You and your tutor: Knowing the boundaries
Academic honesty is central to maintaining high standards of academic excellence and integrity at Simon Fraser University. Some students find tutors helpful in explaining course work and providing assistance with writing, studying techniques, and other learning strategies, but this assistance must be appropriate and consistent with SFU’s policy on Academic Honesty (see below). To comply with SFU’s policy, the work you submit must be your own. It is dishonest to represent as your own, work done in whole or in part by another person.
SFU offers a variety of writing, learning and other academic assistance on campus, but you need to plan ahead to take full advantage of it. There are a number of places you can go for this assistance, including the Student Learning Commons (SLC), where writing and learning specialists and peer educators understand the boundaries between appropriate assistant and academically dishonest help. If you need help that isn’t offered by the SLC, they will direct you to other campus support services. The most important thing is to seek help early enough so that you are not feeling desperate and tempted to make poor choices.
If you choose to seek off-campus help (e.g. hiring a private tutor), it is your responsibility to know what comprises appropriate help and what is deemed academically dishonest. So how do you ensure you are getting appropriate assistance, consistent with SFU’s Academic Honesty Policy?
Appropriate assistance is feedback and advice that help you to learn course material, writing skills, and learning strategies. The goal is for you to raise your own academic skills to such a level that you will not require further help from a tutor: in other words, the tutor should be working him or herself out of a job. You and your tutor should share the goal of you becoming a better student, not simply getting a better mark on the assignment or in the course.
It is never appropriate to hire a tutor to write your essay or lab report, prepare a detailed outline, or rewrite your work and hand you a finished product. Your tutor must not edit or craft your assignments. Instead, your tutor should teach you skills such as how to plan your paper, how to use sources appropriately to avoid plagiarism, and how to understand and apply the rules of grammar so that you can learn to identify errors in your own writing.
Writing and other academic skills are learned. They are developed through practice and learned more quickly when you get feedback. There are many people who can provide assistance but you must be careful to seek and accept appropriate help.
SFU policies and guidance
See www.lib.sfu.ca/help/tutorials/plagiarism-tutorial for help on recognizing plagiarism.