Academic Code of Conduct
What is the Academic Code of Conduct?The Academic Code of Conduct is a University policy that outlines the procedures by which academic honesty or integrity is enforced. It outlines offenses, procedures for dealing with offenses, and possible sanctions if charges are upheld.
The Code can be found in the University Calendar or on the Concordia website at:
Plagiarism:Plagiarism is the most common offense under the Code. The Code defines it as:
“the presentation of the work of another person, in whatever form, as one’s own or without proper acknowledgement”
This includes material copied word‐for‐word from books, journals, Internet sites, instructors’ course notes, material that is paraphrased but closely resembles the original source, a paper purchased through one of the many available sources, or work done by a fellow student such as an answer on a quiz, data for a lab report, a paper, or an assignment.
Plagiarism does not refer to words alone – it can also refer to copying images, graphs, tables, and ideas. “Presentation” is not limited to written work ‐ it also includes oral presentations, computer assignments and artistic work.
Several information sources have been developed to assist you in understanding the meaning and implications of plagiarism:
- http://learning.concordia.ca/Help/handouts/WritingHO/AvoidingPlagiarism.shtml includes information on what plagiarism is and how you can avoid it, and
- http://library.concordia.ca/help/howto/citations.html#citing, includes various guides for proper citation of reference material prepared by Concordia's librarians.
What else does the code address?Although plagiarism is the most common offense, the Code addresses other offences as follows:
- Stealing or obtaining exam questions, exam answers or any other University documents without authorization.
- Possession and/or use of any non‐authorized materials, documents or devices such as calculators, translators, crib sheets, or hidden notes, during an examination. Possession of the unauthorized material, even if not used, is itself an offence. This also applies to books that can be accessed during the examination.
- Copying answers from someone else’s exam paper during an examination, or getting unauthorized help during an examination.
- Communicating, for any reason, with any person other than the invigilator during an examination.
- Making any changes to an exam booklet, including tearing out pages or adding pages.
- Removing an exam paper or booklet from an examination room.
- Personation: assuming the identity of another person or having another person assume one's own identity. For example, Mary who is not prepared for an exam asks her friend Jane, who took the course the previous year, to write the exam in her place. Both Mary and Jane can be charged with personation.
- Giving your work to another student knowing that he/she will hand in all or part of your work claiming that it is his/her own. Both students can be charged.
- Submitting the same piece of work for evaluation in two or more courses without prior approval from the course instructors.
- Falsifying documents. This includes any documents being submitted to Concordia as well as any Concordia documents. Examples of falsified documents include transcripts and records for the purpose of admission, notes from medical doctors, or other documents to avoid writing exams or handing in assignments on the prescribed dates.
- Falsifying research facts, data or sources of information. For example, changing a few data points in your
- experiment in order to improve on the experiment’s results.
The Student Advocate Program has recently produced pamphlets in English, French, Chinese and Arabic to help students get a better understanding of the essential content of the Code of Conduct. You can access the presentation and the pamphlets at: http://supportservices.concordia.ca/studentadvocateprogram.
Avoiding problems:Academic integrity or academic honesty includes more than properly citing references in a paper. Here are some
hints on how to avoid problems:
- Take pride in your own work.
- Complete individual assignments yourself, even if you have worked in a group or discussed the assignments with other students. (If group work is allowed, your professors will clearly inform you.)
- Do not submit to the University any false or falsified document.
- If you think a project completed in one course is suitable for the requirements of another course, consult with the instructors before handing in the same work for both courses.
- If you have any questions, or are uncertain about expectations in a course ASK YOUR INSTRUCTOR.
- If you are having problems meeting deadlines SPEAK WITH YOUR INSTRUCTOR.
- If you are experiencing personal problems that are interfering with your studies SPEAK WITH YOUR INSTRUCTOR.
You may feel that these situations are a good excuse for committing a dishonest act, but they are not.
YOU HAVE A CHOICE. CHEATING IS NOT A GOOD CHOICE.If you rely on dishonest behaviour to complete your degree, you will cheapen the value of your degree. You are attending university to learn, and cheating does not achieve this purpose. Dishonest behaviour during your program of study at Concordia will accompany you after you graduate, and may very well cause you problems in your future career.
What happens if you get caught?When an academic offence is committed, the course instructor, or the examination invigilator, will submit a Code of Conduct Incident Report. According to the Academic Code of Conduct, the course instructor cannot discuss the incident with the student once an Incident Report has been submitted. Furthermore, the instructor may not, on his or her own authority, impose a sanction on a student.
