Academic Honesty

Academic honesty is central to maintaining the high standard of academic excellence to which Simon Fraser University is dedicated.  The Department of Biological Sciences is therefore committed to promoting and maintaining integrity as it relates to all aspects of teaching, student learning, and evaluation.  To ensure that evaluations of students fairly reflect their ability and effort, we endorse the guidelines laid out by the Senate Committee on Academic Integrity in Student Learning and Evaluation (SCAISLE). These guidelines outline the need to promote awareness of what constitutes academic dishonesty, including plagiarism, and to clearly establish the consequences for dishonest behaviour.

Resources for students

For guidance about Academic Honesty in general, students should see the “Code of Academic Honesty” in Policy T10.02 and in the General Regulations of the Simon Fraser University undergraduate Studies Calendar.  Students are also encouraged to explore resources available at the Simon Fraser Academic Integrity homepage and the Learning Commons, and conduct the plagiarism tutorial provided by the Library.



Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of other people’s ideas or work. Plagiarism may be unintentional and can be avoided through careful work habits and familiarity with academic conventions.  But whether intentional or unintentional, plagiarism is recognized as a serious academic offence.  The university’s strong stance against plagiarism reflects our shared commitment to intellectual honesty, and the original contributions of each student validate the university’s role as a centre of learning.

Forms of plagiarism

  1. Misrepresenting someone else’s work as one’s own: e.g. copying another student’s paper or an article form a journal or website; buying an essay from a term-paper mill
  2. Patchwriting: writing a paper by simply patching together blocks of text, perhaps with slight modification, taken from one or more sources  (see example #1 and #2).
  3. Paraphrasing or summarizing information from a source without citation (see example #3).
  4. Quoting material without proper use of quotation marks (even if otherwise cited correctly).
  5. Changing, distorting or misrepresenting quoted material.  If a source is quoted, it should be quoted word for word and cited.
  6. Translating a work from one language to another without citation.

Here is some advice on how to avoid plagiarism:

  1. As you read source material, think carefully about what you are reading and note which material is relevant to your paper.
  2. Take notes in your own words, preferably in point form rather than in complete sentences. Don’t be intimidated by the writing of your sources. Don’t think that you cannot explain their ideas clearly in your own words.
  3. Think about what you are reading while you are making the notes. Make sure you understand what you are reading and what you are writing. You can’t explain complex ideas or information in your own words if you don’t clearly understand what you’re trying to say.
  4. Quotations should be used sparingly. In most cases, you should explain the ideas or information you obtained from a source in your own words. However, if you do copy the authors’ words, make sure that you use quotation marks and cite your source.
  5. Define or rephrase any terminology that would not be familiar to a fellow student in your course.

Other forms of academic dishonesty

  1. Cheating on an exam. This includes the use of books, notes, and electronic aids not approved by an instructor in closed book exams or unauthorized sharing of books and notes during a closed book exam.
  2. Using or attempting to use other students’ work on assignments or answers during examinations.
  3. Failing to take reasonable measures to prevent others from copying your work or using your answers during an exam.
  4. Submitting the same essay, presentation or assignment for more than one course without prior approval.
  5. Preventing fair access to library resources, e.g., by hiding books or by signing out short-term reserve materials and keeping them overdue when they are needed by other students.
  6. Lying about reasons for missing an exam, handing in an assignment late, etc.

