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Senate Policy on Academic Honesty

Serious Offences Against the Standards of Academic Honesty

Note. This summary is not exhaustive. In some cases the University regulations on non-academic discipline may apply. Some academic offences constitute offences under the Criminal Code of Canada; a student charged under University regulations may also be subject to criminal charges. Charges may also be laid against York University students for matters which arise at other educational institutions.

Offences
Cheating

Cheating is the attempt to gain an improper advantage in an academic evaluation. Among the forms this kind of dishonesty can take are: obtaining a copy of an examination before it is officially available or learning an examination question before it is officially available; copying another person's answer to an examination question; consulting an unauthorized source during an examination; obtaining assistance by means of documentary, electronic or other aids which are not approved by the instructor; or changing a score or a record of an examination result.

It is also improper to submit the work one has done for one class or project to a second class, or as a second project, without getting the informed consent of the relevant instructors. Acceptance of one piece of work that is submitted for two classes must be arranged beforehand. It is understood that students may wish to build on previous research in the preparation of a paper but students must also be aware that such a practice may run afoul of the intention of the assignment. In all such cases the student must discuss the matter with the instructors and receive written permission beforehand.

Impersonation

It is a breach of academic honesty to have someone impersonate one's self in class, in a test or examination, or in connection with any other type of assignment in a course. Both the impersonator and the individual impersonated may be charged.

Plagiarism and other misappropriation of the work of another

Plagiarism is the representation of another person's ideas or writing as one's own. The most obvious form of this kind of dishonesty is the presentation of all or part of another person's published work as something one has written. However, paraphrasing another's writing without proper acknowledgement may also be considered plagiarism. It is also a violation of academic honesty to represent another's artistic or technical work or creation as one's own. Just as there are standards to which one must adhere in the preparation and publication of written works, there are standards to which one must adhere in the creation and presentation of music, drawings, designs, dance, photography and other artistic and technical works. In different forms, these constitute a theft of someone else's work. This is not to say that students should not use the work of others with the proper acknowledgement.

Improper research practices

Many academic activities may involve the collecting, analyzing, interpreting, and publishing of information or data obtained in the scientific laboratory or in the field. Opportunities to deviate from acceptable standards may be more numerous in research than in the classroom, as research activities may be supervised less closely. Forms of improper research practices include the dishonest reporting of investigative results either through fabrication or falsification, taking or using the research results of others without permission or due acknowledgment, misrepresentation of research results or the methods used, the selective reporting or omission of conflicting information or data to support a particular notion or hypothesis. Furthermore, all researchers have a responsibility to refrain from practices that may unfairly inhibit the research of others now or later. This responsibility extends to York University students in other institutions or countries.

Dishonesty in publication:

In most instances the objective of scholarly research is the dissemination of information, usually in the form of a written and published work. Indeed, in many disciplines career advancement is often based largely on the number and quality of an individual's publications. It is a violation of academic honesty to knowingly publish information that will mislead or deceive readers. This includes the falsification or fabrication of data or information, as well as the failure to give credit to collaborators as joint authors or the listing as authors of others who have not contributed to the work. Plagiarism is also considered a form of dishonesty in publication.

Premature oral or written dissemination of information

Information or experimental data that was collected with a member of the faculty or another student, and other works that involved the participation of a faculty member or another student should not be submitted for publication prematurely, without appropriate permission.

Abuse of confidentiality

A student may be asked to help in the evaluation of confidential grant proposals, award applications, or manuscripts that will be or may have been submitted for possible funding or publication. Taking or releasing the ideas or data of others that were given with the expectation that they are confidential is inappropriate. Unless one is authorized to do so, it is improper to obtain a password assigned to another or to copy or modify a data file or program belonging to someone else. Proper authorization means being granted permission either by the owner or originator of that material, or by a faculty member, or an appropriate administrator. Similarly, one should not violate the integrity of a computer system to harass another user or operator, damage software or hardware or evade appropriate monetary charges.

Falsification or unauthorized modification of an academic record

It is a breach of academic honesty to falsify fabricate or in any other way modify a

  • student examination,
  • transcript,
  • grade,
  • letter of recommendation, or
  • related document.

