Steps for Handling Academic Dishonesty Cases - For Instructors
Below is a set of guidelines for following the procedures necessary in handling cases of academic dishonesty under the undergraduate academic integrity policy. This website provides additional guidance as well as sample email messages that can be used when communicating with students about academic integrity offences. In order to ensure that students are treated fairly, it is very important that the procedures be followed. For cases of academic dishonesty in graduate courses, please see the Graduate Academic Integrity Policy or contact the School of Graduate Studies.
For the purposes of interpreting this policy, "instructor" means the course instructor – a teaching assistant (TA) is not an instructor. In some departments where TAs have considerable responsibility for teaching parts of a course (e.g., seminars, labs), an instructor may request that the TA have an initial discussion with the student. However, it is expected that the course instructor will meet with the student, make a decision and complete the paperwork as outlined below.
If academic dishonesty is suspected, the instructor investigates and gathers supporting evidence.
Instructor sends an email to the student at the student’s trentu.ca address (recommend using sample email) requesting a meeting to discuss the matter. If the student does not reply, the instructor should make a reasonable effort to ensure that the student received the message (e.g., talk to the student after class, telephone student). The student is not required to meet with the instructor and the investigation can proceed without such a meeting. Instructors are encouraged to be sensitive to the timing of original contact with the student. Sending an email and/or requesting a meeting just before the final exam in the course is likely to cause a considerable amount of anxiety.
During the meeting, the instructor should show the student the evidence that supports the accusation (e.g., section of essay that has been plagiarized and section from the source material containing the same or highly similar wording; highly similar responses on another student’s test or essay). If the incident involves more than one student, each student should be interviewed separately.
a) If, after meeting with the student, the instructor determines that no academic dishonesty occurred, the student should be informed of that decision as soon as possible. The student should be assured that no further action will be taken unless new evidence comes to light.
b) The Academic Dishonesty Instructor Report should be completed if, after meeting with the student or if the student fails to respond to a request for a meeting, the instructor determines that an offence has been committed. The report has a section for the student’s version of events to be provided. This is for the instructor to complete; it is not expected that the student will fill this in.
c) The policy allows flexibility regarding the penalty for a minor offence. The recommended penalty is a zero grade but if the instructor believes that a less punitive penalty is appropriate, the instructor can recommend a grade higher than zero; it must be a failing grade (i.e., lower than 50%).
The instructor sends an email to the student (recommend using sample email), copied to the chair and to the dean at firstname.lastname@example.org (a block will be put on the student’s ability to drop the course). The email should indicate that a report has been completed and that the student has seven days from the date of the report to send written comments to the chair. The student must be provided a copy of the report and copies of the supporting documentation (e.g., essay marked to show plagiarized material and article or webpage marked to show original material). The Instructor Report should be attached to the email; the other documentation can either be appended as scanned documents attached to the email or as hard copies to be picked up from the department office.
Note: The instructor should assume that the penalty on the assignment is to be imposed and calculate the final grade accordingly. If the student is successful in appealing the accusation of academic dishonesty, the instructor will be contacted by the chair or the dean and asked to assess the work in question and recalculate the final grade.
Steps for Handling Academic Dishonesty Cases (download PDF)