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Indiana University Bloomington

Composition Policies


If you ask someone to write an entire essay for you, or if you copy and turn in as your own writing someone else’s essay or passages from someone else’s writing, you are guilty of plagiarism. Plagiarism is simple dishonesty, and because you contribute little or nothing of your own to a plagiarized paper, you profit little or not at all from copying it.

Appropriately, the penalties for plagiarism are severe. As a minimum penalty, your instructor will assign your plagiarized paper a grade of "F" and will report your case first to the Composition Program Coordinator, who may require a meeting with you and your instructor. If in the opinion of your instructor and the Coordinator the flagrancy of your act of plagiarism seriously compromises the value or validity of your other work in the class, you may even receive an "F" for the course. Your instructor will also report your case to the Dean of Students, who in turn may initiate further disciplinary action against you and against any other students involved in that act of plagiarism.

The moral of this story is to avoid plagiarism at all costs, for the penalties guarantee that it is simply not worth the risk.

Insufficient Documentation

Some kinds of writing, notably the documented paper, require that you quote or refer to information and opinions that you have gathered in your reading and research. The conventional procedures for writing such papers also require that you fully acknowledge the sources from which you have acquired the material. This acknowledgment is usually contained either in parenthetical references in the body of your paper or in foot- or endnotes, together with a bibliography or a list of works cited at the end. When you document a paper, you at once both acknowledge your debt to others and explicitly introduce them as authorities to support the validity of your own treatment of the topic. Insufficient documentation is, therefore, both a form of plagiarism and a weakness in your paper. Instructors will lower the grade of an insufficiently or inaccurately documented paper, and if they consider the fault serious enough, may even fail the paper.

If you have any questions about what plagiarism is or about whether you have used or acknowledged sources legitimately in your paper, be sure to consult your instructor before submitting a final draft.

Please visit the College’s new Plagiarism and Academic Misconduct website for more information.


Since the University does not mandate an official attendance policy, instructors typically devise their own. Such policies usually stipulate that students should contact their instructor in advance if they must miss a class; that students will be held responsible for any work they miss; that missing class is no excuse for not submitting an assignment; that assignments submitted late may be penalized or not accepted at all; and that students' final grades will suffer from missing an excessive number of classes. One policy endorsed by the Composition Program is to lower the student's final grade in the course by one-third of a letter grade -- from B- to a C+, for example -- for each absence the student accumulates after the third, except under very special circumstances.

Religious Holidays

The following is taken from the Indiana University Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculties policy examples and exceptions regarding absence due to religious holidays:

Faculty do not have to consider accommodations for the purpose of allowing students to travel away from Bloomington for a religious observance.

Any student who is unable to attend classes or participate in any examination, study, or work requirement on some particular day(s) because of their religious beliefs (his/her) must be given the opportunity to make up the work which was missed, provided that the makeup work does not create an unreasonable burden upon Indiana University. Upon request and timely notice, students shall be provided reasonable accommodation.

The University will not levy fees or charges of any kind when allowing for the student to make up missed work. In addition, no adverse or prejudicial effects should result to students because they have made use of these provisions.

Attendance policies allowing for a specific number of dates to be missed without impact on a studentís grade should not count within that number absences for religious observance. Making accommodations requires faculty and students to find suitable accommodation to cover the material from the course and complete all required work, including exams. It is not an appropriate accommodation to permit a student to not complete a portion of material from the course, or to miss an exam, and simply reduce that studentís grade.

Under IU policy, students are required to request accommodation for religious observance before, not after, it occurs (the deadline for such requests suggested by the policy is the end of the second week of a regular semester, though instructors can extend that deadline if they wish). Instructors should include information about accommodation and the deadline for requesting it in their syllabi. But students are not required to supply evidence of their attendance at the religious services or events in order to qualify for any accommodation granted to them.

Grade Disputes

Ideally, any conversation involving a student dissatisfied with an instructor, an instructorís grading, or the course in general occurs initially between that student and his or her instructor. Should such discussions fail to resolve the problem to the studentís satisfaction, students should then direct their concerns to the Composition Coordinator or the Director of Composition, who will serve as a supportive, authoritative voice in some cases, as an arbitrator in others, and as an intermediary in still others. Any student who contacts the Coordinator or Director without having first discussed the matter with the instructor will be encouraged to do so; should a student be unwilling to consult the instructor first, the Coordinator will inform the instructor about the problem in a timely manner and work to negotiate an equitable resolution.


In the Indiana University Academic Handbook, the Faculty Council stipulates the circumstances for the awarding of incompletes:

The grade of Incomplete used on the final grade reports indicates that the work is satisfactory as of the end of the semester but has not been completed. The grade of Incomplete may be given only when the completed portion of a studentís work in the course is of passing quality. Instructors may award the grade of Incomplete only upon a showing of such hardship to a student as would render it unjust to hold the student to the time limits previously fixed for the completion of his/her work.

The Composition Program has adopted this policy regarding incompletes:

Before agreeing to award any student an incomplete, instructors must consult first with the Director or the Composition Coordinator, who will determine, on the basis of information provided by the instructor and the student, whether to approve the awarding of an incomplete. As a rule, only those students who are prevented by some genuine hardship from completing the final paper or project can be considered legitimate candidates for incompletes.

If the student’s circumstances warrant an "I," the Director or Coordinator will obtain from the instructor a written contract in which the student agrees to complete the assignment(s) by a specified date. Should the removal of the incomplete require the student to attend a class, the Composition Coordinator will make the necessary arrangements.

Drop/Add Procedure

The continuous drop/add feature is available through OneStart Self-Service from the beginning of early registration through the first week of classes. Any class dropped during this time will not appear on the student’s transcript.

Late Drop/Add Procedure

  • Obtain late drop/add forms from the appropriate location (see forms distribution table). Complete all requested student and class information.
  • Obtain required signatures: school dean (student’s school), department chair Ė can be obtained at BH 442 for English courses, and instructor (for all adds and for drops following the end of the automatic grade of "W" period ). See Official Calendar.
  • Report to the Warren W. Shirey Registration Center, Franklin Hall, 101.
  • Report directly to a Registration Consultant who will process your transaction. Do not use the on-line registration system.

Composition Program Policies Regarding Adds

In order to be fair to students who have waitlisted sections through OneStart, absolutely no adds will be considered up through the first week of classes while the waitlist is still active.

Once the waitlist is no longer in effect, instructors may opt to allow students to add their class by signing the drop/add form, however instructors may only allow students into sections to which there are seats available. Enrollment caps are set in order to control our instructorsí workload and room assignments are made based on the set enrollments. Overfilling sections not only hinders an instructor’s effectiveness, but could also violate building fire codes, therefore no adds will be made to classes for which no seats are available.

Release of Student Information

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, generally referred to as "FERPA" or the "Buckley Amendment," provides students with certain rights over their educational records, including the right to prevent disclosure to third parties without the student’s written consent. A detailed statement of these rights and a summary of IU’s institutional practices as mandated by the University Faculty Council are reprinted in both the Code of Student Ethics and in each semester’s Schedule of classes. Contact the FERPA office for more information about how the Amendment is relevant to students and parents.