Charles Lipson
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E-mail: [email protected]

Voice: 773.702.8053

Fax:    773.702.1689


Charles Lipson

Professor of Political Science

University of Chicago

5828 S. University Ave.

Chicago, IL 60637


Why Honesty Matters in High School
(a talk for students)

Honesty is important for its own sake, and it's vital for your education—in high school and later in college.. You can't learn how to write if you simply download your papers from the Internet. You can't learn algebra if you copy your problem sets from a friend or an answer book. You can't learn Spanish or chemistry if you don't complete the assignments yourself. You won't really know the materials in high school, and you won't be prepared for college-level work.

The only way to learn is to do your papers, readings, and problem sets yourself. Later, you'll build on what you learned as you face more advanced assignments. If you didn't do the earlier work yourself, you simply won't be prepared for the later assignments, or for more advanced courses..

Even your mistakes can be valuable (and, believe me, we all make them). They'll show you and your teachers where you need more help and more practice. Correcting your missteps is a vital part of learning. That's as true in Spanish as it is in biology.

Cheating denies you all that. It denies you a chance to learn. Even if you aren't caught (and you may well be!), you'll still miss what is most valuable about college: getting a real education. The only way to get that education is to work honestly. It's the high road to developing your own best values, too.

What does it mean to do honest work? The answer boils down to just three core principles:

  • When you say you did the work yourself, you actually did it.
  • When you rely on others’ work, you cite it. When you use their words, you quote them openly and accurately, and you cite them, too.
  • When you present research materials, you present them fairly and truthfully. That’s true whether the research involves data, documents, or the writings of other scholars.
                —from Chapter 1, Doing Honest Work in College

Of course, there are plenty of detailed rules about academic honesty. Textbooks are filled with them. But ultimately they boil down to just three core principles. These principles are easy to remember, and they apply to everybody in the university, students or teachers alike. Follow them and you'll do fine.

In talks with high school students, I explain what these principles mean, why they matter, and how they affect student papers, tests, and lab assignments. I highlight the proper use of the Internet, a major source of potential problems. In Q&A, we talk about issues that affect students directly, from writing papers to handling lab assignments.

Talks on Academic Honesty

My talks on academic honesty are based on more than twenty-five years of teaching. I am a professor at the University of Chicago and the author of Doing Honest Work in College (University of Chicago Press, 2004) and How to Write a BA Thesis (University of Chicago Press, 2005), as well as books on international politics. I have served as director of graduate studies in political science and am currently director of undergraduate studies.

Besides talks to high school students, I also give talks to university students, faculty, advisers, and administrators.
      • For about talks to college students, please click on Why Honesty Matters for Your Education (a talk for university students)
      • For talks to faculty and administrators, please click on Helping Your Students Do Honest Work (a talk for educators)
      • For about talks to foreign students studying in the U.S. and Canada, please click on Succeeding as an International Student

For more resources about academic honesty and teaching, see my Web page: Reading, Writing, and Plagiarism
Pages on this Web site
Lipson Courses
Lipson talks
Home List of my courses
International Politics
Talks on Education & Honesty
Books by Charles Lipson
Why Honesty Matters for Your Education
           (for university students)
Talks by Charles Lipson
Courses offered
Helping Your Students Do Honest Work
          (for faculty and advisers)
PIPES Workshop
World History
International Relations Resources 15th-18th c. World Politics
Why Honesty Matters in High School
          (for high-school students)
Reading, Writing, Plagiarism 19th c World Politics
How to Write a Thesis 20th c World Politics to 1945
Succeeding as an International Student in the U.S. and Canada      (customized for students, faculty, or advisers)
Politics and Culture 20th c World Politics 1945-91
Fun Big Wars: Ancient, Medieval, & Modern
Talks on Global Issues
News Pages
Social Science Core
What's New about the New Economy?
World News Power, Identity, Resistance The World America Made
Middle East News   Political Threats to Global Prosperity
Headline News   Turning Points of the 20th Century
World News-Web Audio   Democracies in World Politics
Advice for students
  Israel's Challenges
How to Write a Thesis   China in World Politics
Getting a Recommendation   The Cold War
  Why We Fought WW2
© Charles Lipson, 2008