Procedures for Dealing with Plagiarism

  1. Common Definitions of Plagiarism
  2. Procedures
  3. Guidelines for Discussions with Students
  4. Academic Consultations
  5. Academic Honesty Board
  6. Appeals
  7. Procedural Guidelines for Administrative and Judicial Hearings

Common Definitions of Plagiarism

The following definitions of minimal, substantial, and complete plagiarism are adapted with permission from Westmont College.

  • Minimal plagiarism is defined as doing any of the following without attribution:

    • Inserting verbatim phrases of 2-3 distinctive words or inserting small parts of media, software, or other materials
    • Substituting synonyms into an original sentence rather than rewriting the complete sentence
    • Reordering the clauses of a sentence
    • Imitating the sentence, paragraph, or organizational structure, or writing style of a source or using a source's line of logic, thesis or ideas
  • Substantial plagiarism is defined as doing any of the following without attribution:

    • Inserting verbatim sentences or longer passages from a source or inserting significant parts of media, software, or other materials
    • Combining paraphrasing with verbatim sentences to create a paragraph or more of text
    • Repeatedly and pervasively engaging in minimal plagiarism
    • Reusing or modifying a previously submitted paper (e.g., from another course) for another assignment without obtaining prior approval from the instructors involved
  • Complete plagiarism is defined as doing any of the following:

    • Submitting or presenting someone's complete published or unpublished work (paper, article, or chapter, media, software, or other materials)
    • Submitting another student's work for an assignment, with or without that person's knowledge or consent
    • Using information from a campus file of old assignments
    • Downloading a term paper from a web site
    • Buying a term paper from a mail order company or web site
  • Extreme plagiarism is defined as doing any of the following:

    • Repeatedly plagiarizing on minor assignments while avoiding grades that lead to automatic dismissal
    • Patently denying evidence that has been reviewed by the faculty and supporting staff
    • Profiting from plagiarism
    • Stealing material through illicit or coercive means
    • Responding in a disrespectful and abrasive manner to a charge of plagiarism that has been reviewed by the faculty and supporting staff

The PPP focuses on substantial and complete plagiarism, although minimal and extreme are included to demonstrate the scope of the program.


Procedures

If preventative measures fail, faculty members will be asked to consult with the Academic Advising Center to determine the type of plagiarism that has occurred using the common definitions and receive assistance completing the Plagiarism Review Form (available from any of your WorldClassRoom course pages.

The Academic Advising Center will follow up with the student to take a plagiarism tutorial or to hold an academic consultation with the student.

Using the definitions provided above, the following actions will be used to address incidents of plagiarism:

  • Minimal Plagiarism: These incidents will most commonly be addressed exclusively within the course. Repeated minimal plagiarism may be treated as substantial at the faculty member's discretion.

  • Substantial Plagiarism: In addition to being addressed within the course, the instructor may use the PPP to have the student complete a plagiarism tutorial. If the student has already completed the tutorial as documented by the PPP, Academic Advising Center will organize an academic consultation.

    Third offenses, and second offenses that are documented as complete plagiarism, are reported to the appropriate academic dean as a code violation, which may warrant referral of the case to the Academic Honesty Board (see summary on page 8) for a hearing on potential suspension or dismissal.*

  • Complete Plagiarism: In addition to being dealt with in the course, the instructor may use the PPP to have the student complete a plagiarism tutorial AND participate in an academic consultation. Second offenses are reported to the appropriate academic dean as a code violation, which may warrant referral of the case to the Academic Honesty Board (see summary on page 8) for a hearing on potential suspension or dismissal.*

  • Extreme Plagiarism: Incidents of extreme plagiarism are reported immediately to the appropriate academic dean for a decision on further action. Faculty need not include the Academic Advising Center, but it is recommended to provide a second opinion and to prepare any additional documentation for the academic dean.

*It is likely that academic deans will not pursue further action for graduate students as course failure already triggers academic dismissal or probation.


Guidelines for Discussions with Students

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Academic Consultations

Academic Consultations, employed as described in the next section, are mandatory reviews of the consequences of another offense.

For undergraduate students:

Consultations will be facilitated by the Academic Advising Center and will include the academic department chair (and campus director or designee if applicable). In addition, the Student Success Committee or International Student Success Committee should be notified in the cases when the consequences (for example, failing the course) will place the student in academic jeopardy. The appropriate committee can provide additional referrals if necessary and may be able to identify if the student is exhibiting other behavioral issues that should be considered.

