Students listening to a SOPH lecture by a professor. Adopted by the Faculty Assembly August 11, 2000. Updated April 11, 2016.



Honor has been defined as a keen sense of ethical conduct and a showing of usually merited respect. Preservation of the integrity of the educational enterprise and of every earned degree, whether masters or doctoral, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Public Health is the underlying premise of this School's Honor Code. The UAB School of Public Health Honor Code, jointly developed and adopted by students and faculty, assumes all students to be honorable and honest and assumes all members of the academic community maintain the highest ethical and professional standards. In an educational institution in which honesty is assumed, it is imperative that everyone conduct himself or herself in a professional manner with other students, faculty, and administration. Further, every student, faculty and staff member is expected to be familiar with, abide by and uphold the values of the School of Public Health. These values include open and honest communication, respect for every individual, and an appreciation of diversity, integrity, teamwork, excellence, and making a positive contribution in the community. Appropriate academic, professional, and personal conduct of each member of the student body is essential for the School of Public Health to maintain an environment conducive to its educational mission.

Students, faculty and administration have an obligation to take action whenever there is a suspected breach of the School of Public Health Honor Code. Violations of academic integrity covered by Honor Code include, but are not limited to, cheating, plagiarism, knowingly furnishing false information to any agent of the University for inclusion in the academic records, noncompliance with University research ethics, including human subjects review, and professional misconduct. A student determined to have violated the Honor Code shall be subject to disciplinary action.

Every student matriculated in the UAB School of Public Health will be provided a copy of the Honor Code at orientation or registration. Students, faculty, and administration are obligated to familiarize themselves with the Honor Code. Copies are also available online for the benefit of those students who take classes in the School of Public Health but are not enrolled in public health degree programs.

Article One: Misconduct

Misconduct may include behavior that is academic or non-academic in nature, but may also be a combination of the two. Allegations of academic misconduct, unless informally resolved, shall be referred to the Honor Court. Allegations of non-academic misconduct may be referred to the Honor Court but may also involve behavior that is subject to disposition outside the School of Public Health, including civil and criminal processes.

Academic misconduct may include, but is not limited to, the following types of dishonest or otherwise inappropriate behavior:

1. Cheating

Cheating is defined generally as a dishonest act in which the cheater tries to maintain that he or she has learned something when, in truth, learning has not taken place. Cheating includes but is not limited to the unauthorized use of notes, books or other sources of information during an academic exercise; copying the work of another on an examination or allowing someone to copy the work of another student obtaining unauthorized assistance during a formal academic exercise (e.g. take home examination, homework assignment or written essay); misrepresenting the work of others as one's own effort; misrepresenting work substantially done for one class as work done for another class; and, allowing oneself to be represented by another student as in the case of an online assignment or examination.

2. Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the misrepresentation of the work of others as one's own or the representation of one's own work as original, whether found in print or electronic media. Plagiarism includes both the direct use and paraphrasing of the words, thoughts or concepts of another or one's prior work without having given proper attribution to the source of the information. Accepted standards of attribution expected of all students in this School are as follows:

A direct quotation must always be identified by quotation marks, indentation, and single spaces or use of reduced type/font size of the quoted material. A footnote or citation must be used to show the exact source of verbal and quantitative material. A quoted passage may range from a single word or phrase to an entire work. A paraphrase (the restatement of a text or portion of text for the purpose of simplifying, shortening or reinterpreting information) also requires an exact citation to or the acknowledgment of the original author.

3. Misconduct in Research

The School of Public Health adheres to the policy described in the Graduate School Handbook, UAB Policies Section, UAB Policy Concerning Maintenance of High Ethical Standards in Research and Other Scholarly Activities. Students and faculty should refer to this document for clarification of expectations regarding professional conduct in research endeavors.

4. Breach of Confidentiality

A breach of confidentiality is to disclose information, data, research, etc., concerning departmental and/or academic or administrative affairs of the School of Public Health that is deemed confidential and was known to be so. Breach of confidentiality shall include the unauthorized disclosure of confidential information that is presented at a hearing before the Honor Court.

