What does Ryerson do to prevent academic dishonesty?
Many measures are in place at the University to curb academic dishonesty:
- Many department handouts and course outlines make reference to cheating or plagiarism. Faculty can often tell that an essay has been plagiarized, even if they are unsure of the exact source of pirated passages. Many faculty at Ryerson use electronic plagiarism detection methods, such as Turnitin.com, to determine whether or not a piece of written work is original and/or whether it has been properly referenced;
How will I know if someone suspects I've cheated?
If a faculty member suspects academic dishonesty they have a responsibility to investigate.You must be notified of the suspicion of academic misconduct as soon as possible in a confidential manner. Your official Ryerson email account is used most often, but occasionally a professor may speak to you after class in a confidential setting.
What is a "facilitated discussion"?
If an instructor suspects academic misconduct you will be asked to attend a meeting with either:
(a) the professor alone (this is called a Non-Facilitated Discussion);
(b) the professor and a mutually agreed upon third party;
(c) the professor and the Academic Integrity Officer (AIO) - this is called a Facilitated Discussion and can be requested by either you or your professor.
You may consult with the RSU Student Advocate, the Ombudsperson Office, the Academic Integrity Office or your Program Director/Chair prior to attending the meeting.
The meeting should normally be held within five (5) working days of receiving notice of the suspicion of academic misconduct. If you are unable to attend the meeting, you must promptly notify the instructor or the AIO so another meeting can be scheduled. Otherwise, the instructor will make a decision about whether or not to charge you with Academic Misconduct without the benefit of your input.
During this initial meeting, the instructor must explain why she/he has a suspicion of academic misconduct and provide you with evidence to demonstrate these suspicions. He/she may make comments which you find upsetting or hurtful because of the nature of the discussion.The discussion should be respectful and civil. It is important to listen carefully to the professor's point of view and note any errors or misunderstandings you believe have occurred. Writing down a few notes might help to keep you focused, and less stressed.
You should then be given the opportunity to explain yourself and present any notes or documents that clarify your understanding of what happened. You may be asked to submit rough notes and earlier drafts for the work in question or to write an account of an event. If you realize that there is a document or additional information which would be relevant to the discussion let the professor and/or AIO know immediately, so that you can make arrangements to get this to the professor before he/she makes a decision.
During this meeting a summary of your and your professor's explanations will be recorded in a Summary of Discussion document. If you do not agree with the content of the summary, you should note your disagreement on the back of the Summary of Discussion, and provide what you believe is an accurate description of what was stated at the meeting.
During a Facilitated Discussion, you and the professor may come to an agreement about the charge of academic misconduct and what the appropriate penalty is. If you later change your mind about this you have five (5) days after the meeting to contact the AIO and rescind admission of misconduct and/or acceptance of a penalty greater than the minimum. If you do not do this you will not be allowed to file an appeal.
If you and the professor do NOT come to an agreement your instructor can decide to charge you with academic misconduct and assign a penalty; you will receive a Decision Letter informing you of this. You can choose to appeal this decision within ten (10) working days of receiving the Decision Letter.
If you have met with the professor alone or with a mutually agreed upon third party, the professor has five (5) days to come to a decision and to recommend a penalty. You will receive the professor's decision in writing and may, if you choose, appeal it within ten(10) working days.
If an instructor concludes that you are guilty of academic misconduct your Program Director/Chair and the Registrar will also be notified.
What if I didn't know what I did was wrong?
Some cheating, plagiarism or other academic misconduct happens due to student ignorance of rules and obligations, however it is your responsibility to know the rules. This being said, if your act of academic misconduct was as a result of a genuine error this may be taken into account in deciding on the level of penalty that will be imposed. Note that the Academic Integrity Office website has lots of information about academic misconduct and how to ensure you maintain academic integrity.
What should I do if an instructor charges me with academic misconduct and I want to appeal?
Under the Student Code of Academic Conduct you have the right to appeal a charge of academic misconduct and/or the recommended penalty if you believe them to be incorrect and/or unfair. The burden of proof is on the University.
You have ten (10) working days from the date of receiving a decision letter from your instructor to appeal to the Academic Integrity Council. The Academic Integrity Appeal Form is used for the first level of appeal and the Senate Appeals Committee Academic Misconduct Appeals Form is used for the second level of appeal.
If you have to attend an automatic Academic Integrity Council hearing (as a result of a recommendation of Disciplinary Suspension, Withdrawal or Expulsion from the University), the appropriate form would be the Academic Integrity Council Automatic Appeal form.
If you have to attend an automatic Academic Integrity Senate Appeals hearing (as a result of a recommendation of Disciplinary Withdrawal or Expulsion from the University), the appropriate form would be the Senate Appeals Committee Automatic Hearing form.
In all of the above cases, once you have submitted the appropriate form and relevant documents you will be invited to present your case at a hearing in front of a panel of Academic Integrity Council members.
Good reasons for considering an appeal:
- you are not guilty;
- the penalty seems too severe for the action involved;
- there is relevant information which the decision-maker does not have;
- you will regret it later if you do not appeal now.
Poor reasons for considering an appeal:
- you disagree with the relevant university policy;
- you know other students who did what you did and who weren't caught;
- friends or family members think you should appeal;
- although you did what is claimed, you're not really "that kind of person".
Reasons you may not want to appeal:
- you did what is claimed (i.e. you are guilty);
- the penalty seems fair or reasonable;
- you want to put the matter behind you;
- the evidence against you is reasonably persuasive.