Other breaches of academic honesty include:

  • making false claims or statements,
  • submitting false information,
  • altering official documents or records,
  • attempting or causing others to do or attempt any of the above with intent to mislead an:

    i) instructor,
    ii) an academic unit,
    iii) program,
    iv) office, or
    v) committee

as to a student's academic status, qualifications, actions or preparation.

Failure to divulge previous attendance at another post-secondary institution on an admissions application is also a violation.

Obstruction of the academic activities of another

It is a violation of academic honesty to interfere with the scholarly activities of another in order to harass or gain unfair academic advantage. This includes interference or tampering with experimental data, with a human or animal subject, with a written or other creation (e.g., a painting, sculpture or film), with a chemical used for scientific study, or with any other object of study.

Aiding or abetting academic misconduct:

Knowingly aiding or abetting anyone in a breach of academic honesty shall itself be considered misconduct. This may include assisting others in the preparation of work submitted for appraisal or offering for sale essays or other assignments with the intention that these works would be submitted for appraisal.

Sanctions for Academic Misconduct
Penalties

When verified, a violation of academic honesty may lead to the following penalties:

  • oral or written disciplinary warning or reprimand;
  • a make-up assignment or examination;
  • lower grade or failure on assignment or examination;
  • failure in the course;
  • suspension from the University for a definite period (1);
  • notation on transcript (2);
  • withholding or rescinding a York degree, diploma or certificate (3);
  • retroactive withdrawal of a graduate student from a course with a transcript notation of the reason for the withdrawal.

A permanent record of the offence will be placed in the student's academic file. This record is for internal academic purposes only.

1. "Suspension" is defined as a penalty of a variable but limited period during which the student may not register in the University, imposed for serious academic offenses such as plagiarism and cheating. This penalty may be awarded only by a Faculty-level committee which has received authority to do so from a Faculty Council.

2. A student may petition to the Senate Appeals Committee to have the notation removed after a period of five years from the date at which the notation was entered.

3. Where a Faculty decides to rescind a degree, diploma or certificate, the decision, with supporting documentation, must be forwarded to the Senate Appeals Committee for approval on behalf of Senate.

Penalty Guidelines

It is in the interest of all concerned that students who are being penalized for a breach of academic honesty receive equitable and consistent treatment across the University. To this end, a range of penalties for each offence has been developed which reflects an appropriate realm of sanctions for the variations of each offence. The range has been developed to guide faculties in imposing penalties, and is a reflection of the distinction and limitations of certain Faculties' academic regulations. Senate does not expect the exact penalty to be imposed for the same offence on each and every occasion around the University, as it is recognized that many factors come into play in each individual case. It is necessary, however, that all students found to have committed a specific offence be faced with the same penalty options in the first instance. It is not the intention of these guidelines to restrict the authority or flexibility of faculty committees in imposing the sanctions as listed above in Section E; faculties will, in each case, exercise their discretion, taking into consideration the relevant factors, as outlined below. For the benefit of students, however, faculty committees which impose a sanction outside of the range of penalties (but still within the options outlined above) are encouraged to provide a thorough explanation in their written decision as to why it was deemed warranted.

Factors to be considered in imposing penalties

Although similar infractions are commonly committed by students University-wide, the circumstances surrounding each may vary to a significant degree. The penalty imposed should reflect, reasonably, these circumstances. Important factors to be considered by committees in imposing penalties or reviewing penalty recommendations are:

  1. Extent of violation: The actions which constitute specific offenses of academic honesty (i.e. plagiarism, cheating) vary in terms of severity. Some instances of academic dishonesty constitute only minor infractions while others represent the most extreme form of violation. Penalties should correspond to the nature of the offence.
     
  2. Basic considerations:
    • The level of the student's academic experience is important in determining the degree to which they should be penalized.
    • Extenuating circumstances which a student faced at the time in question may help explain the action taken on their part, and due weight should be attached to those circumstances.
    • If the student admits guilt, accepts responsibility for their action, and is amenable to educative remedies, committees may find it justified to levy a less severe penalty.
  3. Prior/multiple incidents: If the offence is a second (or subsequent) one for the student and/or is in combination with another offence, then a severe penalty should be considered.

Note: Penalties may be imposed singularly or in combination for any offence.

The Range of Penalties by Offence
Cheating

Examples of cheating include:

  • cheating on examination or test, or providing unauthorized assistance to another;
  • obtaining test or examination questions in advance;
  • attempting to or purchasing an essay for submission as own work;
  • submission of a single piece of work to two courses without permission;
  • unauthorized collaboration on assignments.

