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Suspected of Academic Dishonesty

If you are suspected of academic dishonesty, you should read this page and the Arts, Sciences, and Engineering Academic Honesty Policy carefully. You should also note that there are important differences in the policy depending on whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student. 

If you are an international student on a University-sponsored visa, you should also read the international student page as some academic honesty penalties can impact your visa status.

You can also reach out to the academic honesty liaison with any questions or concerns.

Academic Honesty at Rochester

The academic honesty process at the University of Rochester sets high standards for honesty and integrity in all academic work. There are serious penalties for dishonesty based on the damage it causes to the academic community.

For undergraduates, the policy focuses on you taking responsibility for your actions and learning from your mistakes through increasing penalties, since undergraduate students are still becoming proficient in the standards of academic honesty.

For graduate students, the penalties are more severe because policy violations raise immediate concerns about your ability to conduct the kind of original scholarship required to obtain your graduate degree.

Read on for more information about how academic dishonesty is handled here at Rochester:


Key Facts

Responsibility

The academic honesty policy does not take intent or misunderstanding into account. If you didn’t mean to violate the policy or didn’t know you were violating the policy, it does not matter. The process and penalties would be the same as they are for someone who purposely broke the rules and knowingly engaged in dishonest behavior.

The academic honesty policy applies to all work submitted to an instructor. It does not matter if it is a draft, ungraded, a proposal, etc. The policy is in effect whether or not an instructor administers an honor pledge.

The list of violations in the policy is not comprehensive. It gives the most common examples, but other violations are possible. Instructors can also set additional course-specific rules.

Once suspected of academic dishonesty, you cannot drop, withdraw from, or S/F the course, even if you declared the S/F prior to the policy violation. If you drop, withdraw from, or S/F the course, you will be automatically reinstated. There are two exceptions to this:

  • You are found not responsible
  • You are an undergraduate and you have signed an Instructor Resolution Warning Letter that has also been approved by the chair of the Board on Academic Honesty.

Remember—you can receive an increased sanction if you lie to the Board on Academic Honesty, ask others to lie to the board on your behalf, or take other steps to impede a board investigation.

Instructors

Instructors are required to report all suspected cases of academic dishonesty. Once a case has been submitted, instructors cannot retract, take back, or un-submit it

Instructors must follow the academic honesty policy. They cannot add their own separate punishments for academic dishonesty. They also cannot punish you for refusing to sign an academic honesty form; the only consequence for refusing to sign a form is that your case will proceed to a board resolution and hearing.

Instructors must give you 48 hours to consider whether to sign a form, and you can ask for more time if you have a valid reason.

Instructors cannot apply certain sanctions that are reserved for the board resolution process. These sanctions are: XE/XF grades, suspension, expulsion, and academic disciplinary probation.

Instructors are bound by confidentiality. They are not allowed to tell anyone other than academic honesty staff (e.g., the liaison) and board members when they suspect you of academic dishonesty.

Jurisdiction

All second and subsequent cases are decided by the board resolution process, even if the first case was a warning letter.

Your academic honesty case will be decided by the academic honesty system of your primary campus, even if it occurs in a course in a different University division.

Graduate students who engage in academic dishonesty in the pursuit of sponsored research, normally termed “misconduct in research,” are not judged by the Arts, Sciences, and Engineering (AS&E) Academic Honesty Policy. Since this misconduct violates federal statutes that bind funding agencies, they are decided through departmental procedures established by the AS&E dean of graduate studies. Disciplinary actions range from expulsion to revocation of advanced degrees.

Confidentiality

Your academic honesty record will be kept confidential except when you sign a waiver releasing that information, unless required by law.

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Course Obligations

If you are suspected of academic dishonesty, you must remain in the course and cannot declare the satisfactory/fail (S/F) option unless you are found not responsible (see below for undergraduate warning letter exception).

During this time, you should continue to fulfill all course obligations:

  • Attend all classes
  • Complete all assignments
  • Take all tests

Remember—A charge of academic dishonesty is not a reason to give up on a course, no matter how much that charge makes you feel uncomfortable. 

There are three possible methods of reporting:

The person reporting you (often a course instructor) cannot impose a penalty without going through the procedures outlined in the policy.

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 your instructor asks you to withdraw from the course, contact the chair of the board or submit an academic honesty concern report.

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Instructor Resolution Warning Letter

If your instructor and the chair of the Board on Academic Honesty agree that the suspected academic dishonesty is minor and resulting from inexperience, your instructor may use the warning letter process.

First, the instructor will request a meeting with you to discuss the suspected improper academic work. Before the meeting you should:

  • Find out what about your work the instructor believes was done improperly
  • Read the Academic Honesty Policy
  • Ask questions (your instructor and academic honesty liaison are great resources)
  • Gather any evidence that no academic honesty violation occurred

During the meeting you and your instructor will review your work, as well as any evidence you have that there was no academic honesty violation.

