Information for Students Receiving Notice of a Departure from Academic Integrity

When an instructor sees evidence in your work that suggests that a departure from academic integrity may have taken place, it is the instructor’s responsibility to investigate the situation. These are the steps that will be followed:

1. You should receive a written notice of the potential departure from academic integrity.

The first step is to bring the matter to your attention. Using a Notice of Investigation [PDF] form letter, the instructor will inform you of the following:

  • the information on which the investigation is based (you should be supplied with all documents related to the investigation);
  • the possible sanctions as outlined in the Academic Integrity Regulation;
  • your right to respond to the investigation in writing or in person; and
  • your right to have representation for any response made to the investigation of departure from academic integrity (you will be given contact information for the Coordinator of Dispute Resolution Mechanisms who will be able to advise you on matters of process and on obtaining an advisor).

You may not drop the course while an investigation is under way. However, there is no mechanism on SOLUS to prevent you from doing so before the academic drop date. Therefore, the Associate Deans (Studies) has the authority to reinstate you in the course pending a decision on the investigation. If the outcome of the investigation results in a finding of a departure from academic integrity, the course will remain on your record (or, if dropped, it will be reinstated at that time).

2. You should have the opportunity to respond to the Notice of Investigation

It is important that you respond to the investigation. If you donít respond, your instructor will make a decision on the available evidence, without the benefit of hearing from you.

You may choose to respond either by: 1) submitting a written response to the instructor, or 2) meeting with your instructor to discuss the matter. If you prefer to respond in writing, please sign your response and send it to your instructor no later than ten days after receiving the Notice of Investigation. If you prefer to meet, you must contact your instructor no later than five days after receiving the Notice of Investigation to arrange a mutually agreeable time.

In advance of the meeting or in preparing your written response, you should 1) review the evidence provided by the instructor, 2) collect all drafts and related materials relevant to the particular piece of work at issue, and 3) seek advice from an informed member of the Queen's community, such as the Coordinator of Dispute Resolution Mechanisms, or anyone whose advice you trust and value (e.g. parents, a close relative, friend, counselor, etc.). Take these steps into consideration when estimating the time it will take you to prepare your response, whether it is in writing, in person, or both.

Whether meeting in person or responding in writing, you need to provide the instructor with a detailed explanation of your side of the story, including how the information in question came about, and your line of thinking in preparing the work the way you did. Also provide copies of earlier drafts of your work and other relevant documentation. If you meet in person, you may also choose to prepare something in writing to leave with the instructor, along with copies of drafts and other relevant documentation.

To accompany you to the meeting, you may invite an advisor such as a University Dispute Resolution Advisor, friend, advocate, or legal support person of your choice. If you decide to bring legal counsel, however, you must advise the instructor in advance. Normally the instructor will invite the Chair of Undergraduate Studies or other departmental delegate who may take on the limited role of chairing the meeting and/or providing clarification of the procedures related to departures from academic integrity.

Many investigations are resolved at this early stage.

3. Make a decision on the case.

After considering the available evidence and your explanation, the instructor will make a decision within 21 days of meeting with you.

  • If the instructor is satisfied with your explanation and determines that there are no grounds for a finding of departure from academic integrity, all documents related to the case will be destroyed and the instructor will inform you that the investigation has been dropped.
  • If the instructor believes that there is evidence that a departure from academic integrity has taken place, the instructor will make a finding of departure from academic integrity and will also determine an appropriate sanction or remedy. Up to this point, a record of previous departures from academic integrity is not relevant in making a finding of a departure from academic integrity.

4. The instructor will determine a remedy or sanction.

Where there is a finding of departure from academic integrity, the instructor is expected to assign an appropriate remedy or sanction that reflects the extent and severity of the departure. After the finding is made, the instructor may consult the Undergraduate Chair, Department Head or departmental delegate concerning the matter of an appropriate sanction. Also you can expect the instructor will contact the Office of the Associate Deans (Studies) to determine if there have been any previous departures from academic integrity. In the case of a second finding, or multiple findings, a more severe sanction may be warranted.

The range of remedies or sanctions that the instructor can impose include:

  • rewriting or revising the assignment
  • the completion of other work
  • a low mark as is judged necessary
  • a failing grade (down to a grade of zero) in the course. If the penalty amounts to a failure in the course, the student may NOT drop the course regardless of the drop deadlines.

Normally, a finding will be considered Level I, unless one of the following factors applies, in which case it will be characterized as Level II:

  • a departure that involves an essential component of the course for which a failing grade would normally result in a failure in the course
  • an upper-year student who has taken several previous courses in the discipline (for instance, a fourth-year student in a concentration course)
  • previous departure(s) from academic integrity (the instructor would refer the new case to the Associate Deans (Studies)
  • significant and unacknowledged use of one or more sources
  • additional misconduct involving forgery, facilitation, etc.
  • direct negative effect on other students (e.g. stealing another studentís paper, assignment, laboratory)

If a finding is classified as Level I AND there is no other finding of departure from academic integrity on your record, then the finding will remain in a sealed file and only to be consulted upon subsequent findings of departures from academic integrity.

If a finding is classified as Level II (regardless of whether it is a first finding or a subsequent one), the finding will be held in your main file in the Office of the Associate Deans (Studies).

Or, if the instructor believes that a more serious penalty is warranted, the case shall be referred to the Associate Deans (Studies). See item 6 below, Referral of Finding for Departures from Academic Integrity.

5. The instructor will inform you in writing of the decision and remedy (or sanction).

If, in the instructorís assessment, the finding warrants a sanction within the scope of those available to the instructor (Section 4 above), the instructor will inform you in writing of the following:

  • the details of the decision or finding of departure from academic integrity, using the Finding of Departure from Academic Integrity form [PDF]
  • the remedy or sanctions
  • the right to appeal the finding and/or the penalty to the Associate Deans (Studies)
  • the deadline for appealing to the Associate Deans (Studies)
  • the resources available for consultation (the Coordinator of Dispute Resolution; Mechanisms is available to advise you on matters of process and on obtaining an advisor) to the Associate Deans (Studies).

A copy of the Finding of Departure from Academic Integrity [PDF] form and all related documentation must be forwarded to the Associate Deans (Studies). Instructors will retain a copy of all documents related to the case in the event you appeal the finding, but to maintain your confidentiality, no documents (including the finding form) will be retained in Departmental student files.

6. In some cases, the instructor will refer the sanction associated with a finding or departure from academic integrity to the Associate Deans (Studies).

If the matter appears to warrant a sanction more serious than the instructor may impose, the instructor may refer the case to the Associate Deans (Studies) who has the authority to impose a heavier sanction than the instructor can impose. The Associate Deans (Studies) may impose sanctions ranging from those noted above to a recommendation to Senate that the student be required to withdraw from the University. If your case is referred to the Associate Deans (Studies), the instructor must advise you, in writing, of:

  • the details of the finding of departure from academic integrity, using the Finding of a Departure from Academic Integrity [PDF] form;
  • the evidence on which the finding is based (you should be supplied with all documents related to the investigation);
  • the reason for referral
  • the possible penalties
  • the right to respond; and
  • the right to have representation for any response; the instructor will advise you to contact the Coordinator of Dispute Resolution Mechanisms.

Instructors will retain a copy of all documents related to the case to be able to participate in the Associate Dean's investigation and in the event you appeal the finding, but to maintain your confidentiality, no records will be retained in Departmental student files.