic Integrity

Guide to having academic integrity and avoiding plagiarism

Purposeful vs. Accidental Violations

A purposeful violation of academic integrity occurs when someone knowingly and deliberately attempts to pass off another's work as their own. There are many reasons as to why someone would knowingly and deliberately commit an academic integrity violation, including poor time management and writing anxiety. It could also be that they were trying to get by without doing the work themselves.

A purposeful violation may include obvious attempts at misrepresentation such as:

  • Taking someone's work from a shared or public computer (or their flash drive)
  • Copying someone's homework or answers--including finding answers on the internet
  • Purchasing homework, essays, or exam answers

Purposeful violations may also include less obvious (but serious) attempts such as:

  • Creating false sources or citations (e.g. required to use X number of sources but didn't do enough [or any] research)
  • Intentionally misquoting or misrepresenting the information of a source
  • Working with another student(s) when the instructions are to work alone
  • Turning in the same work in multiple courses without the prior approval of the faculty (self-plagiarism)

Whether the violation is obvious or less obvious, both categories demonstrate that a person has made a clear decision to violate academic integrity.


An accidental violation of academic integrity occurs when someone, either by what they do or what they neglect to do, violates the rules of proper citation, attribution, and/or source use.

An accidental violation may include:

It is important to note that just because a student may commit academic dishonesty unintentionally, they still will be subject to the same academic integrity policy and process as purposeful violators. After all, it is difficult to prove that a student has committed an accidental violation other than the student's word for it. 

Also, claiming that 'you didn't know' that you were committing a violation is not an acceptable defense against charges of academic dishonesty.  As a Central Penn student, you are expected to thoroughly review the College's catalog and other documentation.  Also, course syllabi direct students to where they can view the College's policy.  Your professors, the librarians, and the Learning Center staff are all resources you should consult if you have any questions about academic integrity.