Academic dishonesty: what is it?
Students are expected to take responsibility for their learning. To assist students in understanding scholarly expectations, the following actions are examples of violations of the Student Academic Integrity Policy. Please note that this list is not exhaustive.
Scenario: It is your first term at SFU and you have to write a ten page final paper for your History course. You find yourself pushed for time as you juggle completing your paper, studying for your final exams, and completing your volunteer work at your local charity. As you write the outline for your paper, you cut and paste sections from the internet that you find will be helpful in supporting your thesis statement. As you finish your papers, you realise that you have forgotten where you got the information from. Since your paper is due, you do your best to cite what you can remember but do not make mention of all the sources you used when you submit the paper.
Offense: By not providing accurate citations, you have failed to acknowledge the work of another author, which devalues the work of that author. S2.3.1
Lesson: Good academic writing consists of researching information from relevant sources, giving credit for those previous ideas through proper citation, and assembling them in a manner that conveys your original interpretation, opinion or idea. Moreover, good study habits require good time management skills.
Take the plagiarism tutorial to find out how to avoid academic misconduct. The Student Learning Commons has excellent information on Time Management as well as staff who can help you develop your writing practice.
Likely penalty: Consideration given for first offense by new student.
- Paper needs to be re-done with proper citations.
- Attendance at the SLC workshop entitled “Using Sources in Your Paper?”
- Reduction of final grade by one letter grade.
2. Submitting shared work as individual work (Collusion)
Scenario: You have enrolled in an economics course with several friends who are in your program. The course instructor has specified that all the online exams must be completed individually. Since you and your friends have found that collaborating has worked well in other courses, you text each other during the exam to check on how you are answering the questions.
Offense: Collaborating on assignments without the permission of the instructor is considered to be collusion and is an academic integrity offense as per s. 2.3.6. Unauthorized access of information pertaining to the examination is considered cheating and using a mobile phone or any other device without permission is prohibited under s.2.3.3.
Lesson: It is important to learn the difference between collusion and collaboration. Collusion is a form of cheating that occurs when work is submitted as individual work even though the work was not done individually. Collaborating on assignments is encouraged and permitted when the instructor has assigned a team project. Collusion during exams provdes an unfair advantage and is counter to the fundamental premise of academic integrity.
Likely penalty: Zero on the exam.
3. Submitting an assignment or paper more than once (Cheating)
Scenario: You are in your second year in the Criminology program. You are assigned a final essay for the class, and you realise that you have already written an essay on a very similar topic for your Health Sciences course in a previous term. Your Health Sciences paper was well researched, had proper citations, and received a very good mark. You modify the introduction and conclusion and make minor changes so that the paper can be submitted with a new title for your Criminology course. You decide re-submitting your assignment will give you more time to focus on your other courses, and you do not check with your instructor if this is allowed.
Offense: Students cannot re-submit the same (or substantially the same) essay, project, presentation, or other assignment more than once, unless prior approval has been obtained from the instructor. You are receiving additional credit for a new course without engaging in a process where you will learn new material. In addition, this is not fair to the other students in your class who are producing an original paper. S 2.3.2
Lesson: SFU encourages students to take courses from different disciplines so that each graduating student has been exposed to a broad range of perspectives. Each course is an opportunity to build your existing knowledge base. Speak to your instructor during office hours about your previous assignments if you wish to discuss how previous work can be used as a building block for future work, and remember to cite yourself in the new paper.
Likely penalty: Zero on the work
4. Cheating during an exam: Using any unauthourized source to receive or share information during the exam
Scenario: You have found it difficult to remain interested in an elective course during remote instruction and are having difficulty staying focussed with online assignments. You have done poorly on the mid-term and do not know what to focus your attention on when studying for the final exam. Even though you know it is prohibited, you decide to visit online websites during the exam as you feel the instructor has demanded an unreasonable amount of information to be memorized.
Offense: Unauthorized access of information pertaining to the examination is considered to be cheating and accessing web pages during online exams or using a mobile phoneor any other device without permission is prohibited under S2.3.3. By cheating in an exam, you are gaining an unfair advantage in the course compared to the other students in the class.
Lesson: Speaking to your instructor or TA during office hours is a valuable opportunity to understand an instructor’s expectations and clarify any confusion you have on the course material. Poor time management leads to unnecessary stress and exam anxiety. Meet with someone at the Student Learning Commons to discuss your concerns and learn tools for effective time management.
