About the Handbook

You are a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology because of your demonstrated intellectual ability and because of your potential to make a significant contribution to human thought and knowledge. At MIT, you will be given unusual opportunities to do research and undertake scholarship that will advance knowledge in your fields of study. You will also face many challenges.

As the world becomes more complex, scientists and engineers, as well as humanists, social scientists, managers, architects and planners, need to be able to communicate what they know both to each other and to the public. One of MIT’s goals is to graduate articulate men and women who will be able to take their expertise into the world and communicate it effectively. During your academic life at MIT, you will be required to complete assignments based on oral communication and writing, some of which will require research in libraries and laboratories and accessing electronic resources.

MIT anticipates that you will pursue your studies with purpose and integrity. The cornerstone of scholarship in all academic disciplines is honesty. MIT expects that you will approach everything you do here honestly – whether solving a math problem, writing a research or critical paper, or writing an exam.

Some of you may be coming from educational systems where rules of academic integrity were not clearly defined or enforced. Others may be studying in the United States for the first time and may have different and culturally-based understandings of academic integrity. To ensure that all MIT students understand the high academic standards of the Institute, we have prepared this handbook to help guide you when you approach the writing, research, coding and test-taking tasks your classes will demand of you.

This handbook outlines important information you will need to know about correctly acknowledging your sources when you write a report, research paper, critical essay, or position paper. It provides guidelines for collaboration on assignments and writing code.  The handbook also provides information about what constitutes violations of academic integrity and the consequences of committing such violations. Please familiarize yourself with this material before you begin work in your classes, and use it as a resource when you have questions — at MIT and beyond. Ignorance is never an excuse for academic dishonesty.

Writer: Patricia Brennecke, Lecturer in the MIT English Language Studies Program, 1996-2012

Editor: Anna Babbi Klein, Communications Manager, Office of Undergraduate Education, 2006-2015

Copyeditor: Elizabeth Durant, Communications Officer, Office of the Vice Chancellor

Many thanks to the Academic Integrity Working Group members for their invaluable input: Christy Anthony, AC Kemp, Heather Konar, Anastasia Maheras ’11, SM ’12, Heather McCann, Stephen Pepper, Anubhav Sinha ’14, and Narendra Tallapragada ’13. Also, thanks to Professors Rob Miller and Daniel Jackson from EECS for their guidance on “Writing Code” and Stephanie Hatch, formerly MIT’s Social Media and Email Marketing Specialist, for her guidance on citing social media. And to Professor Margery Resnick from Literature for her continual support of all efforts around academic integrity at MIT.

First publication date: August 2012
Updated: July 2020