University Policies and Procedures


Student Conduct and Plagiarism

Encouraging Academic Integrity and Preventing Plagiarism

Plagiarism can be a confusing topic for both students and instructors. Take a proactive approach by communicating openly with students about the problem of plagiarism, encouraging and teaching proper citation methods, and devising assignments that promote original thought. You can find more information for both students and faculty here.

A SFU plagiarism tutorial is available through this link here.

Some instructors give extra points as incentive to students who can prove that they have taken the tutorial. To track student completion of the tutorial, email to arrange access for your students to the tutorial via Canvas.

Here you will find a list of hints and tips to share with your students to help them avoid plagiarising.


Managing Academic Misconduct

Instructors pursuing possible cases of academic misconduct/dishonesty should contact and meet with students about the matter. Instructors should have a frank discussion with the student(s) about the particulars. Instructors should keep careful records and documentation of the materials relevant to the case. If there are sufficient grounds to report a case of academic dishonesty, an Academic Dishonesty Report should be completed and filed as appropriate. You can find out more about the procedures you will need to follow here.

Make sure to complete the entire online reporting procedure; otherwise, the reports are not filed with the Registrar’s Office. Alternatively, hard copy forms are available in the education programs area. Additional questions may be directed to Nienke van Houten, Director of Undergraduate Programs:

Please find additional information via this link: Important Definitions.


FHS Academic Integrity Advisor

The FHS Academic Integrity Advisor is Dr. David Whitehurst. The Advisor is available as a resource for faculty and temporary instructors on policy and reporting procedures, as well as best practices for teaching and classroom management to support academic integrity. Instructors should contact and include Dr. Whitehurst in all instances and reports of academic dishonesty to advise and help develop awareness of trends or patterns that may need to be addressed.

To visit the website of the SFU Academic Integrity Office, please click here.


Academic Integrity: A Summary of Important Considerations for Members of the Faculty of Health Sciences

1. The Principles

The Academic Integrity (AI) policy and procedures at SFU are based primarily on the ideas of natural justice and procedural fairness, not civil or criminal law.  The overall intent is to create accountability and maintain the integrity of the effort that all students and instructors put into their teaching and learning. Instructors should make an effort to balance consistency with attention to the uniqueness of individuals and their contexts as they consider cases of academic dishonesty.

The way the AI policy is implemented is often called a decentralized model because the primary points of responsibility lie with each instructor and student. There are some centralized offices and personnel, which are described below. TAs may be involved in maintaining academic integrity standards (e.g., communicating expectations on assignment and examination rules, participating in invigilation to detect and deter cheating during an examination, alerting the instructor to possible plagiarism while grading a paper, etc.) but they are not responsible for carrying out the policy. Steps in the disciplinary process must not be delegated to TAs.

Instructors make determinations on cases of academic dishonesty (plagiarism, cheating in examinations, unauthorized collusion, etc.) based on a balance of probabilities; that is, consideration of the question, is it more likely than not that a case of dishonesty has occurred based on the information available?

Instructors are required to meet with the student, or at least provide the opportunity for a meeting This allows the student to explain their situation and offer relevant details. More on the process follows below, but the idea is that people involved have their voices heard. Students are also afforded opportunity to appeal cases. Timeliness is an important consideration in dealing with cases of potential dishonesty. Faculty should not make up and implement their own procedure for dealing with cases of academic dishonesty

2. The People

  • Instructor – faculty member with main level of responsibility in conducting the procedure and adhering to AI policy
  • Student(s) – an individual student or group cases may be involved
  • Academic Integrity Advisor (AIA) – (David Whitehurst) – resource for both students and instructors. Not formally involved in filing reports, determining penalties, making appeals, etc. Each SFU department or faculty has an AIA
  • Academic Integrity Coordinator – (Arlette Stewart) – resource and liaison for instructors, AIAs, and other administrators such as the Registrar
  • Chair – (Undergraduate Program Chair, Nienke van Houten; Graduate Program Chair, Lawrence McCandless) – has a role in reviewing repeat or multiple cases and reports filed in HSCI courses. They may also be called upon to add further penalties for a single compelling case of dishonesty
  • Registrar – (Tom Nault) – has a role in reviewing repeat or multiple cases filed in courses outside of HSCI
  • Ombudsperson (Laura Reid), SFSS Student Advocate (Trish Everett), GSS Student Advocate (Harjap Grewal) – the Ombudsperson is an impartial resource person who can help people navigate AI policy/procedures (and other SFU policies). The SFSS Student Advocate is a resource person for undergraduate students at SFU and can assist with AI matters for students. The GSS Student Advocate is a resource person for Graduate Students who can assist with AI matters

3. The Process

If there is a possible case of academic dishonesty, faculty should initiate and follow the procedure through the electronic filing system at CourSys was updated in Fall 2022 to make it simpler and more streamlined. The AI procedure for SFU is embedded into this system and ensures that faculty follow the procedure correctly, e.g., ensuring that students are contacted to arrange a meeting to discuss the case. Faculty should automatically have their course(s) available in the system with student rosters preloaded. Individual and cluster or group cases can be chosen, as appropriate.

NOTE: instructors must file a report within two weeks of becoming aware of possible academic dishonesty (Section 4.1.1 of the procedures). This is the only timeline made explicit for instructors.

The online step-by-step procedure allows a recording of meeting details, documenting the pertinent evidence (e.g., file uploads), and the findings of the case to be stated. Unless there is reason to dismiss the case, it should be followed through to the very end, including the choice and implementation of a penalty, to ensure that an Academic Integrity Report (AIR) is filed.

