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Academic Honesty

Graduate Student Resources

This is the current policy as of Fall 2015.
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This page covers the highlights of the University of Rochester's Academic Honesty Policy. If you have questions or would like more information, see the policy, contact us, or talk to your advisor and instructors. Below you will find resources for successfully practicing academic honesty. If there is anything you are unsure about, please ask. You can be found responsible for violating the policy even if you did not know or understand that you were committing academic dishonesty. Not every possible violation is listed in the policy, so always ask if you think something you are considering doing might be academically dishonest. Graduate student violations in coursework or any other area, with the exception of misconduct in research, are handled through the Board on Academic Honesty procedures described below. If you are teaching a course or serving as a teaching assistant, please see the Instructor Resources for handling academic dishonesty in that role.

Note: Graduate students who engage in academic dishonesty in the pursuit of sponsored research, normally termed “misconduct in research,” will not be subject to the College Academic Honesty Policy presided over by the Board. Such violations are in conflict with Federal statutes that bind funding agencies, and must be dealt with by departmental procedures that have been approved by the College Dean of Graduate Studies. Disciplinary actions that may accompany such procedures range from expulsion to revocation of advanced degrees.


What constitutes academic dishonesty at the University of Rochester?

Academic dishonesty can involve a wide range of offenses. Our policy lists several types of offenses, including (but not limited to):

  • Plagiarism
  • Copying papers, online answer keys, or answers on exams, or allowing others to copy your work
  • Any other act that represents someone else's work as your own
  • Hindering the use of or access to library materials, such as the removal of books from the libraries without formally checking out the items, or the intentional hiding of materials, or the refusal to return reserve readings to the library, etc.
  • Obtaining an exam prior to its administration, or using unauthorized aid during an examination
  • Altering answers on graded exams and submitting them for re-grading
  • Copying data from other students' labs or research projects or allowing others to copy your data
  • Using labs, papers or assignments from previous semesters or from other students and submitting them for credit
  • Turning in identical work on collaborative assignments
  • Giving or receiving inappropriate help or feedback on written assignments
  • Unauthorized recording, distribution or publication of lectures or other course‐related materials
  • Using another student's username or password for online logins, or permitting such use
  • Giving false information or false alibis to the Board on Academic Honesty
  • Forging signatures or falsifying information on academic or medical forms

Academic dishonesty is not limited to those offenses listed above. If you're not sure whether what you're doing constitutes academic dishonesty, ask your instructor or the Academic Honesty Liaison. Ask via e-mail if possible, and save a copy of the response.

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How do I avoid academic dishonesty?

You will have many opportunities to practice academic honesty, such as during examinations, writing reports and papers, and in collaborations and group projects. Here are some tips and resources to help.

Writing Papers
Group Projects


Even if you're not cheating on an exam, you might be accused of cheating if you act suspiciously. Avoid conflict and protect yourself by following these tips:

  • All students copy and sign this Honor Pledge on all exams: “I affirm that I will not give or receive any unauthorized help on this exam, and that all work will be my own.”
  • Start studying early. Reviewing material during the semester will help you learn.
  • Make sure the instructor has approved using old exams to prepare for the test before you look at them.
  • Don't bring a backpack or other unnecessary bags to the exam, or set them far away from you.
  • Make sure all of your bags are zipped shut and that no loose papers can be seen or slide out from under your desk.
  • Set all of your materials on your desk before the exam starts. Don't reach down for pencils, calculators, etc.
  • Even if the instructor doesn't require it, sit far away from other students, or sit at the front of the classroom near the instructor.
  • If possible, do not bring your cell phone into the exam room. If you must have it with you, turn it off and keep it in a closed backpack or other bag. You should not have it on your person in a pocket, in your hand, on your desk or otherwise visible to you.
  • Resources promoting time management and study skills are found at the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.

Writing Papers

You are responsible to understand and avoid plagiarism. When in doubt, cite your source. Write academically honest papers using these tips:

Group Projects

When you collaborate, every member is responsible for the final product. Create group projects safely with these tips:

  • Clearly define who will work on what, and ask the instructor if you are not sure about how work is being divided.
  • Start early and set deadlines before the due date so you have a chance to work together and can check others' work.
  • If you do not understand the guidelines for academically honest group projects, ask your instructor, and try to get the answer in writing.

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What happens if I'm accused of academic dishonesty?

The academic honesty process at University of Rochester sets high standards for academic honesty in all academic work. Violations by graduate students raise immediate concerns about the student’s ability to conduct original scholarship as required for graduate degrees. They also undermine the trust that a mentor, dissertation committee, or an academic department must have for a graduate student in the pursuit of new knowledge. There are serious penalties for academic dishonesty, including possible expulsion from the University.

