Academic Integrity

Scholastic honesty is of fundamental importance to the functioning of any community of scholars. Although the pursuit of knowledge is always a communal project, individual academic achievement must be the result of a person’s own efforts and abilities. Members of an academic community are responsible for their own personal and academic development and for fostering an academic climate in which all members draw from and give back to the community. The University is charged with implementing those policies which will help bring about such an academic climate. However, the ultimate responsibility for creating a community of scholars, in which mutual self-respect flourishes, lies with the individual members of the community. Each member must, therefore, act according to the highest standards of academic honesty.

—from the preface of UMM’s Student Academic Integrity Policy

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Student Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between plagiarism, paraphrasing, and direct citation?

You commit plagiarism when you present someone else’s words or ideas as your own. Paraphrasing is expressing someone else’s ideas in your own words without altering the original speaker/author’s ideas and without merging your ideas or interpretations with those expressed by the other person. Direct citation is when you use the exact same words the original author used. Paraphrasing and direct citation are acceptable as long as they are properly cited.

Improper paraphrasing occurs when you paraphrase but don’t include a citation or include a citation in the wrong place. The citation should be included at the end of the paraphrase, since any material which follows the citation a reader will assume is your own work.

The Writing Room can help you with specific paraphrases and direct citations that you wish to include in your writing. You should check the style guide recommended by your professor(s) for specific citation conventions.

Can I “resubmit” a paper from a previous course for an assignment in a separate course?

Check with the specific instructor. In general, this is not allowable.

Is it OK to program formulas into a graphing calculator?

Check with the specific instructor. In general, this is not allowable.

If I have (or can get) an old test, is it OK to study from that test for a new (similar) test?

If the test is one that was returned by the instructor to students in a previous class, then you can use it to help you prepare for your test.

Where is the line drawn between collaborating and cheating?

This depends greatly on specific professors. Check individual instructors to know for sure. Generally, if the work is not yours and you did not directly participate or give significant input, credit should be given to the person who did do the work.

If I allow someone else to look at my work and use it as his or her own, am I guilty of academic dishonesty?

Yes. If you allow other students to use your work as their own, you are helping them to be academically dishonest, denying them the opportunity to learn from their work, as well as denying yourself credit for your hard work.

If I witness or suspect academic dishonesty, what avenue should I take to ensure the equality and caliber of everyone’s education at UMM?

If the dishonesty you witness is related to a particular course, inform the instructor of your concerns. In most cases, the instructor will deal with the matter appropriately. If, however, you feel the action taken to deal with the matter is not sufficient, you may bring the matter to the Committee on Academic Integrity for review. You should discuss the situation with the instructor, and let them know that you are considering filing a report with the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs.

If your instructor does not provide proctoring for in-class exams, you may request a proctor.

If I am accused of academic dishonesty, what are my rights as a UMM student? What is the process?

The UMM Student Academic Integrity Policy was written to protect your rights to due process. It is hoped that in the majority of cases satisfactory resolution can be reached by the instructor and student(s) involved.

If you contest the accusation or the penalty which the instructor wishes to impose, you may bring the matter to the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, who will then begin the process to mediate the dispute through the Committee on Academic Integrity.

Both you and the instructor can submit to the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs a separate report on the disagreement (see the Academic Integrity Policy subsection 2.2 for the details of what should go into the report), and the Committee on Academic Integrity will ensure that copies of all reports submitted are available to all parties involved.

The Committee on Academic Integrity will review the evidence and make a recommendation. If you disagree with the recommendation, you can appeal to the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, who will review the matter. There are no appeals beyond the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

What is the best way for me to prevent academic dishonesty?

Make sure your professors are clear on their policies. If they are unclear or vague, make sure to have them clarify. Have professors or the Writing Room read over rough drafts to spot unintentional plagiarism early. Make sure that your fellow students are holding up their end of the bargain. Academic dishonesty affects the entire UMM campus community.

Instructor Frequently Asked Questions

What are common types of academic dishonesty?

Academic dishonesty can take many forms and can vary from discipline to discipline. A science course with labs might see instances of falsifying data, whereas courses that involve significant writing assignments might suffer from cut and paste from the web or plagiarism such as improper citation or excessive paraphrasing. Instructors who use complex, time consuming assignments in their courses might see evidence of collaboration when individual work was expected or collaboration which borders on plagiarism. As well, cheating on tests might occur.

What can I do in my classroom to promote academic integrity?

In addition to a brief statement (see the sample statement accordion item on this page) about academic integrity in the syllabus that references the Student Conduct Code and consequences for cheating, take the time to discuss its importance to you and your discipline in the first class session. If your expectations change from assignment to assignment (some assignments involve collaboration and some should be completed individually, for example), include explicit written instructions for each assignment. Even if your expectations are the same for all assignments in your class, you might remind students of your expectations with each assignment.

It is typically not sufficient to assume your students will know what constitutes academic dishonesty in your class, so it is up to you to inform them. Providing clear guidelines throughout the semester can prevent confusion and confrontation later.

What are appropriate penalties for academic dishonesty?

