Frequently Asked Questions

These questions and answers are intended to help you understand the issues associated with undergraduate academic integrity in your courses, your responsibilities and the expectations of your instructors.

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  • I was accused of cheating and I didn't do it. What happens now?

    Your instructor is obligated to pursue this through the Office of Undergraduate Studies. If he/she has not indicated that we've been contacted then you need to contact us. Normally, after an instructor brings a charge to our office, we contact the student to set up a meeting. Once you see the evidence, you have the choice of accepting responsibility (i.e., you did it) and accepting the consequences, or you can request a hearing and supply a rebuttal to the charges. We will walk you through the process step by step. If you request a hearing, the hearing board will determine whether the evidence is strong enough to constitute a violation of the academic integrity policy. There is no appeal to their verdict.

  • My professor accused me of cheating, and now he/she won't talk with me about it.
    Why is that?

    Once a charge is filed, it is best that you and the instructor not communicate, as that tends to raise the emotional level of the situation. We will help you through the process, and we'll help you proceed in a professional manner. Things will get resolved quicker and with fewer problems with this approach.

  • I want to use a paper I wrote last year for an assignment in a class this semester.
    That's not plagiarism since I'm using my own work, right?

    Unless you have explicit approval from your instructor that it's okay to re-use your paper, this is in fact plagiarism. Ask your instructor what the rules would be for you to use your older paper. Remember that in your new class, the idea is for you to create something based on what you're learning now. This will definitely alter the nature of the paper you create. Most instructors will allow the use of previous sources, but typically want you to do completely new work for their class. Get their permission first.

  • I always paraphrase stuff from my sources. Why am I being charged with plagiarism?

    Paraphrasing without direct citation afterward is plagiarism. It does not suffice to list the source at the end of your paper. Since you took someone else's ideas and rearranged their words, you need to give credit specifically to that source (using a footnote or other citation method approved by your instructor). Some students think that they are "writing" when all they are doing is changing words or phrases from someone else's written material. This is clear and simple plagiarism. See our Plagiarism page for a more thorough discussion of plagiarism.

  • Can I bring a lawyer to my cheating trial?

    Don't confuse your hearing with a trial - reasonable doubt does not come into play. In the hearing, your instructor will present evidence and you will present your side of the story. You can bring material witnesses (people who were involved) but not character witnesses. You can have an adviser (a faculty member, a parent, even a lawyer), but that person cannot address the hearing; they can only talk to you. So yes, you can bring a lawyer, but he/she can only be there to advise you. They cannot address the hearing or ask questions

  • Only freshmen are dumb enough to cheat, right?

    Usually more than 50 percent of the cases each semester are from freshman students. But it's not uncommon to have 10 to 20 percent of the cases be seniors found in violation each semester. Offenders aren't "dumb." Temptation to commit a violation is not related to intellect and is completely un-correlated with GPR.

  • My friend asked to see my lab report for format and stuff. It's okay to e-mail a copy, right?

    No. A large number of previous cases happened when a student thought he/she was just doing another student a favor, but then that student turned in an assignment with copied work. Even if you think you didn't intend to cheat, you actually did, by providing unauthorized information to your friend. Don't fall into this trap. It probably never occurred to you that your friend would steal your work, but it happens all too often. Just refer them to the instructor or the instructor's description of the assignment to get the "format." That way they won't be tempted to borrow your hard work.

  • For our project, my group decided to break up the work so that each of us does just one part,
    then we share it with others in the group. That seems very efficient. Is this a violation?

    Yes. Unless your instructor explicitly approved for you to divvy up the work in the group, this is a violation. If you turn in an assignment with your name on it, but three quarters of the work came from others, this is inappropriate. If the instructor says the work should be individual, there is no way this would not be a violation. Remember that the actual goal is for you to demonstrate that you know all the ideas, not just a portion.

  • I got charged with plagiarism, but the paper was only a draft and didn't include my sources.
    I forgot to turn in the final copy. I'm innocent, right?

    The instructor can only grade what is turned in for the assignment. You could ask for a hearing, but it's not likely to go in your favor. Hearing boards don't believe the line "that plagiarized paper is just a draft, I forgot to turn in the real paper."

  • What are the penalties for violating the academic integrity policy?
    Does it appear on my transcript?

    If you are found in violation for your first offense, the instructor sets the penalty, up to a maximum of an F in the course. If you are found in violation for a second offense (or higher) the penalty is set by the university policy. For a second offense (or higher) the minimum is an F in the course (for graded courses) and suspension for one or more semesters, or possible dismissal. There is no designation on your transcript that an F or a suspension is from academic dishonesty.

  • My lab partner needed the graphs for our experiment, so I sent him my finished lab report.
    Now I've been accused of academic dishonesty. This isn't fair. What should I have done different?

    By providing your work to another student, you are in violation of the academic integrity policy. If the graphs were something that you both worked on, you should have made a new file that contained only the graphs, but none of your other work

  • I'm supposed to graduate this semester, and now I've been charged with academic dishonesty.
    I'll still graduate, right?

    It will depend on the penalty. If it's your first offense, and you're found to be in violation, the instructor sets the penalty. If their penalty is an F in the course you won't graduate if it's a required course. If it's your second offense (or higher), the minimum penalty is an F and a suspension, in which case you won't be graduating this semester.