If you are suspected of academic dishonesty, you must remain in the course and cannot declare the S/F option unless you are found innocent. So continue to fulfill all class obligations: attend all classes, complete all assignments and take all tests. A charge of academic dishonesty is not a reason to give up on a class, no matter how much the charge of dishonesty makes you feel uncomfortable. The person reporting you (often a course instructor) cannot impose a penalty without going through the procedures outlined in the Policy. If you feel your instructor is attempting to punish you for suspected dishonesty without going through approved academic honesty procedures or if s/he asks you to withdraw from the course, please contact the chair of the board. There are two possible methods of reporting: an Instructor Resolution Process, and a Board Resolution Process.

Instructor Resolution With Penalty

If the violation is minor, an instructor may choose an Instructor Resolution Process in consultation with the AS&E Dean of Graduate Studies. If the instructor requests a meeting with you to discuss the suspected violation, attend the meeting.

Be sure you understand the precise nature of the charges against you and the events or documentation that support those charges. Ask questions. If you are innocent, try to provide as much evidence of your innocence as possible to the instructor.

Read the College Academic Honesty Policy very carefully to familiarize yourself with rules and procedures.

Consult with the Academic Honesty Liaison, who can answer your questions about policies and procedures and give you advice.

If the instructor remains convinced of your academic dishonesty, you may be asked to sign an agreement admitting to your responsibility in exchange for an agreed-upon penalty. If you sign the Instructor Resolution With Penalty form, you will receive the penalty.

You are under no obligation to sign the Instructor Resolution With Penalty form. If you choose not to do so, your case will be turned over for review by the Board on Academic Honesty. (Alleged violations of the policy are dealt with by the board, not by the Dean of Graduate Students Office.) At this point the procedure is the same as that followed when a Board Resolution case is submitted to the board.

You may find this list of resources helpful when you are suspected of academic dishonesty.

Board Resolution

An instructor may choose a Board Resolution, sometimes without notifying you. This process requires a hearing before the board.

You will receive notification from the board of the allegation that has been made and your hearing date.

You should review your case file by making an appointment with the secretary to the board. You will not be permitted to photocopy or otherwise make an image of the case file, but you may take notes on the contents of the file.

Read the College Academic Honesty Policy very carefully to familiarize yourself with rules and procedures.

Consult with the Academic Honesty Liaison, who can answer your questions about policies and procedures and give you advice.

If you like, you may bring one community member (University of Rochester instructor, administrator, student or staff member) to the hearing for moral support. That person may speak to you during the hearing, but may not speak to the board. This community member must not be acting as an attorney, or an individual involved in the case.

At the hearing, be sure to refute any information presented in the file or during the hearing that you believe to be in error.

You may find this list of resources helpful when you are suspected of academic dishonesty.

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What happens after a Board Hearing?

If a student is exonerated, an exoneration letter will be written by the Presiding Officer and sent to the AS&E Dean of Graduate Studies, who will review the decision. If the Dean does not recommend the board reconsider the finding, s/he will send the decision letter to the student and reporting person. The board file for the case will be destroyed within thirty days of the date of the exoneration letter.

If a Hearing Board finds a student responsible for academic dishonesty, the Board’s finding and the sanction decided upon must be approved by the AS&E Dean of Graduate Studies. The AS&E Dean of Graduate Studies will forward the finding to the University Dean of Graduate Studies, as per the University “Judicial Process for Academic Misconduct by Graduate Students.” The University Dean of Graduate Studies will issue the final decision letter to the student and reporting person. Students may appeal the board’s decision to the University Provost. Appeals must be initiated by means of a letter written to the Provost within one week of the date of the decision letter.

The penalty is implemented. First-time minor offenses include some reduction in the course grade equal to or greater than that which is stipulated for undergraduates. First-time offenses that are considered moderate or major result in the recommendation of the XE grade and may result in expulsion from the graduate program. Second offenses at any level of severity must go to a hearing as above, and will normally result in expulsion from the graduate program following consultation with the department’s director of graduate studies and the AS&E Dean of Graduate Studies. Additional sanctions may apply at any level, such as ineligibility for stipends or teaching awards.

Board files on all individual cases remain in the possession of the secretary to the board for a period of seven years, after which they are destroyed. The reporting person (usually an instructor) is required to keep the information confidential. Students applying for awards and fellowships or employment may be asked to sign a waiver revealing whether they have been found responsible of academic dishonesty as part of the application process. No information about a student's academic honesty record will be shared without a signed waiver, unless required by law.

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