The Dean’s delegate will review the Incident Report and the evidence provided. The student will be informed in writing and will be asked to attend an interview. Students may consult with a student advocate to prepare for the interview. In some instances, the Dean’s delegate may refer the case directly to the Academic Hearing Panel.
After the interview, the Dean’s delegate reviews all the information and makes a decision regarding the charge. If the charge is upheld, the Dean’s delegate will specify a sanction (punishment) that is commensurate with the nature and severity of the offence. The following sanctions are listed in Article 26 of the Code:
- Reprimand the student.
- Direct that the piece of work be re‐submitted. This could mean redoing the original assignment or paper or writing another paper or exam.
- Enter a grade of “0” for the piece of work in question or for the course, if applicable.
- Enter a grade reduction in the course.
- Enter a failing grade and ineligibility for a supplemental examination or any other evaluative exercise for the course.
- Impose the obligation to take and pass courses of up to twenty‐four (24) credits in addition to the total number of credits required for the student’s program as specified by the Dean.
When the student receives the decision, he/she has the right to request a hearing before the Academic Hearing Panel. If the case is dismissed, the instructor will be required to grade the assignment/paper/exam, and submit a grade for the course.
Second-time offenders may face expulsion from the University. Concordia University takes academic integrity very seriously.
What are the consequences of academic dishonesty?
- There will be a permanent notation on your academic record that you committed an offence.
- Professors may hesitate to write a positive letter of reference after reviewing your record.
- Academic misconduct may impact on your acceptance into graduate programs or other academic programs at Concordia.
- It can be a traumatic experience that will cost you time and energy, and may impact your self esteem.
- You could embarrass yourself if you get caught, for example during an exam, and be escorted out of the examination room.
- Even if you do not get caught, some of your classmates will know that you cheated, and you will lose their respect.
Preparing for an interview:It is your responsibility to be prepared for the interview. Review the documents that are sent to you, and consult with a Student Advocate who can offer you advice on how to prepare for the interview and how best to present your case. Please note that consulting with someone is not an admission of guilt. On the contrary, it means that you are making use of the resources available to you.
These are not excuses!Please read the following before you are tempted to cheat or to be dishonest:
- I accidentally sent the wrong file to the professor. This seems to be a big problem with assignments being submitted electronically. You are responsible for ensuring that you are sending the correct file. Before you click on “send”, open the file to make sure you are sending the right document.
- I don’t know what plagiarism means. This excuse is going to be more difficult to use as more and more information about plagiarism is made available to students. Professors are being careful to include information on their course outlines. The Concordia Student Union, the Student Advocate Program, Counseling and Development, and the Concordia Libraries provide detailed information on plagiarism.
- I come from another country and we do assignments differently. This is recognized as a legitimate problem, but not a legitimate excuse.
- I don’t read my course outlines. You should.
- I was sick the day the professor talked about plagiarism. It is your responsibility to be informed about this issue.
- My professor is very mean. He/she will deduct marks if assignments are late. Most professors are reasonable people. If you have a number of assignments and papers due at the same time and you know you will have difficulty, SPEAK WITH YOUR INSTRUCTOR.
- I accidentally copied the answer from my friend’s exam. Not a reasonable excuse. You should not be looking at your friend’s examination paper during an exam!
- My friend showed me his answer to the question(s) – I didn’t ask! You and your friend will be charged with academic misconduct.
- The notes I took into the examination were my study notes. Professors do not allow students to study during an exam!
- It is the professor’s fault. Professors have every right to check sources, and to verify that a paper has or has not been plagiarized. Similarly, the University has the right to verify medical notes and other submitted documents.
- I have been ill/There was a death in my family/I was going through a divorce/My children were in trouble in school/I was evicted from my apartment. These are a few examples of legitimate reasons for asking for extensions on assignments. These are not excuses for academic misconduct.
- I asked my friend to hand in the assignment and he handed in the wrong one. Not a reasonable excuse.
- The assignment is only worth a few marks. This is not an excuse to cheat. If an academic offense has been committed it will be dealt with harshly. You have a number of choices: doing the best you can on the assignment, not submitting the assignment because you didn’t have time to complete it, requesting an extension of the deadline from your professor, or cheating.
- Lots of people cheat. This is precisely why Concordia University and other universities are taking a hard line on this issue. The integrity of the university is at stake. What value can be placed on a degree if it is obtained by dishonest means?
This document is an adaptation of material produced by Rose Fedorak, the former Administrator of the Academic Code of Conduct in the Faculty of Arts and Science at Concordia University.