Likely penalty: Either an F grade or an FD grade in course imposed by Chair
5. Submitting a purchased assignment or essay (Contract Cheating)
Scenario: In your first year, you received a warning for improper citation, and a report of academic dishonesty for plagiarism was placed on your file. You are now in your third year in the Faculty of Science and are enrolled in a Philosophy course to satisfy your Writing/Breadth Humanities requirement. You have done well in all of your science courses but have done poorly on the Philosophy assignments. The final paper required for Philosophy is worth 50% of the grade and you need a good mark in the essay to pass the course. You search online for essay writing tips and come across a website that offers originally written essays with a “plagiarism-free guarantee” for a reasonable price. You decide that it is in your best interest to purchase an essay for the Philosophy course as it is outside of your major and you cannot afford to fail a course.
Offense: Submitting work as one’s own when it has been purchased or acquired from another source is a very serious academic integrity violation. Even though you are paying for the purchased work, you are presenting yourself to be the creator of work that you did not contribute to. S. 2.3.4. Furthermore, this behavior is unfair to the other students in the class who have invested their time into completing the work themselves.
Lesson: Good academic writing is a valuable skill in academia and in the work place. Being able to communicate in writing in a variety of styles and to a range of audiences is a highly prized skill, and is one of the hallmarks of a well-educated person. Purchasing an essay is a short-term solution to a larger problem of knowing how to write well. Fortunately, there are many excellent resources to develop your writing. Remember, good writing is not learned in just one course but develops over time. The Student Learning Commons offers free writing consultations and workshops to develop and improve effective academic writing. Students with English as an Additional Language can also receive in-person support through the Academic English Coaching program.
Likely penalty: FD grade imposed by Chair for second offense
6. Falsifying documents (eg, Doctor’s note) to gain an advantage
Scenario: You are in your final year of your degree program. For the past two years you have supported yourself with a part-time job and student loans. You have applied to graduate school and need to get an A in a required course in order to be competitive for the graduate program. You have been very stressed during the final exam period. As you head into final exams, you believe that you are not prepared enough. A friend offers to create a fake medical note to buy you some time. You decide that a one week extension will make a big difference and inform your instructor that you cannot write the exam due to illness. You submit a forged medical note.
Offense: Engaging in misrepresentation, including falsifying documents, to gain an advantage in a course, is a serious offense of the Academic Integrity policy under s. 2.3.10. By misrepresenting your situation, you are attempting to unfairly get an advantage (more time to study) in a course that the other students in the class do not have. Remember that any type of document alteration violates the Academic Integrity policy, such as altering test answers after you have received your test back, or submitting a falsified documentation to excuse an absence.
Lesson: Speaking to your instructor or TA about your concerns is always a better approach than misrepresenting your situation. Lying to an instructor or staff is considered a very serious offense and forging documentation is fraud. If you are worried about managing your course load, seek out help early on from your academic advisor, your instructor, or contact the SFU Health and Counselling team for support.
Likely penalty: FD grade imposed by Chair – FD grades remain on transcript for two years after graduation and limits chances of acceptance to graduate school.
7. Accessing exam information from an unauthorized source (Pay to Pass)
Scenario: You have to take a required course in statistics for your major. You are worried because you have not done well in your previous quantitative courses and are concerned you may fail the course. You see an advertisement from a company that promised to offer tutoring services that guarantees a B+ grade if you attend a tutorial on preparing for that course’s final exam. At the tutorial, you are provided you with a list of exam questions previously used for the course along with answers to the test questions.
Offense: Obtaining unauthorized examination material is a serious violation of the academic integrity policy. Sharing, selling or using an instructor’s proprietary instructional, examination or other course materials is listed as an offense under s. 2.3.15. Furthermore, an instructor course materials (PowerPoint slides, lecture notes, exams, etc.) are all protected by Copyright law. Sharing or selling an instructor’s proprietary work is strictly prohibited.
Lesson: By engaging in the services of a Pay to Pass company, you put yourself at risk of being sanctioned by the University. More importantly, you will not learn the material needed to be successful in your academics of future career.
Likely Penalty: FD grade imposed by Chair – FD grades remain on transcript for two years after graduation and limits chances of acceptance to graduate school.