What are the possible penalties for academic misconduct?
Various factors may influence decision makers when determining penalties for academic dishonesty or other offences including the following:
Was the offence planned or the result of an impulse or ignorance?
Has the student been honest and cooperative during the investigative process?
Is this a first offence? Has the student been found guilty of a similar offence previously?
Were other students compromised? Was the University compromised?
If you are charged with academic misconduct the minimum penalty that can be assigned is a grade of zero (0) on the assignment, exam or other work and a "DN" (Disciplinary Notice) on your academic record and official transcript. The instructor may also require that you participate in an Academic Integrity seminar.
For a second offence, you would normally receive, at minimum, a Disciplinary Suspension (DS). This would require you to sit out for a period of anywhere from one semester to two years, after which time you will be automatically reinstated in your program. Disciplinary Withdrawal (DW) or Expulsion are more severe penalties which prevent you from continuing on in your program (former), or, the University as a whole (latter). Other consequences are defined in the policy and include revocation of certificates, diplomas and degrees and the notification of other authorities.
Will a DN, DS or DW stay on my transcript permanently?
A DN or a DS will be removed from your file when you graduate. If you do not graduate, the DN or DS will be removed after eight (8) years for undergraduates, four (4) years for graduates and fourteen (14) years for part-time undergraduates.
Additionally, students who receive a DN in the first half of their program may be eligible to request that the DN be removed prior to graduation. You can make this request by writing the Director/chair of your program If you transfer to and graduate from another university, you may write to the Registrar's Office to request that the notation be removed.
A DW or Expulsion designation remain permanently on your record.
What if I suspect or know that someone is cheating or committing other academic misconduct?
Anyone who suspects someone else of committing an offence has several choices:
- talk about your suspicions with the other person;
- report your suspicions to the relevant Instructor or Chair/Program Director;
- remain uninvolved .
Before deciding to remain uninvolved, consider who will benefit from your lack of action. If you feel an obligation to try to make your university a fairer and more honest place, try to find a way to get involved.
If you decide to talk to someone you suspect of academic dishonesty or some other offence, make sure you are familiar with the relevant policy. Then consider the evidence you have that a violation has taken or will take place. Be clear about your own motives and goals. Try putting yourself in the position of the other person: if you were about to make the mistake of submitting a plagiarized piece of work, would you rather your buddy called you on it and stopped you - or would you prefer to be caught by the prof and failed in the course?
Reporting a suspicion:
There are two ways to make such a report:
(1) By giving the Instructor, Chair or Dean a tip. When you give a tip, you need not disclose your identity. You are merely advising that you suspect a violation took place (or will probably take place). It is up to the Instructor, Chair or Dean to either prevent the offence or to investigate and gather the evidence needed to charge the offenders. You do not have to become a witness. A tip can be written, phoned or given in person.
Sometimes a tip will not be useful because the Instructor is unable to find any evidence in support of the claims made. From the university's point of view it is always preferable to have a witness willing to state what they have seen or heard.
(2) By giving evidence. If you can act as a witness and if charges are laid against those under suspicion, you will be called to a formal hearing. The evidence presented at this hearing will be tested against a "balance of probabilities." This means the committee will weigh the evidence presented according to the test of what a reasonable, impartial person would find probably happened.
How do I avoid cheating and plagiarism?
Tell the truth.
Read forms carefully. Ask if you are not sure of something, such as whether to mention your incomplete year of study at another institution.
Respect the rules, including the specific rules for a given course, lab, project, test or assignment.
Disclose all the relevant details of your situation when asking advice, and ask before doing anything you are unsure about.
Consider the possible consequences of your actions. Could someone be hurt or inconvenienced? What harm or damage might result? Are you prepared to pay the cost?
...In tests and exams
Bring your Ryerson Photo ID to all exams but don't take any notes, books or other items into a test or exam except those expressly authorized.
Arrive on time and do not sit near friends.
Do not gaze around the room when writing a test or exam and try to shield your answer sheet so that others cannot see it.
Do not communicate with any other student during a test or exam: communicate only with the instructor or proctor.
Hand in all papers required.
If you hear of anyone obtaining information about a test or exam in advance, tell the instructor.
If exam procedures seem inadequate to you, let the instructor know what your concerns are. Report any unusual or suspicious behaviour to the exam proctor or instructor.
...In essays, reports and other assignments
Do not submit the same work on more than one occasion in two or more courses course without prior written permission from each professor involved.
Only work with other students and/or collaborate with others on assignments if you are permitted to do so.
- Only cite sources in your bibliography that you have used for the assignment in question. Remember to use "quotes" if you are using someone else's exact words - a footnote alone is not enough.
- Do not lend your work to other students unless you feel certain they will use it honestly. If someone else uses your work improperly, you may be found guilty of academic misconduct as well.
- Keep copies of all assignments, essays, and reports you hand in to be graded. Keep rough copies and notes until your final grade is received. Notes and rough copies can help to demonstrate that your work is your own.
- When in doubt about any practice, ask your instructor or your department for clarification.
- When material you read impresses you, be particularly careful. If you use your own words, acknowledge these sources of information, ideas and inspiration by citing them. Use quotation marks and cite sources whenever you use the direct words of another, even phrases only one or two words in length.
Our thanks to Frances Bauer and Anita Pouliot in the Ombuds Office at the University of Western Ontario for permission to use their guide entitled "Cheating, Plagiarism and Other Scholastic Offences".