Managing Academic Dishonesty
NOTE: This guide is not a comprehensive statement of University policies and procedures regarding academic dishonesty. The official policies are stated in the Student Code of Conduct.
An allegation of academic dishonesty is an assertion that a person has violated a rule. Investigating whether or not such an assertion is true is one role of the Office of Community Standards and Conduct. It cannot be assumed, even when the evidence is compelling, that a student has committed an act of academic dishonesty.
Each component institution of the UT System is also authorized to enact rules and regulations related to student conduct and disciplinary procedures. UT Dallas has promulgated and adopted a Student Code of Conduct statement, contained in the UT Dallas Handbook of Operating Procedures as Chapter 49. Faculty and administrators involved in the disciplinary process are expected to abide by the standards articulated in the UT Dallas Handbook of Operating Procedures.
Students who fail to conform to the established standards of conduct are subject to one or more of the disciplinary sanctions listed in the UT Dallas Handbook of Operating Procedures. The courts have held that a disciplinary sanction may not be imposed upon a student for engaging in prohibited conduct unless the student has been offered an opportunity for a hearing that conforms to certain minimal procedural due process standards. The Student Code of Conduct has been drafted to establish disciplinary hearing procedures that conform to the procedural due process requirements of the courts.
One goal of the Office of Community Standards and Conduct is to arrive at the appropriate outcome in a manner that is beyond reproach. This, of course, requires a collaborative effort between all of us at the University who place a high value on academic integrity. Adhering to official protocols guards against a shift in the focus from the substantive evidence to possible procedural errors by the University. Failure to afford a student his or her due process rights as part of the disciplinary process can result in a number of legal repercussions. It is, therefore, essential to follow established procedures even if thought to be unnecessary and burdensome.
Rights of the Student
Constitutional due process rights require that a student charged with an act of academic dishonesty has the right to know what evidence supports the charge, the right to present information on their behalf, and the right of appeal. A student may accept administrative disposition of a meritorious charge by waiving his or her right to a hearing. Under any circumstance, however, a student has the right to appeal a sanction assessed by the Office of Community Standards and Conduct or the decision of of a panel of the Discipline Committee by timely written notice to the UT Dallas President.
Student Discipline Records
Academic dishonesty records are kept separate from academic (transcript) records and are retained in the Dean of Students Office. Although classified as confidential, disciplinary records (including academic dishonesty records) may be released to persons outside the University only with the consent of the student or in response to a court order. One advantage of maintaining the records in a central location is to monitor incidents of repeated violations of scholastic regulations by the same student. Known multiple offenses generally result in more serious consequences.
Responsibility of Faculty
Academic integrity in academic exercises is a shared responsibility of both faculty and students, although faculty members are called upon to play a greater role in that process. Many students at the University, however, are increasingly concerned about academic dishonesty among their classmates and in their classes.
Investigating allegations of academic dishonesty and, if warranted, assessing a sanction is a responsibility of the Office of Community Standards and Conduct in collaboration with the faculty. An academic judgment relating to whether a student has or has not properly completed a quality academic exercise as assigned is the responsibility of the faculty.
- When there is reason to believe that an act of academic dishonesty has occurred, the faculty member should gather all pertinent evidence, such as tests, reports, computer programs and other academic assignments, and identify any possible witnesses. During an exam, the faculty member should remove any unauthorized materials and/or, if applicable, discretely ask the student to move to another desk. The student, however must be allowed to complete the exam. An allegation of dishonesty does not mean one is responsible for dishonesty.
- In instances of clear evidence of academic dishonesty, the matter should be referred directly to the Office of Community Standards and Conduct using the Academic Dishonesty Referral form.
- If the evidence of academic dishonesty is ambiguous, the faculty member certainly may confer with the student(s) involved for the purpose of clarifying the circumstances of the alleged violation. After conferring with the student, if warranted, the faculty member may refer the allegation to the Office of Community Standards and Conduct, using the Academic Dishonesty Referral form.
