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 regular SFU computing ID.
- You will see your courses listed. Select the course in question.
- Select “Dishonesty Cases”
- Under ACTIONS, choose either “Create Case Cluster” for group offenses or “ Create Individual Case” for a single student case of academic dishonesty
- Use the pull down menu under “Student” to select the appropriate individual(s) from the class roster
- Click “Create Case”
- Use the templates to email the student (if you have not already emailed the student directly for a meeting).
- Complete boxes and provide your version of events in “Facts of the Case”- may be a few sentences for a straightforward case; include attachments if relevant, such as a scan of an essay
- Click “Update Facts”
- Assign penalty by selecting one or more from the four options provided
- In the Penalty Rationale box, you can outline your reason for your option. For example, “The dishonesty was deliberate but not excessively severe.”
- Click “Update Penalty”
- Confirm that letter is ready to be sent to the student and filed by checking the box
- Click “Update Letter Review Status”
- After reviewing the information in the online form is complete and accurate, click “Send the Letter” to enter the final step
- Check “Letter emailed through the System” and click on the red box “Email the Student”
Watch video on filling out the CourSys form:
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.