Creating a culture of integrity depends on instructors reporting incidents. One of the factors strongly linked to cheating is the perception that there is a low risk of being caught.
Important steps in the reporting process
- Contact the student within two weeks of becoming aware that a student may have engaged in academic dishonesty. Email the student information that summarizes the nature of the academic integrity violation (e.g. plagiarism) and details so they understand the allegation. Provide the student an opportunity to meet with you so the student has an opportunity to respond. See sample text that can be emailed to the student. If the student does not respond by the requested deadline, proceed with filing a report.
- If the student requests a meeting, present your evidence, listen, and wait for an explanation. Remember that a decision needs to be made after you hear the student’s version of events. Then, decide on a “balance of probabilities” whether an academic integrity violation has occurred. This means that the burden of proof required is that the probability of the event happening is more than 50%. For many students, this meeting can be a teachable moment to educate students about scholarly practice.
- After you have met with the student you need to determine a penalty, if any, from the list of prescribed penalties in the policy (also listed on the incident report form). Penalties can include one or more of the following: (a) warning, (b) require student to re-do work or do supplementary work, (c) assign a low grade for the work, (d) assign a grade of “F” for the work (not the course). Cases where the instructor believes a more severe penalty is required should be referred to the Chair.
- Complete the CourSys online incident report (see instructions below) which automatically sends a copy to you, the student, the Registrar’s Office and your Department Chair/ contact person. Utilize the Case Cluster option when reporting an incident involving multiple students. The report must be filed in a timely manner and it is suggested that it be completed within one week of meeting with the student. The Academic Integrity Coordinator will send a follow up email to the student that explains that the report is kept in the student’s confidential file for the sole purpose of determining a penalty if there is a subsequent report of dishonesty. Appeal information and learning support resources are also included for the student.
For technical help with using Coursys, please email email@example.com.
Instructions to fill out the online incident report (on CourSys):
- The electronic form in CourSys can be found at coursys.sfu.ca/. Log in with your SFU computing ID.
- You will see your courses listed. Select the course in question, e.g. HIST 100- D100 section
- From the left hand side menu, select “Dishonesty Cases”
- From the left hand side menu, select either “Create Case Cluster” for group offenses or “ Create Individual Case” for a single student case of academic dishonesty
- Use the pull down menu to select the appropriate Student(s) from the class roster and select “Create Case” or “Create Cluster”
- What will follow is 5 step procedure so that you can see what stage you are in the process:
Step 1: Notify the Student. Here you are given the option to “Email the Student” through the Coursys system using a template that notifies the student that you have a concern around academic dishonesty and that you are giving them the opportunity to respond. If you choose to email them directly, you can do so by clicking “I have already notified the student”. If you have a group case, you will have the option to send the same email to all the students in the cluster where each student will be notified individually—check the “Also for” box for the additional students in the cluster you want emailed.
Step 2: Discuss with the Student. Here you should indicate whether or not the student responded. Indicate the date you met with the student if the student exercised their right to respond. For example, “No response to email after 5 days” or “Met with student on Aug 25 via zoom”
Step 3: Describe the Case. Here is where you will enter most of the information you have to support your assertion of academic dishonesty. You can attach any relevant documents (e.g. scan of an essay, Turnitin report, etc.) It can be helpful to include the student’s response.
Step 4: Determine the Penalty. Here you can select the appropriate penalty. You can pick more than one penalty, such as “redo the work” and “assign a low grade” with marks deducted. Hit “Save”.
Step 5: Review and Submit Report. Here check of box “Report is Ready to Send” after you review the report. Then click the red box “Send Report and Complete Case”
- Thank you for your commitment to academic integrity, You have now successfully submitted your report and will be copied on the report when it gets automatically emailed to the student and the Academic Integrity Coordinator in the Registrar’s Office.
- There are two more OPTIONAL steps. First, you can include “additional notes” for your own records. These notes are not part of the report, but may be subject to a FOIPOP request. Second, the “Confirm Penalty Given” is a way to keep track that the penalty you decided on has been recorded in your actual grade roster in SIMS.
I initiated an academic discipline investigation through CourSys but have determined that academic dishonesty has not occurred. Should I continue filing the report indicating the matter is resolved?
If in the course of your investigation you determine that there is insufficient evidence to file a report of academic dishonesty, assign the penalty “case dropped: no penalty assigned. No record will be sent to the Registrar’s Office if you choose this option.
How do I know my academic dishonesty report has been successfully submitted?
If a report is successfully completed, you will be copied on the report that is emailed to the student and the Academic Integrity Coordinator (Registrar’s Office). If you do not receive a copy of the report by email, that likely means you have not completed the final step. Make sure to check “Letter emailed through the System” and click on the red box entitled “Email the Student”.
How can I streamline the reporting process if I have an incident involving multiple students in the course?
When several students in a class are found to be cheating together, the case cluster option can be useful because the details of the report can be copied across all student cases in the cluster. To use this option, select “Dishonesty Cases”, and under ACTIONS choose “Create Case Cluster”, instead of “Create Individual Case”. If using the case cluster option, be careful to not copy personally identifying information across cases. If cases do diverge in their details, enter those details individually for students. An example of information that could be copied across all cases in a cluster would be: “Code submitted for assignment 1 was very similar to an online source (*url*). The level of similarity indicated that the online code was the basis of their submission. Similarities included overall approach/comments/variable names/etc. [expand as necessary]"
Incident report forms
If using a paper form instead of using CourSys, it is mandatory that a copy of the form is sent to (1) the student, (2) the Registrar’s Office by emailing the Academic Integrity Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org, and (3) the Chair of your academic unit.
- Instructor Incident Report form: can be used as an alternative to Coursys
- Chair Instructor Incident form: to be completed by the Chair when a case is referred to them by the instructor or the Chair. CourSys is not available for reports by the Chair.