Whether in person or online (e.g., via Zoom), a meeting with a student is important (it is not required student decline to attend a meeting). In either situation, the faculty member is still responsible for determining if there is academic dishonesty on the balance of probabilities. Both student and faculty may bring a support person to the meeting. More than one meeting is possible, though it is not a frequent occurrence. If it is a group case, the faculty member can offer to meet with individual students, with the entire group, or both (but note that students have the option for an individual meeting if they request it).

An instructor has only four options for implementing a penalty if they have determined there is a sufficient basis for a case and an AIR is to be filed. According to SFU policy, these four options are:

A.         give the student a warning

B.         require the student to redo the work, or to do supplementary work, which may be related to academic integrity

C.         assign a low grade for the work

D.        assign a grade of “F” for the work

It is possible to give more than one of these: for example, a student can be given a written warning and be asked to redo the work. Deciding on which penalty is appropriate may be influenced by the severity of the dishonesty, whether it was deliberate, and other considerations. Section 6.7 in the policy lists five factors that must be considered when deciding upon the appropriate penalty to be imposed for an act of academic dishonesty or academic misconduct. If the instructor finds that the case of dishonesty is particularly alarming, they can refer the case to the Chair, who may decide to apply a more severe penalty (e.g., assign an F for the course). All of these penalty options, including case referral to the Chair or dropping cases, are provided in the online system for the instructor.

Once the AIR is completed and filed, a copy is distributed to four people: the student, the instructor, the Chair, and the Registrar. The Chair and Registrar are copied on the reports to monitor for multiple AIRs and consider whether additional penalties should be imposed. Multiple AIRs do not automatically result in additional penalties, but they These additional penalties include such actions as a lower course grade or failing the course due to academic dishonesty (an ‘FD’ grade on the transcript). The Chair and the Registrar must also offer the opportunity to meet with the student and discuss the matter before deciding if an additional penalty is warranted.

AIRs are confidential.  They are distributed as described above, and not released to other offices or personnel. They are not seen by other instructors or other administrators. They do not affect enrollment or course registration, application to co-op, eligibility for aid and awards, graduation, etc. They are designed to be private, avoid excessive punishment, prevent possible prejudice, and allow learning from mistakes.

Students have a right to appeal an AIR.  The appeal must be filed within three weeks of receiving an AIR, as determined by the instructor, Chair, or Registrar. The student can appeal the finding as incorrect; i.e., there is no academic dishonesty, and this appeal is reviewed by the University Board on Student Discipline (UBSD). In addition, the student can appeal based on the penalty severity; i.e., there is academic dishonesty but they believe the penalty is too severe. This appeal is reviewed by the Senate Committee on Disciplinary Appeals (SCODA). For either appeal option, refer to this page and its instructions.

Please note this is a brief summary intended to communicate some of the main aspects of the AI policy and procedures at SFU. It is not an exhaustive description of all the policy and procedures. Also note that this summary does not discuss situations of student misconduct – e.g., physical threats, damaging university property, sexual harassment, etc. There is a separate Office of Student Support, Rights & Responsibilities resource for these situations.

MORE @ SFU’s Academic Integrity website, including an FAQ for faculty and a related FAQ from the Ombudsperson office for students,


Student Conduct

SFU has policies around good student conduct, which can be viewed here. While encountering inappropriate student conduct is rare and sometimes difficult to determine, there are professional resources at SFU to help. Such cases can range from property theft to threatening or harmful behavior. Click on this link for additional information here.


Suggested Wording on Academic Policy for Syllabi

Academic honesty is essential for maintaining a high standard of academic excellence and integrity. There are many different forms of academic dishonesty. These include plagiarism such as inadequately citing the source of short phrases or ideas of an author in written work submitted for a grade and submitting or presenting another’s work as one’s own, among others. Students should read SFU's policy S10.01 on Code of Academic Integrity and Good Conduct at: which outlines all prohibited acts of academic dishonesty.

Please note: Students should also read SFU’s new policy on Principles and Procedures for Student Discipline at: which outlines the range of actions that may be taken in response to an instance of academic dishonesty. According to this policy, “If an Instructor finds that a student has engaged in academic dishonesty, the Instructor may, after consulting with the departmental Academic Integrity Advisor or Chair, impose one or more of the following penalties: i. give the student a warning; ii. require the student to redo the work, or to do supplementary work; iii. assign a low grade for the work; iv. assign a grade of “F” for the work.” The Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) adheres to SFU policies on academic dishonesty. In this course, for small, unintended (in my assessment) infractions, I will provide one (1) warning with an opportunity to redo the work. Further infractions, even minor ones – or serious first instances of academic dishonesty, will result in an automatic grade of 0 on that work with no option for makeup; any additional academic dishonesty infraction in the course may then result in a failing grade for the course. For a serious instance or repeated instances of academic dishonesty, I will complete an Academic Dishonesty Report, which includes discussing the matter, determining a penalty, and possible additional disciplinary action.”


Teaching Strategies to Avoid Plagiarism

Make sure your students understand what plagiarism is by giving them examples or asking them to provide examples.

Discuss the moral and ethical issues related to plagiarism, present it in emotional tones, and include the issue of trust between students and instructors.

Stress the importance of academic integrity. Include in the discussion how bodies of knowledge are created by scholars who build on each other’s work within a discipline.

One idea is having the students write, early in the semester, a one-page response to a given topic – in class. This allows you to become familiar with each student’s writing ability. Then save these assignments as examples which you can use to monitor individual students’ progress and to use as a comparison if plagiarism is suspected.

Part of your required work for the class could include the creation of a works cited list.

Ask students to justify sources used in reports or papers. This exercise requires the student to analyze the resource in the context of the research question and topic. It also involves decision-making skills.

Asking students to turn in photocopies of sources also ensures that they have found the resources themselves.

Insist on using the library.