- To complete the Academic Dishonesty Referral form, provide relevant documents (cheat sheets, plagiarized materials, computer discs, programs, plagiarism detection program print-outs or other supporting evidence) and the course syllabus. While hand delivery is best and the preferred transmittal method (SSB 4.400), campus mail (Mail Station SSB46) is also an option.
- Upon receipt of the completed referral form, the Office of Community Standards and Conduct will conduct an investigation of the alleged infraction. The investigation will include at a minimum a review of all evidentiary documentation received and an interview with the student. The investigation period varies in duration, depending upon the responsiveness of the student and the quality of the supporting documentation received with the referral.
- During the investigation period and continuing through completion of the due process requirements, the student must be allowed to attend all classes and complete all assignments. If final grades become due prior to resolution of the charge, the letters "NR" are to be submitted on the grade report to the Registrar for the student.
- All information concerning academic dishonesty allegations and dispositions is strictly confidential and should be treated accordingly and restricted solely between the faculty member and the Office of Community Standards and Conduct. Casual conversations regarding specific academic dishonesty allegations should be avoided.
- Sanction assessment for acts of academic dishonesty remains the responsibility of the Office of Community Standards and Conduct in collaboration with the faculty. Faculty members may make additional recommendations if in their judgment there are unusual or mitigating or extenuating circumstances. Examples include:
- Retaking the examination or test or redoing the paper or project.
- No credit, or reduced credit for the paper, assignment, or exam in question.
- Failing grade for the course.
Responsibilities of the Office of Community Standards and Conduct
If, after investigation, the Office of Community Standards and Conduct has determined that the student violated the UT Dallas Student Code of Conduct, the student may choose to resolve the matter administratively by waiving his or her due process right to a hearing (Administrative Disposition), or may choose to dispute the allegation at a formal due process hearing.
The Office of Community Standards and Conduct will investigate the allegation, review the student's prior disciplinary record, consider the sanction recommended by the faculty member and assess a sanction that is appropriate to the circumstances yet consistent with sanctions for similar acts of academic dishonesty. The Office of Community Standards and Conduct will inform the student and the faculty member of the decision.
If a hearing is conducted, the Office of Community Standards and Conduct prepares for the hearing. If the accused student is represented by an attorney, then the University is represented by an attorney. The time required of the instructor or faculty member varies depending upon the details and complexity of the facts and supporting evidence. The hearing panel determines if the student violated University rules and, if so, assesses an appropriate sanction.
Whether the matter is resolved administratively or through a formal hearing, the student may appeal to the President.
Academic dishonesty includes but is not limited to cheating, plagiarism, collusion, facilitating academic dishonesty, fabrication, failure to contribute to a collaborative project and sabotage.
Proactive Strategies for Faculty
Acts of academic dishonesty may occur in lab experiments, on homework, computer programming assignments, general writing and research papers, among others. The following list contains ideas and suggestions that a faculty member might consider as tools for developing a proactive strategy to address the academic dishonesty issue.
- Enforce silence during the examination period.
- Prohibit the use of cell phones during examination times.
- Require proctors to remain in the testing room throughout the examination period.
- Use a consistent method of grading papers to which you strictly adhere. For example, use a system for marking unanswered questions so that students may not easily fill in or alter answers later and submit them for regrading.
- Require students to remove caps and hats during the testing period.
- Require students to bring blue books at the beginning of the semester; distribute them yourself at test time.
- Forbid textbooks in the testing room.
- Separate students or assign seats.
- Distribute different test forms. Informing students of this practice is optional.
- Check photo identification against the photo roster and the person sitting for an exam.
- Modify homework, exams and essay topics each semester.
- Check desks and the surrounding area for unauthorized materials.
- Require students to sign tests and verify the signatures.
- Photocopy completed exams (or a sample of them) for comparison in regrade requests and inform students of this practice.
- Do not post answers to an exam prior to its completion.
- Clear your web archives of solutions and answers to assignments periodically.
- Establish a restroom policy for exam periods, and inform your students of that policy.
- Use the plagiarism detection program subscribed to by the University.
We recommend that faculty members include a statement about academic dishonesty in their syllabi and identify a writing style.