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Regulations Governing Papers Submitted for Course Credit

A paper submitted in a Seminar or an Independent Study or any other paper submitted in partial or full satisfaction of a course requirement is due no later than the last day of regularly scheduled classes for the semester.

  1. A paper or papers submitted in a Seminar must total at least ten double spaced, typed pages per credit, excluding footnotes, with the maximum length to be set by the course professor.
  2. All papers must have margins of one inch at the top and bottom and on the right-hand edge and one and one-half inches on the left-hand side.
  3. Citations shall conform to "The Bluebook".
  4. An original manuscript, whether in hard copy or electronic copy, must be submitted. Photocopies or other reproductions are not acceptable.
  5. The final grade in a Seminar will be based on attendance and on oral classroom work different in both kind and degree from that ordinarily expected in other courses, in addition to the quality of the paper or papers.
  6. A major academic purpose of a Seminar, Independent Study, or other paper written to satisfy credit requirements is to develop and test the student's research and writing skills. The following rules regarding the preparation and use of such papers should be interpreted with this purpose in mind. Each course professor may issue instructions or interpretive guidelines to supplement these rules.
    1. Plagiarism or other dishonesty or deception in a Seminar paper or in any other written work submitted for credit is not tolerated. Anyone guilty of such conduct may receive grade sanctions and/or be denied credit for the course, and may be subject to such other sanctions as might be imposed under the Honor Code.
    2. A student shall not receive excessive assistance or make excessive use of the work of someone else in preparing a paper, regardless of whether he or she gives credit to the person who renders assistance or whose work is used.
    3. Except as provided hereinafter, all research, writing and other work of the student used in the preparation of a paper shall be done by him or her during the current semester and solely for the purpose of satisfying the course requirement for which the paper is to be submitted. A student may prepare a paper with the additional purpose of offering it for publication in a law review or journal (other than to fulfill membership duties) or entering it in a writing competition. A student who desires to use work in preparing a paper that he or she did before the semester or for another purpose or to prepare a paper with a second purpose other than those mentioned above shall submit a request to the course professor stating all relevant facts and asking for an exception. The course professor may grant an exception when to do so is not inconsistent with the academic goal stated in the first sentence of paragraph 6.
    4. A course professor may take into account any violation of the rules in paragraphs (B) and (C) when grading a paper. It is assumed that the course professor will make whatever inquiry is needed to assure that a deduction is warranted. The course professor shall award a grade of F if he or she deems the violation egregious. The award of a low grade and denial of course credit is not punishment and shall not preclude disciplinary sanctions appropriate for violations of these rules.
    5. These explanatory notes are intended to provide guidance in interpreting and applying the rules on plagiarism and other improprieties; they are not meant to be conclusive.

      For the law school’s definition of “plagiarism” see Honor Code Section 2.1.F.

      What constitutes receiving "excessive assistance" or "making excessive use of the work of someone else" is a matter for the course professor to decide and communicate in a timely manner to the students. Unless the course professor gives different instructions, the ideas formulated by the Academic Rules Committee to define "excessiveness" should be followed. In pertinent part those ideas appear below.

      The words "excessive assistance" should be construed with reference to the academic purpose of the paper requirement-to develop the student's research and writing skills and to test his or her developed skills. The rules contemplate that a student may receive some counsel and suggestions from other people, e.g., another student, a typist, the course professor, so long as the paper is, in both the pedagogical and literary senses, the work of the student. For example, it would not be excessive for a student (i) to engage in general discussions about the topic while working on the paper; (ii) to have someone else read and generally criticize a draft, or (iii) to follow suggestions of a typist or proofreader for correcting errors of spelling, grammar, syntax, or citation form so long as the student understands the errors and agrees with the corrections. On the other hand, it would be excessive for a student (i) to allow someone else to make basic decisions regarding scope of the research, organization, and analysis of materials and conclusions, (ii) to use a major rewrite of the student's work done by someone else, or (iii) to give a carelessly prepared draft to a typist, counting on the typist to produce a technically correct and literate final version.

      What constitutes "making excessive use of the work of someone else" has reference to the use of books, articles, unpublished manuscripts, research notes, and other existing work done by someone else. Even if the student gives full and unambiguous credit to his or her sources, avoiding problems of plagiarism, dishonesty, and deception, it would be "excessive use" for a student to do such things as (i) basing a paper largely on one or two published or unpublished sources, slavishly using their research or organization and analyses, (ii) using many lengthy quotations from the works of others, or (iii) writing substantial parts of the paper by slavishly paraphrasing the language of other works.

      Course professors and students should view preparation of a paper as a valuable learning and testing opportunity. A course professor should not issue unduly restrictive instructions that limit the pedagogic worth of the experience. A student should not adopt a quibbling approach to the rules.