Physics Department - Student Code of Conduct

Like most universities, UC Berkeley has rules governing the behavior of our student community. As a Physics student, we ask that you visit the Center for Student Conduct website and familiarize yourself with the Code of Conduct for the UC Berkeley campus. This code, which applies to all students, defines academic dishonesty, including cheating and plagiarism. You are responsible for knowing the information it contains.

Cheating is defined as fraud, deceit, or dishonesty in an academic assignment, or using or attempting to use materials, or assisting others in using materials that are prohibited or inappropriate in the context of the academic assignment.

Plagiarism is defined as use of intellectual material produced by another person without acknowledging its source.

We add here some physics-specific comments.  Plagiarism is often described for textual material. The above definition does not fully cover the plagiarism issue as it pertains to the way we study physics. Mastering physics and similar sciences involves learning basic principles from books, the course lecture, the Web, asking questions, discussion with peers , etc.  However, the knowledge is of no use until it is applied to real problems. Most of the learning is done by solving problems; homework assignments are nearly 100% problem solving as are the examinations used to evaluate a student’s progress.

It is essential to the learning process that you first try solving problems by analyzing available sources (texts, notes, solution manuals, the web), then use what you have learned to write your own solution. This is a scholarly approach, and done this way is not plagiarism.  Plagiarism is the copying of another person’s solution or work verbatim and claiming it as one’s own, whether it is found on the web or in a book or in discarded homework solutions from a previous year. If there is a passage that is particularly relevant, citing it may be appropriate as long as appropriate credit is given to the original author, specifically meaning use of quotation marks and a citation.  In fact, it is good practice to include a list of all outside sources that were consulted for a particular work. If you have questions, you should consult your advisor or course instructor. great study aids. If you find a published solution to a problem, study it carefully to learn as much as possible

Plagiarism and cheating are considered serious disciplinary offenses in the academic world. The campus has procedures in place for faculty to deal with academic dishonesty, including discipline of cheaters and plagiarists. While the purpose of this form is primarily to clarify the physics-specific issues around plagiarism, it is also intended to make clear that if a case is discovered, the faculty of the Physics Department will take appropriate action.

Student Resources

Student Advocate Office – 114B Hearst Gym, (510) 642-6912 
UCB’s Center for Student Conduct – 221 Sproul Hall, (510) 643-9069