5. Non-Academic Misconduct

Non-academic misconduct may include any act that is alleged to be a violation of School or University policy or a violation of the law. To the extent possible, the Academic Dean shall determine which allegations of non-academic misconduct are capable of resolution before the Honor Court. A student alleged to have committed non-academic misconduct should be aware that the resolution of such a charge may not be possible within the School of Public Health or within the University, but may be subject to civil and/or criminal adjudication. The commencement of civil or criminal action shall not, however, deprive the School of the right to proceed with action before the Honor Court.

Article Two: Responsibilities of Students, Faculty and Staff

Students, faculty and staff are obligated to comply with the Honor Code at all times. The Honor Code is applicable to any student enrolled in a School of Public Health course and matriculated students from the moment they arrive at the School of Public Health until the moment the degree is conferred. Students must not only abide by the Honor Code themselves, but are expected to report any suspected violations when they occur, as described in Article Four. Faculty are responsible for conducting classes and examinations, communicating their expectations regarding course requirements, providing guidance as to whether work is to be completed independently or in groups, advising students what sources, if any, may be used in completing course work, and for reporting suspected violations of the Honor Code. Staff are responsible for reporting suspected violations of the Honor Code to the faculty member responsible for the course in which the suspected violation occurred or to the Academic Dean.

Article Three: The Honor Court

The Honor Court shall consist of seven members; five students, elected to Public Health Student Association (PHSA) senator positions representing each of the five departments in the School of Public Health and two faculty members. Student members of the Honor Court shall be individuals in good academic standing. The PHSA President shall appoint two alternates to serve in the event that a standing member has a conflict of schedule or conflict of interest. The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs (Academic Dean) shall appoint two members and one alternate from among the faculty. Terms of students shall be for the duration of their PHSA term of office, or one year. Faculty members will serve two-year, staggered terms.

The Honor Court shall elect a chairperson from among the seven regular members at the beginning of the academic year. The Chair may be either a student or faculty member. The duties of the Chair include convening the Honor Court, presiding over hearings and communicating with the administration of the School of Public Health on behalf of the Honor Court. The Honor Court shall also appoint for one year an Investigative Team, comprised of two students appointed by the Honor Court and one faculty member appointed by the Academic Dean (See Article Four.) No member of the Investigative Team shall simultaneously be a member of the Honor Court.

The Academic Dean shall convene all members of the Honor Court at the beginning of the academic year for an introductory meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to review the roles and responsibilities of the Honor Court and its members, to elect a chairperson and to appoint an investigative team for the year. In all matters, the members of the Honor Court and the Investigative Team are to treat the information put forward to them in the strictest of confidence. Breaches of confidentiality are themselves violations of the Student Honor Code and will be treated as such.

The Honor Court shall have the discretion to amend its procedures, as necessary, by a two-thirds vote of the members, provided that proposed procedural modifications do not conflict with School of Public Health or University policy and are not prohibited by law.

Article Four: Preliminary Procedures for Handling Suspected Violations

Students are expected to report an alleged violation of the Honor Code either to the faculty member in charge of a course in which the suspected violation occurred or directly to the Academic Dean within seven days of the discovery of the alleged incident. Faculty who witness an incident or have allegations of an Honor Code violation reported to them must report such allegations to the academic Dean within seven days of learning of the incident. Individual faculty may attempt to informally resolve an incident that occurs in a course he/she teaches, however, every alleged violation of the Honor Code must be reported in writing to the Academic Dean. No further action will be taken if an informal resolution is reached by the student(s) and the faculty member. The Academic Dean shall keep a record of all alleged violations of the Honor Code and a summary of the disposition of the charge.

While an informal resolution is preferred when at all possible, if an informal resolution is not reached between the faculty member and the alleged violator, the Academic Dean may also attempt to informally resolve the impasse between the student and the faculty member. In the event this attempt is unsuccessful, the Academic Dean shall refer the allegations(s) to the Honor Court for investigation. The investigation shall be conducted by the three-person investigative team appointed for this purpose (See Article Three.) The Investigative Team shall review materials pertinent to the allegation, e.g. a statement from the accuser, any supporting evidence, and shall gather testimony from witnesses. The team, once convened, has two weeks to conduct its investigation. In the event that more time is needed, the team shall petition the Chair of the Honor Court for an extension. The team should forward any requests for information not clearly known to be relevant to the investigation to the Academic Dean who will determine whether such information is in fact germane to the investigation. Following the investigation, the Investigative Team shall transmit to the Chair of the Honor Court a concise written report of the team's findings regarding the allegation(s).