A more detailed list is provided in Section 3 of Policy T10.02 (

Consequences of academic dishonesty in Biological Sciences

The consequences of academic dishonesty range from a warning, to failing an assignment, to failing a course, to suspension from the university.  Students suspected of academic dishonesty will be asked to meet with their instructor. During this meeting, the instructor will outline the alleged offence, discuss the consequences of academic dishonesty and provide information about how to appeal against the allegation or any punishment that may be imposed by the Department (as per policy T10.03 sections 2.1d and 8.0, see The punishment imposed will depend on the form of dishonesty detected, and whether it is a repeat offense.
Consistent with new initiatives across the university, the Associate Chair will be informed in writing of the nature of the incident in all cases of dishonesty, including cases where only a warning is given.  Policy T10.03 describes situations where the Chair must be informed in writing, but the new initiatives are to inform the Chair or their designate in writing in all cases.  Within the Department of Biological Sciences, the Associate Chair is to be informed.
Students will be advised that a report will be retained within the department and at the registrar’s office.  If other incidents of academic dishonesty have been reported within this or other departments, the Associate Chair may decide that additional penalties are warranted or that the case should be referred to the University Board on Student Discipline (UBSD). Cases referred to UBSD can result in students being suspended from or denied readmission to the university.

Forms of plagiarism: examples

Source material:
Rabbani MA et al. 2003. Monitoring Expression Profiles of Rice Genes under Cold, Drought, and High-Salinity Stresses and Abscisic Acid Application Using cDNA Microarray and RNA Gel-Blot Analyses. Plant Physiology 133: 1755-1767.
Drought, high salinity, and low temperature are the most common environmental stress factors that influence plant growth and development and place major limits on plant productivity in cultivated areas worldwide. To overcome these limitations and improve crop yield under stress conditions, it is important to improve stress tolerance in crops. The responses of plants to various abiotic stresses have been important subjects of physiological studies (Levitt, 1980) and, more recently, of molecular and transgenic studies (Bajaj et al., 1999; Hasegawa et al., 2000; Zhang et al., 2000). The identification of novel genes, determination of their expression patterns in response to the stresses, and an improved understanding of their functions in stress adaptation will provide us the basis of effective engineering strategies to improve stress tolerance (Cushman and Bohnert, 2000).
A number of genes have been reported to be induced by drought, high-salinity, and low-temperature stresses, and their products are thought to function in stress tolerance and response (Bray, 1997; Thomashow, 1999; Shinozaki and Yamaguchi-Shinozaki, 2000). Many stress-inducible genes are responsive to both water stress and low temperature. Some of these genes are induced only by water stress, and several genes respond only to low temperature. Abscisic acid (ABA) is produced under such environmental stresses and plays an important role in the tolerance of plants to the stresses (Ingram and Bartels, 1996; Shinozaki and Yamaguchi-Shinozaki, 2000; Zhu, 2002). Analyses of the expression of these stress-inducible genes in Arabidopsis have indicated that ABA-dependent and -independent signal pathways function in the induction of the stress-inducible genes. These indicate the existence of complex regulatory mechanisms between perception of abiotic stress signals and gene expression (Shinozaki and Yamaguchi-Shinozaki, 2000; Zhu, 2002).
Example #1
Drought, high salt levels, and freezing temperature are the most common environmental stress factors that may affect plant growth and development and place significant limits on plant productivity in agricultural areas worldwide. To overcome these problems and improve crop yield under stress conditions, it is important to improve crop plants’ tolerance of stress factors. (Rabbani et al 2003).

What’s wrong?  This is plagiarized. This illustrates patchwriting, in which the sentence structure and key phrases are retained with slight modification from the original source.

Example #2
Drought, high salinity, and low temperature place major limits on plant productivity in cultivated areas worldwide and are the most common environmental stress factors that influence plant growth and development (Rabbani et al 2003).
What’s wrong?  This is plagiarism. Reversing the order of phrases in a sentence is not paraphrasing. This sentence is copied.
Example #3

Tolerance of plants to environmental stress may be increased by production of abscisic acid (ABA).
What’s wrong?  This is plagiarism because no citation is given.
Example #4

“Analyses of the expression of these stress-inducible genes in Arabidopsis have indicated that ABA-dependent and -independent signal pathways function in the induction of the stress-inducible genes.” (Rabbani et al 2003).
What’s wrong?  This is not plagiarism, but this quote should be rewritten in your own words.