This mechanism of notification will address the behavioral aspect of plagiarism (as it is not strictly an academic violation but also a violation of behavioral code) and in extreme cases, the chair can then decide to report the case to the appropriate academic dean as a code violation, which may warrant referral of the case to the Academic Honesty Board for a hearing on potential suspension or dismissal.

For graduate students:

Consultations will be facilitated by the Academic Advising Center and will include the department chair and the campus director or designee if applicable. Academic Advising will notify the appropriate department chair of consultations for students in the department, but due to the dispersed nature of graduate programs, chairs may determine that they do not wish to involve themselves.

Unlike undergraduate dismissals, behavioral dismissals may not be warranted for graduate students due to the nature of the probation and dismissal policies tied to graduate students. If a student receives a deficient grade due to plagiarism, the penalties are as follows:

Before advancement to candidacy (12 core hours completed, does not include prerequisites), if students receive a single grade of C, they will automatically be placed on academic probation, limited to 1 class per term, and notified via mail. If students receive a second grade of C or a single grade of F (or ZF, in the case of Incompletes that are converted after one year), they will be dismissed from the program.

After advancement to candidacy, a student who receives three C grades, a combination of a C and an F, or two F grades will be dismissed from the program.

The Academic Advising Center will also have the ability to forward a plagiarism case to the appropriate dean for further action if necessary. An example of a case where this may be necessary would be the repeat offender who has already been through the plagiarism tutorial, may have multiple issues documented, but whose final offense may yield a grade for the course that does not result in dismissal. In cases like these, the Academic Advising Center will reserve the right to request that a dean consider whether the case is a code violation, which may warrant referral of the case to the Academic Honesty Board for a hearing on potential suspension or dismissal.

Students who are dismissed have the right of appeal with one exception: students who are conditionally admitted (based on an undergraduate cumulative GPA of 2.0 to 2.49999) will be dismissed with no right of appeal if they receive any grade lower than a B- prior to advancement to candidacy. However, they may appeal for readmission after the passage of one calendar year, as may students who are denied reinstatement.

In the case of students who appeal for reinstatement or readmission to the Graduate Council, a recommendation (much like that requested from the site director, instructor, or dean) can be provided by Academic Advising Center detailing each student's progress with the PPP.

Given this, it may not be necessary to utilize consultations with department chairs since academic probation and dismissal policies for graduate students are more limiting than for undergraduate students.


Academic Honesty Board

The purpose of the Academic Honesty Board is to hear cases involving charges of student violations of the policies pertaining to academic dishonesty, including plagiarism and cheating, in cases that might involve suspension or expulsion.

The Academic Honesty Board consists of a pool of representatives appointed each year as follows: five full-time and five part-time faculty members from each school and college appointed by the academic deans, and five academic administrative staff members appointed by the Provost and Senior Vice President. The panel of board members for each hearing is composed of two faculty members and two academic administrative staff members, chosen from the aforementioned pool. The Academic Honesty Board selects one of its members to serve as presiding officer.

Cases are referred to the Academic Honesty Board by the academic deans. Staff support for the Academic Honesty Board is provided by the Academic Advising Center.

Students may appeal decisions of the Academic Honesty Board to the Provost and Senior Vice President.


Appeals

Grounds for appeals:

  • Procedural error
  • New evidence
  • Excessive sanction

Limits of appeal and sequence of appeal:

A student found in violation of a stated policy may appeal only once, based on one or more of the criteria cited above.

Appeals of decisions made by the Academic Honesty Board are decided upon by the Provost and Senior Vice President.

Appeal procedure:

  1. The student must file the appeal through the Academic Advising Center (or Campus Director) within 10 calendar days of receiving written notification of the decision. The Academic Advising Center then forwards the appeal to the Provost's Office.
  2. The individual seeking the appeal must indicate, in writing, the specific bases or reasons for his or her appeal. The appeal statement should include the following: student's name, ID#, local address, phone number, reason for appeal (see criteria above), and appropriate information regarding why the appeal should be granted. The letter should be of sufficient detail to stand on its own without accompanying testimony to permit the evaluation of the merit of the grounds for appeal. For example, if there were procedural errors, the errors should be identified and it should be noted what effect those errors had on the outcome of the case. If there is new evidence, the nature of that evidence and the potential effect on the outcome of the case should be noted. If the student believes the sanction was excessive, the student should take great care to note why they believe the sanction was excessive and should suggest a more reasonable sanction.
  3. The Provost will consider the written statement of appeal and recommend the action to be taken: denial of appeal or a new hearing. The individuals involved will receive written notification of the decision from the Academic Advising Center.
  4. If the result of the appeal is an order for a rehearing, a new panel of Academic Honesty Board members would rehear the case.

