Academic Integrity

The Viterbi Code of Integrity expresses the standards we seek to uphold as Trojans and Viterbi engineers. The resources offered within this site are intended to provided students and faculty help in understanding and maintaining the highest level of academic integrity.

Our goal is to have this site be helpful in meeting daily academic challenges. All members of the Viterbi community are invited to contribute to this site by way of commentary and sharing supporting information. Suggested content can be sent to

Statement of Academic Integrity

“A Community of Honor”

We are the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, a community of academic and professional integrity. As students, faculty, and staff our fundamental purpose is the pursuit of knowledge and truth. We recognize that ethics and honesty are essential to this mission and pledge to uphold the highest standards of these principles.

As responsible men and women of engineering, our lifelong commitment is to respect others and be fair in all endeavors. Our actions will reflect and promote a community of honor.

Honor Code

Engineering enables and empowers our ambitions and is integral to our identities. In the Viterbi community, accountability is reflected in all our endeavors.

Engineering+ Integrity
Engineering+ Responsibility
Engineering+ Community

Think good. Do better. Be great.

These are the pillars we stand upon as we address the challenges of society and enrich lives.

Dean’s Note

“Excellence in all our endeavors” is part of my vision for the Viterbi School, and our shared endeavors as students and faculty include how we conduct ourselves in the classroom, in the lab, and in all academic activities. Our school is a vibrant cross-section of academic and social cultures, and we look for these experiences to merge into a common principle of high ethical standards. As students and faculty we recognize that our education and research are governed by the principles of USC and the Viterbi School of Engineering.

The Viterbi School is a “Community of Honor” – the actions of one of us represent us all. Rather than having an academic culture drowning in rules and warnings, we aspire to a higher standard of conduct, one driven by a lifelong commitment to excellence in all our endeavors.

This site is meant to be a resource for students and faculty, and its contents can provide helpful guidance. But my hope is that our actions as an academic community will be determined instead by a sense of shared values and responsibility. This is our obligation as leaders at USC.

The world has never relied more on engineers. The next few years will provide countless opportunities for our students and graduates, and along with these opportunities comes a greater responsibility to act ethically. As members of the Viterbi academic community we hold ourselves up to the highest standard of academic integrity. Let this vision guide us.

Dean Yannis C. Yortsos


Information for Students

Maintaining academic integrity first relies on understanding the expectations of the classroom, school, and discipline. The most important relationship and resource is your course instructor. The expectations and classroom practices of each course may differ; please ask your instructor if any rule is unclear.

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the most common (and sometimes misunderstood) academic integrity violation. While most schools in the United States share a common definition of plagiarism, students should be familiar with the specific conditions that constitute this violation here at USC.

According to USC’s Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, plagiarism is:

A. The submission of material authored by another person but represented as the student’s own work, whether that material is paraphrased or copied in verbatim or near-verbatim form.

B. The submission of material subjected to editorial revision by another person that results in substantive changes in content or major alteration of writing style.

C. Improper acknowledgement of sources in essays or papers.


Essentially, any ideas that are not yours or any expression of common knowledge that is not yours should be attributed to the original source. Having someone help you write a paper (peers, a writing center) is allowed as long as their contributions are not to the extent where they could reasonably be listed as a co-author. Not knowing the correct way to attribute sources is not an excuse for submitting improperly cited papers.

Examples of Plagiarism

The submission of material subjected to editorial revision by another person that results in substantive changes in content or major alteration of writing style.

Improper acknowledgement of sources in essays or papers.

Taking someone else’s ideas, words, data, or images and presenting them as your own.

Direct copying from original sources.

Direct copying from original sources, but with footnotes.

Rewording a sentence (paraphrasing).

Borrowing organization.

Failing to reference/footnote source material.

Submitting as a new study old data that has been changed simply by adding new data points.

Other Examples of Misconduct

  • Acquisition of term papers or other assignments from any source and the subsequent presentation of those materials as the student’s own work, or providing term papers or assignments that another student submits as his/her own work.
  • Distribution or use of notes or recordings based on university classes or lectures without the express permission of the instructor for purposes other than individual or group study.
  • Any use of external assistance during an examination shall be considered academically dishonest unless expressly permitted by the instructor.
  • Unauthorized collaboration on a project, homework or other assignment.
  • Using an essay, term paper or project in more than one course without permission.
  • Taking a course, portion of a course or exam for another student or allowing another individual to take a course, a portion of a course or exam for someone else.
  • Using university computer and word processing systems to gain access, alter and/or use unauthorized information.
  • Fabricating: Submitting material for lab assignments, class projects or other assignments which is wholly or partially falsified, invented or otherwise does not represent your work.
  • Dividing into separate papers a study that is more accurate as a single entity.
  • Double Dipping: Submitting a paper for publication that has already been disseminated in a significant way (published in a journal, presented at a conference, posted on the internet) without indicating so to the intended publisher.
  • Any act which gains or is intended to gain an unfair academic advantage may be considered an act of academic dishonesty.


Helpful Resources

The resources linked below can direct students to assistance with various classroom and research tasks. This is by no means a complete list, and students are asked to contribute by sending suggestions to

Information for Faculty

Academic integrity violations are an unfortunate reality of a learning environment, and faculty play a key role in maintaining standards. Below are brief sections that explain the violation reporting process and provide resources.

Why Report Violations?

Individual faculty cannot be aware of every student’s academic history. A violation that occurs in your class may be a student’s first or second or third violation. The university’s response to a second violation is different than to a first; therefore, every violation should be submitted to Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards.

Types of Violations

General principles of academic integrity include and incorporate the concept of respect for the intellectual property of others, the expectation that individual work will be submitted unless otherwise allowed by an instructor, and the obligations both to protect one’s own academic work from misuse by others as well as to avoid using another’s work as one’s own. All students are expected to understand and abide by these principles. Faculty members may include additional classroom and assignment policies, as articulated on their syllabus.

For further information on types of violations, click here.

Possible Sanctions

The most common misperception of reporting academic integrity violations is that every report must be accompanied by a failing grade for the student. While SCampus does include “F for the Course” as the recommended sanction for most violations, faculty have the option to suggest less punitive sanctions. The circumstances surrounding the violation should be considered fully.

All violations should be reported to SJACS regardless of the sanction’s severity in order to have a complete student integrity history.

Possible sanctions include:

  • F for the course
  • F (or zero points) for the assignment in question
  • Reduced points in class
  • Downward adjustment of class grade
  • Other

For further information on possible sanctions, click here.

Violation Reporting Process Overview

The Viterbi School faculty are the first at USC to use an online “hybrid” reporting system. While hard copies of reports are still required, reports are also recorded online and faculty can now track the process of individual cases.

When a violation occurs, faculty should:

  • Meet with the student or students to determine whether a violation has occurred
  • In the cases where violations have occurred (regardless of sanction), complete the report form by logging into the system below
  • Determine an appropriate sanction
  • Complete and print the form fields. The report will also be submitted electronically

Faculty will be informed by email to login to the system and can track the status of all reports.

How to Report

Login – Faculty/SJACS Online Report System which is available as part of the myViterbi toolset at:

Statement for Syllabi and Websites

Provost Memo: Statement on Academic Conduct and Support Systems for Syllabi and Websites (September 2014)


Below are links to various services (some free, some pay-based) to help you check on the originality of student work.