The written findings of the investigative team shall include a statement of the allegation(s) against the accused student, a description of the evidence and supporting documents (if available), and the names of witnesses interviewed and a summary of their respective testimony. The investigative team shall conduct its investigation impartially, in confidence, and shall be available to assist the Honor Court throughout any subsequent hearing. The written report of the Investigative Team shall be handdelivered to the Chair of the Honor Court or his/her designee, in confidence, upon completion of the report.

Upon receipt of the investigative report of a violation of the Honor Code, the Honor Court shall convene to formalize a statement of the charge or to issue a statement dismissing the allegation(s) on the ground that insufficient substantiating evidence exists. The Honor Court shall provide notice of the specific charge or of the dismissal of the alleged violation to the accused student by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by hand delivery, and to the Academic Dean. The statement of the charge shall include a brief summary of the alleged violation and the evidence presented in support of the charge, in enough detail as to allow the accused the opportunity to rebut the charge, and shall provide notification to the accused student of his/her right to a hearing. The accused student must respond to the charge within five days, unless excused by the Honor Court. In his/her written response to the Honor Court, the accused student must admit or deny the charge and must formally request or waive his/her right to a hearing before the Honor Court.

Once notice of the specific charge has been provided to the accused student and to the Academic Dean, the Honor Court shall decide on a time for the hearing and any preliminary deadline(s) for the submission of supporting documents and the names of proposed witnesses. Granting a request from the accused or from the School to reschedule the hearing is within the discretion of the Honor Court, but shall not be unreasonably denied. The Honor Court shall provide written notice to the accused student of the time and place for the submission of documentary evidence and the names of witnesses to be called in his/her defense with a statement describing the testimony of each witness. The Honor Court shall review documentary evidence in advance of the hearing.

Article Five: The Hearing

Although the specific procedure for the conduct of the hearing may vary somewhat, the process shall generally include the following: (1) call to order by the Chair; (2) introduction of those present; (3) statement of the Charge and possible penalties if the charge is proven; (4) statement of the evidence and testimony in support of the charge, and questioning of witnesses; (5) statement of evidence and testimony in opposition to the charge (rebuttal), and questioning of witnesses; (6) closing statement. All questioning of witnesses shall be by the Honor Court unless the Honor Court shall decide otherwise.

A hearing before the Honor Court shall not be bound by formal rules of evidence or judicial rules of procedure. The Honor Court may hear any testimony or receive any supporting evidence that it deems to be pertinent to the charge. Both the accused and a representative of the School may be present throughout the hearing. The accused student shall be afforded a reasonable opportunity to be heard, to question witnesses indirectly through the Honor Court, to rebut adverse evidence, and to make a brief closing statement. Members of the Honor Court may ask any questions at any time during the hearing and may elect to disallow or to curtail testimony that the Honor Court determines to be unnecessarily redundant or not probative of the issue(s) being heard. Throughout the hearing, all persons present shall conduct themselves in an orderly manner.

The accused may be accompanied at the hearing by an advisor of his/her choosing, however, the advisor may not participate in the hearing. The Honor Court shall be responsible for the conduct of the hearing at all times and shall keep a record of the proceedings in a format it chooses. Hearings before the Honor Court are confidential proceedings and only those persons determined by the Honor Court to have a need to be present shall be included. Except for the accused (and an advisor if invited by the accused) and the representative of the School, all other witnesses shall be excluded from the hearing room, except when testifying. No more than one witness shall be called to testify at a time. The School or the Honor Court may elect to invite UAB Security to be present at an Honor Court hearing.