Deciding what penalty should be imposed for academic dishonesty rests with you, the instructor for the course. You may talk with other members of your discipline to find out which penalties they impose. You can also talk with senior colleagues outside your discipline, your division chair, or seek resources from the Faculty Center for Learning and Teaching.

The penalties for academic dishonesty can range from a zero score on a particular question to an F or N grade for the entire course. With such a wide range of possibilities, it is important to think of potential penalties before meeting with the class for the first class session. If you can provide clearly defined penalties in your syllabus, that can help you deal with situations which may arise.

Sometimes a student commits academic dishonesty through a misunderstanding rather than a desire to better his/her grade. Although still a violation, if this seems to be the case, a relatively minor grade penalty (zero on a particular question or assignment) may be in order, coupled with a discussion with the student about the academic dishonesty they have committed, so it won’t occur again. More serious infractions (cheating on tests or quizzes, or plagiarism in writing assignments) may require harsher penalties. Again, it is up to you as the instructor to decide on an appropriate penalty even in these more difficult cases. You might weigh the seriousness of the infraction with the effect on the student’s final grade of getting zero on the assignment. If this doesn’t seem to be sufficient penalty, an F for the course may be appropriate. Keep in mind—academic dishonesty is serious business, and an F in the course may well be an appropriate penalty for serious infractions. If this seems like an appropriate penalty and you are a less experienced faculty member, you may want to discuss the situation (without naming names) with your peers.

What if I suspect a student of cheating? What proof do I need? What do I do next?

You need clear proof that a student has cheated. Confiscate any papers that are in question or, if the cheating has occurred during a test, any materials not allowed during the test. If the cheating is in the form of plagiarism, obtain a copy of the document which was plagiarized.

Once you have evidence of cheating, you will probably want to consider what an appropriate penalty would be prior to meeting with the student (although the penalty may change based on your conversation with the student).

How should I approach a student whom I suspect of cheating?

Speak to the student outside of class, away from other students. Give them a chance to explain their actions, and see if they agree with you that what they have done is cheating. Try your best to keep the situation nonconfrontational, and be ready to explain to the student the penalty you are going to impose. Be professional. Since the student may contest your claim, or may not accept your penalty, be prepared to inform the student about the procedure for resolving disagreements regarding academic dishonesty (discussed later in this FAQ).

Accusing someone of cheating can be stressful, on yourself as well as the student. Remember that it is possible the student is not aware that their actions constituted academic dishonesty, and he/she might feel upset upon hearing your accusation. Although “ignorance of the law” is not a defence, this would certainly be a teachable moment and may impact the type of penalty you impose.

It is important to give the student a chance to talk, explain, and offer his/her opinion of the situation. In all cases, it is hoped that a satisfactory resolution to the situation can be reached between the instructor and student, and at this stage this should be your primary goal.

A student admits to cheating and agrees with the penalty I have imposed. Do I still have to report this?

Yes, you should still file a report with the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs (there is a form you can use on the Academic Integrity webpage). Reporting offenses which have been resolved between faculty and students is important to help identify students who are repeat offenders, which is a violation of the Student Conduct code at the University of Minnesota. Identifying repeat offenders is not just to punish a student for being a repeat offender, but also to identify a student who may need assistance to succeed at Morris.

What if a student contests my claim that they have cheated or does not agree with the penalty I would like to impose?

In this case you must file a report with the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, who will then begin the process to mediate the dispute through the Committee on Academic Integrity. Encourage the student to read Morris’s Academic Integrity Policy so they will be informed throughout the process.

If it comes to this, be professional and discuss with the student the next step in the process of mediation. Ensure that the student knows that both you and he/she can submit to the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs a separate report on the disagreement (see the Academic Integrity Policy subsection 2.2 for the details of what should go into the report), and the Committee on Academic Integrity will ensure that copies of all reports submitted are available to all parties involved.

I use TAs in my classes. What do they need to know about academic dishonesty?

If you use TAs to proctor exams, you should discuss with the TA before the exam what they should do if they detect instances of academic dishonesty during the exam. The TA is allowed to confiscate any material relevant to the dishonesty which has occurred (any improper aids, or exams of students giving or receiving aid). They should report the dishonesty to the course instructor and give the instructor any confiscated materials. If your TA has not confiscated evidence, but feels there was some cheating during the test, you can still examine the tests themselves for evidence of illegal collaboration or dishonesty.

If your TA is grading assignments for your class, he/she should bring any concerns (with evidence) about academic dishonesty to you.

In any situation of academic dishonesty reported by a TA, it is the instructor’s responsibility to determine an appropriate penalty and deal with the student(s) involved.

Sample Syllabus Statement

Academic integrity is essential to a positive teaching and learning environment. All students enrolled in University courses are expected to complete coursework responsibilities with fairness and honesty. Failure to do so by seeking unfair advantage over others or misrepresenting someone else’s work as your own can result in disciplinary action. The University Student Conduct Code defines scholastic dishonesty as follows.

Scholastic dishonesty is:

  • submission of false records of academic achievement;
  • cheating on assignments or examinations;
  • plagiarizing;
  • altering, forging, or misusing a University academic record;
  • taking, acquiring, or using test materials without faculty permission;
  • acting alone or in cooperation with another to falsify records or to obtain dishonestly grades, honors, awards, or professional endorsement.