Range of penalties:

  • written reprimand to student;
  • rewrite work subject to grade penalty;
  • grade on work, or section/question, reduced (may be down to "0");
  • final grade in course lowered;
  • retroactive withdrawal from the course;
  • grade of "F" in the course;
  • suspension;
  • transcript notation;
Plagiarism

Examples of plagiarism include:

  • submission of another's work as own, in part or whole;
  • paraphrasing/reproducing another's work without proper acknowledgement.

Range of penalties:

  • written reprimand to student;
  • rewrite work subject to grade penalty;
  • grade on work, or section/question, reduced (may be down to "0");
  • final grade in course lowered;
  • retroactive withdrawal from the course (1);
  • grade of "F" in the course;
  • suspension;
  • transcript notation.

(1) penalty applicable only to students in the Faculty of Graduate Studies, and imposed only in conjunction with a transcript notation.

Falsification or Unauthorized Modification of an Academic Document/Record

Examples of documents/records include:

  • transcripts;
  • examination/test;
  • letter of recommendation, or related document;
  • degree;
  • physician's letter/form.

Also includes failure to divulge previous attendance at another post secondary educational institution.

Range of penalties:

  • written reprimand to student;
  • reduced grade on work, or section/question [may be down to "0"] (1);
  • final grade in course lowered (1);
  • grade of "F" in the course (1);
  • suspension;
  • transcript notation.

(1) If specific course involved.

Impersonation

It is a violation of academic honesty to have someone impersonate a student in:

  • a class;
  • test or examination;
  • connection with any other course assignment.

Range of penalties:

  • grade of "F" in the course;
  • suspension;
  • transcript notation.

Improper Research Practices

Examples include:

  • dishonest reporting of investigative results either through fabrication or falsification;
  • taking or using the research results of others without permission or acknowledgement;
  • misrepresentation of research results or the methods used;
  • selective reporting or omission of conflicting information or data to support a particular notion or hypothesis.

Range of penalties:

  • written reprimand to student;
  • failure on work (if applicable);
  • failure in the course (if applicable);
  • suspension;
  • transcript notation;
  • withhold or rescind degree, diploma or certificate.
Dishonesty in Publication

It is a violation of academic honesty to knowingly publish information that will mislead or deceive readers; this includes:

  • falsification or fabrication of data or information;
  • failure to give credit to collaborators as joint authors or the listing as authors of others who have not contributed to the work.

Range of penalties:

  • written reprimand to student;
  • failure on work (if applicable);
  • failure in the course (if applicable);
  • suspension;
  • transcript notation;
  • withhold or rescind degree, diploma or certificate.
Premature Oral or Written Dissemination Of Information

Information, data or other information collected with another student or faculty member should not be submitted for publication prematurely without permission.

Range of penalties:

  • written reprimand to student;
  • failure on work (if applicable);
  • failure in the course (if applicable);
  • suspension;
  • transcript notation;
  • withhold or rescind degree, diploma or certificate.
Abuse of Confidentiality

Examples include:

  • taking or releasing the confidential ideas or data of others;
  • obtaining a computer password assigned to another;
  • copying or modifying a data file or computer program belonging to another;
  • violating the integrity of a computer system to harass another, damage software or hardware or evade appropriate monetary charges.

Range of penalties:

  • written reprimand to student;
  • failure on work (if applicable);
  • failure in the course (if applicable);
  • suspension;
  • transcript notation;
  • withhold or rescind degree, diploma or certificate.

Obstruction of the Academic Activities of Another

Examples include interference or tampering with:

  • experimental data;
  • human or animal subject;
  • written or other creation (painting, sculpture, film);
  • a chemical used for scientific study;
  • any other object of study.

Range of Penalties:

  • written reprimand to student;
  • reduced grade on work [may be down to "0"] (if applicable);
  • failure in the course;
  • suspension;
  • transcript notation;
  • withhold or rescind degree, diploma, or certificate.
Aiding or Abetting Academic Misconduct

Examples include:

  • knowingly assisting others in the preparation of work submitted for appraisal;
  • offering for sale essays or assignments.

Range of penalties:

  • written reprimand to student;
  • failure on work (if applicable);
  • failure in the course (if applicable);
  • suspension;
  • transcript notation.