Student Resources

Dishonesty comes with a price. Not only does it undermine the very principles of our academic community, but it also leads to serious consequences. A frequent outcome of a first instance of cheating is course failure. The standard penalty for two acts of dishonesty is suspension from the university.

Familiarizing yourself with the academic honesty policy is the best way to avoid committing any offenses. The policy covers a great many actions and situations, and ignorance of the rules is not a valid defense. You probably knew that plagiarism and cheating are obviously offenses, but did you know that hiding library books to disadvantage other students is also a violation of the policy?

Be aware that academic dishonesty also includes acts that aren't explicitly written into the text, so be sure to always ask your professor if you think that something you are considering doing might be regarded as academically dishonest. Do not rely on your own reading or interpretation of the policy.

Definition

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 or allowing others to copy your work
  • Copying answers on exams or facilitating copying of your own exam answers
  • Any other act that represents someone else's work as your own
  • Misuse of 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
  • 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 or assignments from previous semesters or from other students and submitting them for credit
  • Copying answers from online answer keys
  • Turning in identical work on collaborative assignments
  • Giving or receiving inappropriate help or feedback on written assignments.

Academic dishonesty is not limited to those offenses listed above. The best course of action if you're not sure if what you're doing constitutes academic dishonesty is to ask first. Ask via e-mail if possible, and save a copy of the response.

What constitutes plagiarism?

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How do I cite?

Use the following tips to make sure you stay within the boundaries of academic integrity:

  • Browse through this online Research Guide for Students.
  • Click here to find out what to do if you encounter your idea in a source.
  • Be sure that you follow the citation method required for your academic discipline (MLA, APA, etc; if you don't know which to use, always ask).
  • Be sure to cite websites correctly. Because many books don't have up-to-date sections on web citations, consult the Study Guides and Strategies website for a range of acceptable citation styles across different academic disciplines.

If a professor or TA tells you specifically that you may use material verbatim from a lab manual or some other reference without citing it, make very certain that this is exactly what they want. Clarify the issue through an e-mail and save the e-mail.

When do I need to reference someone else's ideas in a paper?

Where can I find additional resources on plagiarism and how to avoid it?

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How do I avoid being accused of cheating on an exam?

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:

  • 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. Don't reach down for pencils, calculators, etc.
  • Even if the professor doesn't require it, sit far away from other students, or sit at the front of the classroom nearest the professor.

How does the Academic Honesty process work?

What should I do if I am accused of academic dishonesty?

First, remember that you cannot simply withdraw from the course nor can you declare the S/F option. Once an instructor has accused you are accused of dishonesty, you cannot withdraw or declare the S/F option unless and until such time as you are found innocent of the charges. 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.

Courses of action once a violation is suspected:

1) The “Short Form” process

If the professor requests a meeting with you to discuss the suspected violation, attend the meeting and provide as much evidence of your innocence as possible to the professor.

Be sure you understand the precise nature of the charges against you and the events or documentation that support those charges. Ask questions.

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

Consult with the Chair of the Board on Academic Honesty, who can answer your questions about policies and procedures and give you advice.

If the professor 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. This method of dealing with academic honesty violations uses the Academic Dishonesty Short Form Incident Report, or the Short Form. If you sign the Short Form, your case will be reviewed by the Chair of the BAH, who will either approve it as completed, or renegotiate the penalty with the instructor and with you in order to conform to College policy and precedent.

You are under no obligation to sign the Short 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 Students Office.) At this point the procedure is the same as that followed when an Academic Dishonesty Long Form Incident Report is submitted to the Board.

2) The “Long Form” process

Your instructor may choose to complete an Academic Dishonesty Long Form Incident Report and submit it to the Board even without meeting with you. An unresolved Short Form and all Long Forms require a Hearing before the Board, according to the following procedures:

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.

If you like, you may bring one or two community members (University of Rochester faculty, administrator, student or staff member) to the hearing for moral support. That person or persons may speak to you during the hearing, but may not speak to the Board. Neither one may be 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.

Be sure to familiarize yourself with the Academic Honesty policy, where the process is outlined.

Remember: your professor cannot punish you for suspected dishonesty (for example, by failing you for work in the class or failing you for the class itself) without going through the procedures approved by the Board. If you feel your professor is attempting to punish you for suspected dishonesty without going through approved academic honesty procedures or if he or she asks you to withdraw from the course, please contact the Chair of the Board.

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What do I need to know if I am found responsible?

If a Hearing Board finds you or any student responsible for academic dishonesty, the Convener provides a written report of the findings to the Chair of the Board, including a recommended penalty. The Chair then reviews the report to ensure that the case was handled consistently with Board procedures and precedents. The Chair may discuss the case with the Hearing Board and may request or impose a modification of the decision and the penalty. The Chair presents the report to the Dean of the College for transmitting to the student and the person who reported the case. (If the student is matriculated outside the College, the report is presented to the Dean of that student’s School for transmitting to the student and the person who reported the case.) Students may appeal the Board’s decision to their Dean. Appeals must be initiated by means of a letter written to the Dean within one week of the date of the decision letter.

The penalty (e.g., grade change, course failure, suspension) is implemented. Sanctions assigned, such as a failing grade, become part of the Registrar's official records, although no indication is made that the grade is the result of academic dishonesty. Students who are suspended are withdrawn from the University. During the period of their suspension, the Registrar affixes a letter to any transcript the student may request indicating that the student was suspended for academic disciplinary reasons, and referring the recipient of the transcript to the Dean of the student's College.

Board files on all individual cases remain in the possession of the secretary to the Board for a period of five years, after which they are destroyed.

Students should be aware that a second finding of responsibility for academic dishonesty carries very severe penalties. The standard penalty for a second offense is suspension from the University. The Board strongly urges students who have been found responsible for academic dishonesty to take even greater care in the future to avoid any behavior or study habits that may lead to another charge of suspected academic dishonesty.

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