As soon as practicable following the conclusion of the hearing, the Honor Court shall meet in private session to consider all of the evidence presented, and shall decide on one of two outcomes. The decision of the Honor Court shall be that the charge is either (1) proven by a preponderance of the evidence or (2) not proven by a preponderance of the evidence. A vote of five of the seven members shall be required for the charge against the accused to be proven. Following the vote, the Honor Court shall record the vote and shall provide a brief narrative statement explaining the rationale for their finding(s). The written decision and rationale of the Honor Court shall be transmitted to the Academic Dean, by internal communication, upon the conclusion of the Honor Court's deliberations. The Honor Court shall notify the accused of the outcome by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by hand delivery. A decision of the Honor Court in favor of the accused student shall conclude the case.

Article Six: Penalties for Violation of the Honor Code

Violations of the UAB School of Public Health Academic Honor Code are punishable by a range of penalties from receiving a failing grade on an assignment, to an F in the course, to dismissal from the program. Generally, a first violation of the Honor Code shall result in the assignment of a failing grade in the assignment or in the course in which the violation occurred, at the discretion of the instructor. A notation on the student's permanent academic record may also be made to indicate that a reduced or failing grade was assigned because of an Honor Code violation (e.g., "F, Honor Code Violation, June 15, 2001"), on the judgment of the Honor Court. Any course grade of F for academic misconduct supersedes any other grade or notation for that class. Effective Spring 2009, the course repeat policy will not apply to course grades resulting from instances of academic misconduct. In these cases, the grades of F received will be computed in the UAB grade point average. Withdrawal from a course while a possible violation of the Honor Code is under review will not preclude the assignment of a course grade that appropriately reflects the student's performance prior to withdrawal if the violation is substantiated. No student may graduate from the UAB School of Public Health until pending allegations of an Honor Code violation have been resolved. A second violation of the Honor Code shall result in expulsion from the School of Public Health. No student expelled from the School of Public Health because of an Honor Code violation shall be eligible for readmission.

Article Seven: Appeal

Within ten days of receipt of a decision by the Honor Court that the charge(s) have been proven, the student may submit a written appeal to the Dean of the School of Public Health (Dean). If no appeal is made within ten days, the Academic Dean shall notify the student of the penalty assessed against him/her and shall impose the penalty accordingly. The written notice of appeal must include a brief statement of the reason for the appeal and may be accompanied by any new evidence that the appellant wishes to call to the attention of the Dean. The Dean shall review the appeal statement, any new evidence presented by the appellant, and any evidence presented to the Honor Court that is deemed by the Dean to be relevant to his consideration of the appeal. The appellant is reminded that an appeal to the Dean is not intended to provide a forum in which to reiterate the same facts or arguments that have already been considered by the Honor Court, but is an opportunity to present either a challenge to the procedures followed by the Honor Court or to offer newly discovered evidence that could effect the outcome.

As soon as practicable and within 30 days after receiving the notice of appeal and any supporting documentation, the Dean shall consider the appeal. Once the Dean has completed his review, he shall issue a written decision, which shall: (1) affirm the decision of the Honor Court; (2) affirm the decision but reduce the penalty in consideration of mitigating facts; (3) vacate the decision of the Honor Court on the ground that procedural error may have prejudiced the outcome, and resubmit the charge for rehearing, or (4) vacate the decision and resubmit the charge to the Honor Court for reconsideration on the ground that newly discovered evidence might alter the outcome. If the Dean elects to vacate the decision of the Honor Court, he shall provide a concise written statement explaining the bases for such action. If the Dean affirms the decision of the Honor Court or affirms the decision with a reduced penalty, the decision becomes final and the appropriate penalty shall be imposed. The Dean's decision shall be transmitted to the Academic Dean and the Honor Court by internal communication, and notice to the appellant shall be provided by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by hand delivery. The Honor Court's decision based on a rehearing or reconsideration following appeal is final.

Article Eight: Documentation

Following the resolution of an Honor Code violation and any appeal process, all records of disciplinary action taken pursuant to this Honor Code shall be maintained in the Office of the Academic Dean for a period of five years or until the student leaves the University, whichever is longer. These files are considered confidential and are not publicly accessible.

If you have any questions regarding the UAB School of Public Health Student Honor Code please contact the Office of Academic Affairs at (205) 934-4993 or come by Room 120 in the Ryals School of Public Health Building

© 2000 The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health — updated April 11, 2016.