If the instructor remains convinced of your academic dishonesty, you may be asked to sign a Warning Letter Form admitting to your responsibility in exchange for an agreed-upon penalty. 

You always have the option of taking 48 hours to consider what to do, and you can request more time to consider if you have a valid reason.

If you sign the warning letter, your case will be reviewed by the chair of the Board on Academic Honesty, who will either approve it as completed or renegotiate the penalty with the instructor and with you to better meet policy guidelines.

The warning letter penalty typically consists of discounting the dishonest portion of the work in question, assigning a grade to the remaining portion, and requiring the student to redo the dishonest portion of the work (or another similar assignment) correctly for no credit.

You are under no obligation to sign the warning letter. If you don’t sign, your case will be become a board resolution case. If the chair renegotiates your warning letter, you can withdraw your signature and your case will be converted to a board resolution case.

Following a warning letter, you will complete an educational intervention such as an assigned academic honesty tutorial. Some educational interventions cost money.

If a warning letter is the only entry in your academic honesty record, the board will report that you do not have an academic honesty record if someone checks your record with a signed waiver from you. However, your warning letter will count as a first case if you have another violation later.

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Instructor Resolution with Penalty

An instructor can choose an instructor resolution with penalty process. For graduate students, this process can only be used in minor cases and the instructor must consult with the AS&E dean of graduate studies.

First, the instructor will request a meeting with you to discuss the suspected improper academic work. Before the meeting you should:

  • Find out what about your work the instructor believes was done improperly
  • Read the Academic Honesty Policy
  • Ask questions (your instructor and academic honesty liaison are great resources)
  • Gather any evidence that no academic honesty violation occurred

During the meeting you and your instructor will review your work, as well as any evidence you have that there was no academic honesty violation.

If the instructor remains convinced of your academic dishonesty, you may be asked to sign an Instructor Resolution with Penalty Form admitting to your responsibility in exchange for an agreed-upon penalty. You always have the option of taking 48 hours to consider what to do, and you can request more time if you have a valid reason.

You are under no obligation to sign the Instructor Resolution with Penalty Form. If you choose not to do so, your case will become a board resolution case

If you are an undergraduate and sign the Instructor Resolution with Penalty Form, your case will be reviewed by the chair of the Board on Academic Honesty, who will either approve it as completed or renegotiate the penalty with the instructor. If the chair renegotiates your form, you can withdraw your signature and your case will be converted to a board resolution case.

Following an instructor resolution with penalty process, you will complete an educational intervention, such as an assigned academic honesty tutorial. Some educational interventions cost money.

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Board Resolution

An instructor may choose a board resolution, sometimes without notifying you. This process requires a hearing before the board. All second and subsequent cases are resolved through the board resolution process.

You will be notified by the board when an allegation has been made and when a hearing date has been scheduled.

You should review your case file by making an appointment with the secretary to the board. You can bring someone with you, and you can take notes on the contents of the file. However, neither you nor your additional person is permitted to photograph, photocopy, or otherwise reproduce the case file.

You can add materials and statements to the case file by submitting them to the secretary to the board.

Before the meeting you should:

  • Find out what about your work the instructor believes was done improperly
  • Read the Academic Honesty Policy
  • Ask questions (your instructor and academic honesty liaison are great resources)
  • Gather any evidence that no academic honesty violation occurred

If you like, you can 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 is not allowed to speak to the board. This community member should not be acting as an attorney.

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

The hearing board will decide whether or not your work was academically dishonest and if it was, will determine a penalty. The board’s findings will be reviewed for approval or reconsideration either by the chair of the Board on Academic Honesty (undergraduates) or the AS&E dean of graduate studies (graduate students). 

Once finalized, you and the reporting person will be notified by letter and email of the outcome and any penalties (if applicable). If you are found responsible, departments may apply additional penalties, such as ineligibility for supplemental stipends or teaching awards.

Following a board resolution process, you will complete an educational intervention like an assigned academic honesty tutorial. Some educational interventions cost money; you will be notified by the board if there are costs and if you are responsible for covering some or all of these costs.

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Appeals

If you disagree with an Instructor Resolution Warning Letter or an Instructor Resolution with Penalty Form proposed by your instructor, you can decline to sign the form and you will start the board resolution process

If you disagree with an instructor resolution form of either kind renegotiated by the chair of the Board on Academic Honesty, you can likewise withdraw your signature from the form and you will start the board resolution process.

If you disagree with a board resolution outcome, you can appeal the decision within seven days of the date of the decision letter. You must meet one or more of these criteria for an appeal:

  • Procedural error large enough to alter the decision
  • Excessive or inappropriate sanction
  • New information not available at the time of the hearing that would alter the decision

You file your appeal by writing a letter or email to either the dean of the College (undergraduates) or the provost of the University (graduate students). In certain cases, the dean or provost may refer the case back to the hearing board for an additional hearing with you.

The decision of the dean or provost is final.

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