Frequently Asked Questions - For Chairs
Under the policy the instructor’s role is to investigate and send a copy of a report to you if they conclude that academic dishonesty has occurred. The report should summarize the relevant facts and evidence, including the student’s version of events (if given). The report should additionally state whether the instructor considers the offence to be minor (with a recommended grade) or major, the reasons for that conclusion, and set out any extraordinary circumstances that are evident in the case. Copies of all supporting documentation should be attached.
The instructor should have communicated to the student: that the report was prepared and that the student could pick up a copy of the report from the department office (if the full report was not sent electronically); and that the student has the opportunity to send you written comments in response to the report. That notice to the student should also have been copied to email@example.com in order for the dean to ensure that a block is put on the student’s registration in the course.
The usual deadline for written comments is seven days from the date of the report but if the student was not notified, or inadequately notified, you will need to extend the deadline appropriately.
Before you consider a report where no responding comments have been sent to you, you should be assured that a reasonable effort was made to notify the student of the charge and that the student has been given the opportunity to respond. If you are so satisfied you can proceed to consider the report alone.
The policy states that if after a careful review of the documentation you are not satisfied that academic dishonesty occurred* you will inform the instructor and student in writing of your decision and no further action will be taken unless new evidence is brought to your attention. Be sure to copy this notice to firstname.lastname@example.org so that the dean can remove the block on the student’s registration in the course.
*The standard employed in academic dishonesty cases is more likely than not or the balance of probabilities. The case must be demonstrated against the student.
Whether you are the decision-maker depends on whether there is already an offence on record for the student. If after a review of the documentation it appears that academic dishonesty occurred, you will need to contact email@example.com to check for previous offences. If the dean confirms that at least one offence is already on file, you are relieved of decision-making and will forward the documentation confidentially to the dean and notify the student of same. If the offence is a first offence, you will proceed in the decision-making process.
Assuming you are the decision-maker, you should carefully review the report, supporting documentation, and responding comments in the context of the provisions of the policy, particularly the applicable definitions in Part I (e.g., plagiarism, cheating). Note that you are not obliged to meet with the student (though you are not prohibited from doing so).
Further to the definitions set out in the policy, does the evidence show, more likely than not, that academic dishonesty occurred?
If the answer is no you must inform the student (and the dean). See above, “What if I conclude that no academic dishonesty occurred?”
If the answer is yes, you need to turn to the issue of penalty (review carefully Part II). The policy sets out usual penalties. The first step is to decide whether the offence is minor or major (see factors below). The instructor will have indicated their view, which you will take into account, but it is your decision.
The ought reasonably to have known provision means that a student who credibly claims ignorance about plagiarism may still be guilty of an offence. The standard recognizes the responsibility of students to educate themselves about plagiarism as well as the University’s responsibility to educate students. The better the job done by instructors and the University in that education, the higher the standard. If a student has ignored communications about plagiarism and put on blinders in proceeding to complete an assignment, the student may be found guilty of an offence under the ought reasonably to have known provision.
The policy states that in deciding whether an offence is minor or major, consideration will be given to the following factors:
- the extent of the dishonesty
- whether the act in question was deliberate or whether the student ought reasonably to have known
- the importance of the work in question as a component of the course or program
- the academic experience of the student
- any other relevant circumstances
Yes. The policy states that the chair/director does not have authority to levy a penalty exceeding a final course grade of zero with the transcript notation Academic Dishonesty. If you feel that a stronger penalty is appropriate, you can forward the case to the dean for a decision. You must set out the reasons for your conclusion that a stronger penalty is appropriate. See 3.8 to 3.11 of the policy. You should notify the student that you have transferred the file.
Your decision is communicated by sending a copy of the Academic Dishonesty Report to the student’s Trent email account. The form communicates to the student that they have a right to appeal the decision within two weeks to the dean. Best practice is to reiterate that deadline in your email (see sample).
Yes. After the appeal to the dean the student has a final appeal to the Special Appeals Committee. The chair/director of the department usually acts as the Respondent in a Special Appeal, so if there is an appeal, the Secretary of Senate will be in touch with you. See the Special Appeals website for more information.
Be sure to copy the dean at firstname.lastname@example.org on the decision email to the student (which attached the Chair's Academic Dishonesty Report). You will receive a request from the dean if any further documentation is required. Note that you will need to retain a copy of the report in the event of an appeal. The report and other documentation may be retained in the department office confidentially, though it is not necessary to do so.
The dean will inform the RO of transcript notations after receiving your report.
Regardless of whether the successful appeal takes place at the level of the dean or the Special Appeals Committee, the dean will contact the course instructor and chair informing them of the decision and requesting a revised grade for the assignment. Subsequent change of grade information and removal of the registration block will be conveyed to the RO by the dean.
UOIT students are treated as Trent students and are subject to the same procedures and penalties. After the dean receives the Chair Report and all appeal deadlines have elapsed, the Registrar at UOIT will be informed of the offence and of the penalty that has been imposed.
All students taking courses at Trent are treated as Trent students and are subject to the same procedures and penalties. After the dean receives the Chair Report and all appeal deadlines have elapsed, the Registrar at the student’s home institution will be informed of the offence and of the penalty that has been imposed.