Procedural Guidelines for Administrative and Judicial Hearings

The Academic Honesty Board shall conduct hearings so as to assure the basic concept of procedural fairness. The following procedures shall be adhered to:

  1. The Academic Advising Center is responsible for setting the hearing time, notifying all parties who are to testify, and forwarding all pertinent data to the appropriate board.
  2. The Academic Advising Center shall give appropriate advance notice, in writing, of the charges against the student and copies of available evidence, to ensure that he or she may adequately prepare for such a hearing. The notice clearly indicates the date, time, and place of the hearing. The notification should be received by the student at least three calendar days prior to the hearing. Students who receive University accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act should notify the Hearing Officer about the accommodations that should be accorded them as part of the disciplinary process.
  3. The hearing shall not be considered to be a legalistic trial. Rather, the Academic Honesty Board shall examine all relevant facts and circumstances at the hearing, shall ensure the relevancy of witnesses' statements, and shall, using a standard of “more likely than not,” determine whether the charged student should be held responsible for a violation of the Academic Honesty policies.
  4. Hearings are confidential and closed to all but the principals of the case. At the discretion of the Hearing Officer, a transcript may be kept in audio taped or written form. The tape and transcript are the property of the Academic Advising Center. Students are not permitted to tape or otherwise record the proceedings. Transcripts will be kept by the Academic Advising Center and may be reviewed but not copied or removed from the Academic Advising Center.
  5. All parties have the right to be assisted in their presentation by an advisor of their choice. The advisor may be, but is not limited to, a friend, a fellow student, or faculty member. The advisor may speak privately to the student charged during the proceedings with permission of the presiding Hearing Officer. At no time during the hearing, however, will such advisor be permitted to speak for the advisee. Each party may request a brief recess to consult with his or her advisor. The presiding officer rules on questions of procedure and is responsible for moving the proceedings along in a timely and orderly manner. Students are responsible for providing copies of all documents to their advisors.
  6. Prior to the hearing (at least 24 hours), the student being charged should submit to the Academic Advising Center a list of any witnesses he or she wishes to present and the nature of the testimony they may offer. This student should also submit a list of questions he or she wishes to have asked of the charging party.
  7. At the hearing, the student being charged and the charging party shall have ample opportunity to explain the circumstances surrounding the incident and are encouraged to present pertinent evidence and the testimony of witnesses in person. In addition, both parties shall be afforded the opportunity to comment on any written statements or other evidence presented, and to respond to questions.
  8. No member of the Academic Honesty Board should be either a witness for or against the student or a person previously engaged in formulating the charge or in presenting the material relating to the case. Alternate members will be appointed in cases in which Board members have a perceived conflict of interest with the principals of the case.
  9. The presiding officer rules on all objections, questions, and procedural points, subject to being overruled by majority vote of the Board. He or she also determines the sequence of testimony, including the option of having all principal parties meet together in the hearing. All those who participate in the hearing are obligated to conduct themselves in an orderly manner and to obey and abide by the presiding officer's rulings. A staff member from Academic Advising Center attends all hearings to serve as an advisor in the process.
  10. Once all testimony is heard or read, the student being charged and the charging party are asked to make a final statement and the Hearing Officer or Board members are given a final opportunity to ask questions. All persons other than Board members and the staff member from the Academic Advising Center are then excused and the Board meets to render a decision. The staff member from the Academic Advising Center does not vote.
  11. The Academic Honesty Board decides whether there was a violation of policy using a standard of “more likely than not.” They also determine whether the charged student should be held responsible for that violation. If so, sanctions are also imposed on the responsible student. Each decision must have been reached by a majority of the Board. Once a decision is reached, the student being charged is informed orally of the decision by the staff member from the Academic Advising Center. Both parties receive the decision in writing from the Academic Advising Center as soon thereafter as is practicable.
  12. A copy of the decision is forwarded to the Office of Student Affairs.