Academic Misconduct

Academic misconduct

Academic misconduct is defined as any activity that tends to compromise the academic integrity of the College/University or subverts the educational process.  Academic misconduct includes but is not limited to:

  • cheating: copying the work of another student, receiving unauthorized assistance during an exam, submitting an assignment from one course for another course or other similar acts;
  • plagiarism: the act of appropriating and using the ideas, writings, or work of another person as one's own without giving credit to the person who created the work;
  • fabricating information: submitting falsified information as if it were genuine, providing false excuses as a means of gaining extensions or special circumstances for assignments;
  • intentionally damaging the coursework of others; and;
  • assisting others in acts of academic misconduct (e.g. giving exam questions or course materials to other students or agencies without the consent or knowledge of the instructor).

Academic misconduct vs. poor scholarship

Poor scholarship consists of an inadequate understanding of scholarly conventions of source citation or an inability to implement those conventions properly in documenting the sources used in one's work.  Academic misconduct, particularly plagiarism, is characterized by intent to deceive, by gross verbatim use or limited alteration of another's work accompanied by explicit or implicit claims that the work is the student's own, and by a general disregard of institutional policies regarding academic honesty and misconduct.

Occasionally what initially appears to be an act of academic misconduct may turn out to be a case of poor scholarship on the part of a student, particularly in suspected cases of plagiarism.  Insufficient citation of sources, inappropriate paraphrasing of sources, and wholesale reproduction of unacknowledged sentences and paragraphs, while serious offenses in the scholarly world, are among students often enough caused by a lack of understanding.  In such circumstances instructors are advised to keep in mind that students at CSB/SJU are in a position of apprenticeship:  they are learning the skills of scholarship under the tutelage of their instructors.

Acts of plagiarism that result from poor scholarship should be dealt with in a spirit of apprenticeship and treated as an opportunity for teaching rather than as an infraction that warrants censure.  An appropriate penalty, therefore, is the same as for any other situation in which students fail to achieve the goals of a course:  a reduced grade for the assignment in question and further instruction to remedy the deficiencies demonstrated by the student. 

First year seminar (FYS) courses are the essential milieu for the presentation and discussion of academic misconduct and plagiarism. While FYS provides an essential first opportunity for discussion of academic misconduct, it should not be the only forum for discussion and learning.  Ethics seminars and discipline-specific courses provide a better setting to introduce students to the discipline-specific principles and practices of academic honesty. 

Cases of academic misconduct

It may be difficult to delineate intent, extent or motive in cases of academic misconduct.  Because of the potential seriousness of these cases, which can potentially result in expulsion, it is important for instructors and students to consider the following:

  1. Has the student received instruction in the Institutions' academic misconduct policy and how academic misconduct, plagiarism and poor scholarship can be avoided?
  2. In the judgment of the instructor, was there intent to deceive?
  3. Does the incident in question represent a pattern of misconduct?
  4. In the judgment of the instructor, was the incident sufficiently egregious to warrant penalty?

 The burden of proof rests with the instructor to demonstrate that one or more students have engaged in academic misconduct.  If an instructor suspects academic misconduct, he or she must present compelling evidence of this misconduct.

I. General Procedure

A. An instructor suspecting a student of academic misconduct must meet with the student and present evidence of the specific offense  
B. If the student agrees that the alleged act of academic misconduct has occurred, a penalty is determined and a written acknowledgment specifying the offense and the penalty is signed by the instructor, the student and a third party witness to guarantee that the student has been shown the agreement and read it (Link to Report of Academic Misconduct). The evidence of academic misconduct and the written acknowledgments are then placed in a closed file in the office of the Academic Dean.
C. If in spite of the evidence presented by the instructor the student maintains his or her innocence, the student may contact the Assistant Dean/Director of Academic Advising and request that an appeals process be initiated (see Appeals Process below).  In such contested cases it is the responsibility of the student to provide detailed information demonstrating that the assignment in question is the product of his or her own work, or evidence refuting the allegations presented.
D. By refusing to view the evidence, or by refusing to acknowledge having viewed it, a student will not prevent imposition of the instructor's recommended penalty nor prevent the case from going into the closed file. 
E. The penalty determined by the instructor (or by the Academic Dean in cases of a second or third offense) will stand unless and until the student is found innocent on appeal. If the student is found innocent on appeal the material will be removed from the closed file and destroyed.
F. A student accused of academic misconduct who maintains his/her innocence has the right to remain enrolled in the course while the appeal process is pending.
G. The closed file located in the Academic Dean's office will be destroyed two years after a student has graduated.  In the cases of students who transfer to other institutions, or who for other reasons leave the College of St. Benedict or St. John's University without graduating, the closed file will be destroyed five years after the student's departure.
H. The proof of guilt in an earlier offense does not imply any assumption of guilt when a student is accused in a future case.

II. Consequences

Penalties for academic misconduct vary according to whether the case involves a first or a repeat offense, and according to the character of the offense itself. If the evidence of academic misconduct comes to light only after course grades have been turned in, the instructor may change the course grade retroactively.

 First Offense

A. The penalty for a first offense of academic misconduct is failure of the course in which the academic misconduct occurred. This penalty may be reduced at the instructor's discretion.
B. The process of written acknowledgement and closed file described in section I will be implemented.
C. If a student commits two acts of academic misconduct nearly simultaneously it is at the academic dean's discretion whether they are regarded as one or two offenses

Second Offense

A. The instructor should follow the general procedure indicated above.  Following this, the Academic Dean will be aware that this is not the student's first instance of academic misconduct, and because of the increased gravity of the situation, will consult with the instructor and other parties deemed necessary to learn as much as possible about this instance of misconduct. The student will fail the course in which the academic misconduct occurred.
B. The student may be suspended or expelled from the college. This decision will be made by the Academic Dean.
C. The process of written acknowledgment and closed file described in Section I will be implemented.
D. If a student commits two acts of academic misconduct nearly simultaneously it is at the Academic Dean's discretion whether they are regarded as one or two offenses.

Third Offense

A. The instructor should follow the general procedure indicated above.  Following this, the Academic Dean will be aware that this is not the student's first instance of academic misconduct, and because of the increased gravity of the situation, will consult with the instructor and other parties deemed necessary to learn as much as possible about this instance of misconduct. The student will fail the class in which the academic misconduct occurred.
B. The student will be expelled from the college.
C. The steps of written acknowledgement and closed file described in Section I will be implemented 

Appeals Process

A. The appeal process for academic misconduct is initiated by a student through a formal request made to the Assistant Dean/Director of Academic Advising.
B. The student is given an opportunity to provide detailed information related to the academic misconduct and disputing the evidence presented. The student may present any or all of the following:

  • a prepared, written statement rebutting the evidence;
  • material evidence that supports the claim that the work is the student's own and that documents the process by which the assignment in question was generated;
  • the testimony of any others who may have been involved in the incident.

C. The Assistant Dean/Director of Academic Advising will review the materials and evidence presented by the student and request further clarification from instructor(s) and/or the student as needed and consult the Academic Dean as needed.
D. The Assistant Dean/Director of Academic Advising will notify the student and the instructor as to the outcome of the appeal.  The decision of the Assistant Dean/Director of Academic Advising is final. 

Report of Academic Misconduct Form