Charles Lipson’s Doing Honest Work in College, Essay Example


As noted by the University of Chicago Press in its official review, some of the most important benefits related to Charles Lipson’s Doing Honest Work in College: How to Prepare Citations, Avoid Plagiarism, and Achieve Real Academic Success includes the fact that this text has become an “integral part of academic integrity and first-year experience programs” for undergrad students in many U.S. colleges and universities. In addition, Lipson has written this text in such a way that all students will be able to understand it and then apply its principles “in all academic situations–from paper writing and independent research to study groups and lab work” (University of Chicago Press).

Another benefit is that this text has been shown to help reduce undergrad student cheating and plagiarizing. Perhaps one reason for this is because Lipson provides numerous up-to-date examples on how to properly quote and cite a wide range of sources and documents, along with “how to take good notes and use them properly in papers and assignments” for many different types of classes (University of Chicago Press) in order to avoid plagiarism. After thoroughly reading Lipson’s excellent text, I did not find anything about it that was not beneficial. It is clearly written, well-focused, and well-designed and should be a mandatory addition to the required texts for every undergraduate class.


Personally, I found that Lipson’s three “bedrock principles” are much in line with my own views on academic honesty and succeeding at the college/university level–1), “When you say you did the work yourself, you actually did it”; 2), “When you rely on someone else’s work, you cite it” and “When you use their words, you quote them openly and accurately”; and 3), “When you present research materials, you present them fairly and truthfully” (3). Also, I noticed that Lipson’s advice related to listening to a professor’s rules for each assignment and asking for clarification if some confusion exists about the assignment (4) has long been one of my personal rules for not only succeeding in college but also in life, meaning that listening to what those who are more experienced with life and how to live it have to say can make all of the difference.

Applying What I Learned:

First of all, one valuable lesson that I learned from reading Lipson’s text is related to take-home exams which are often easy to cheat on because at home one has access to the Internet and books that are in the home (or someone else’s home). Lipson points out that “Even if you are allowed to use published works and your own notes, you cannot ask others for help” (8). This would include family members, friends, and especially those who are in the same class at the same time.

I also learned that even when a student quotes an old document like the Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln or the Declaration of Independence that you must cite it properly. Certainly, just because a document or a source is old does not mean that it should not be cited, even when the original author or authors are long deceased. In addition, I learned that it is not acceptable to take a paper that someone else has written and turn it in as your own work. As Lipson puts it, “You cannot hand in the same paper to more than one class” (9), such as writing a paper for an English literature class during one semester and using the exact same paper for another class on English literature. But it appears to be acceptable to take the same paper and rewrite it by using different sources and wording. Therefore, I plan to apply these observations to my own life and hope that others will do the same.

Academic Integrity:

As defined by American University, academic integrity is closely related to “intellectual honesty” or being honest with oneself when using copyrighted material and documents, creating arguments both pro and con, and other “activities related to the pursuit of knowledge and understanding.” In essence, academic integrity revolves around responsibilities concerning “high ethical standards of academic conduct” (What Does Academic Integrity Mean?).

Therefore, academic integrity matters greatly, for without it, a student will be unable to achieve a well-rounded education and will be viewed by his/her teachers and instructors (and fellow students) as unreliable and not to be trusted. In other words, a sound education “is built through many laboring minds doing honest intellectual work,” while dishonest intellectual work or cheating “undermines an individual’s education as well as the foundation” of the society and culture in which a student lives (What Does Academic Integrity Mean?).

Using the Internet:

Lipson provides three basic guiding points concerning the Internet–1), that the quality of information on the Internet varies greatly, due to the lack of quality control, which makes it necessary to cross-check all information, data, and facts; 2), that much like the problem with quality, the context of information on the Internet may not be wholly accurate nor in-depth enough to “understand the topic and explore its significance;” and 3), it is relatively simple to “drag and drop” information from a website, such as cutting and pasting a paragraph and inserting it into a paper (12). Some of the fixes for these three areas includes screening sources for information that is reliable and trustworthy, such as from peer reviewed journals; searching for websites that provide a wider context of information which helps to expand the research scope; and lastly, avoiding dragging and dropping too much information which could lead to confusion over the author and location of the information (Lipson 13).

Actions and Lifestyle Choices While in College:

Of course, the actions and lifestyles choices that I make while in college will undoubtedly affect my future. Since Lipson’s main focus in Parts One and Two of his text is maintaining academic honesty and integrity, I will strive upon graduating to keep his rules and tips in mind, just in case I decide to further my education at the Master’s degree level. One area that Lipson explores is buying academic papers from the Internet which he calls outright dishonest. Personally, I also consider this as dishonest behavior and as a form of cheating. In addition, I plan on becoming more involved in classroom discussions which Lipson states helps to “foster a more lively seminar and a richer learning experience” (28). Certainly, being more active in classroom discussions will also help out in the future, such as when I am required to speak before a group of co-workers or perhaps even a group of my own students.

Other Insights:

After reading Lipson’s text, I have come to realize that my behavior in a classroom setting in relation to academic honesty and integrity affects everyone involved, either positively or negatively. Also, I feel that my communication skills as a student and person have improved greatly as a result of studying Lipson’s text. For example, in his discussion on honor codes which can be found in most college and university institutions, Lipson notes that the “most profound goal of the honor system,” according to most students, “was a positive one–to create an ethos of honesty and responsibility” in not only an academic setting but also in one’s social life (32). Of course, practicing this “ethos of honesty and responsibility” will also help a person to achieve great things in life, not to mention inspiring others to do the same.

Steps to Better Manage My Time:

As pointed out by Annette Nellen, there are seven basic steps to better manage one’s time as a student–1), always be organized by using “time saving tools” like calendars and “to-do lists;” 2), always plan ahead, such as determining how long a certain project will take to complete; 3), prioritize tasks, such as setting “goals for both the short term and long term as to what you want to accomplish;” 4), avoid overload, such as taking “short breaks during study and work periods;” 5), always practice effective study techniques; 6), always be flexible because when the “unexpected happens. . . you need to be able to fit it into your schedule;” and 7), always have a vision and “Don’t forget the “big picture” in regards to doing a particular task and if it is important to long-term personal goals (Manage Your Work, Don’t Let It Manage You: Tips for Managing Your Time and Getting Ahead).


Lastly, I would highly recommend that all undergrad students read and study Lipson’s text; in fact, I feel that it should be required reading. In my opinion, the most important lesson that a student can learn from Lipson is to remain academically honest at all times and that when using the Internet, always be certain to quote an author with the proper citations and never pass off someone else’s work as your own.

Works Cited

Lipson, Charles. Doing Honest Work in College: How to Prepare Citations, Avoid Plagiarism, and Achieve Real Academic Success. University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Nellen, Annette. Manage Your Work, Don’t Let It Manage You: Tips for Managing Your Time and Getting Ahead. Web. 2000. 18 May 2013. <>.

University of Chicago Press. Google Books. Web. 2013. 16 May 2013. <>.

What Does Academic Integrity Mean? Web. 2013. 17 May 2013. <>.