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Academic Integrity Forms and Resources for Instructors

Instructors face the challenge of promoting academic integrity in the classroom by reinforcing the idea that we are all part of an academic community and the practices consistent with academic integrity provide the roles and rules within which creative, innovative and education exchange takes place. Students should be presented with the strategies designed to meet the demands of academic integrity and with clear expectations about the expectations for all aspects of a course. At the same time, the instructor must monitor student essays, labs, exams and other assignments to see that the values of academic integrity are evident. Where there is concern about the integrity of any course work, an instructor must investigate the departure from the expectations of academic integrity and follow a process which balances student rights and the requirements of the academic community to protect the integrity of all its transactions.

Departure from Academic Integrity: Guidelines for Instructors

The following procedures should be followed in investigating possible departures from academic integrity and making findings. Instructors should also familiarize themselves with Academic Regulation 1 in the Faculty of Arts and Science calendar. The Regulation allows 21 days for the instructor to investigate a possible departure from academic integrity and arrive at a decision.

If  the student's home Faculty is not Arts and Science, instructors should contact the Faculty Office, Student Services (x77187) prior to assigning a sanction.

1. Collection of evidence

To begin investigating a possible departure from academic integrity, the instructor should assemble all documents related to the case. Such documents might include:

  • the work submitted by the student for academic credit;
  • the source(s) from which the work submitted by the student is apparently derived;
  • the instructions describing the nature of the work to be done;
  • any email between instructor and student relating to the work;
  • any documents used by the instructor or his or her department stating policies on departures from academic integrity.

While collecting evidence, the instructor is encouraged to seek guidance from the Undergraduate Chair, Head, or appropriate department delegate concerning matters relating to departures from academic integrity, and from the Coordinator of Dispute Resolution Mechanisms concerning university policy and procedure. When discussing possible departures from academic integrity, the instructor should ensure that the student’s identity remains confidential, pending a finding of departure from academic integrity.

2. Investigation of possible departure from academic integrity

a. Inform student in writing of the investigation

An instructor who identifies a possible departure from academic integrity must fill out the Notice of Investigation Form. Completing the form supplies the student with all of the information required by the Regulations, including:

  • the evidence on which the investigation is based (the student should be supplied with all documents related to the investigation);
  • the possible remedies and sanctions as outlined below;
  • the student's right to respond to the investigation in writing or in person; and
  • the student's right to have representation in any response to the investigation; the student should always be informed of the services provided by the Coordinator of Dispute Resolution Mechanisms.

The instructor should use the Notice of Investigation form provided by the Faculty of Arts and Science. (Limited space is provided, so please feel free to attach a separate letter if you would like.) So long as the case is under investigation, instructors should address all matters to the student as "possible," or "apparent" departures from academic integrity.

Instructors are advised to email the student at their Queen's email account and advise them that a response is expected within 10 days.

b. Receive student response to the notice of investigation of the possible departure

Within 10 days of receiving the notice of investigation, the student must make an initial response to the instructor, either to schedule a meeting or to indicate that he/she does not wish to meet and will provide a written response. If the student wishes to meet, the instructor should ask who else, if anyone, will accompany the student. If the student appears with legal counsel without prior notice, the instructor should re-schedule the meeting and contact the University solicitor for legal support.

In most instances, the instructor will meet with the student to discuss the possible departure from academic integrity. At least 10 calendar days prior to the meeting, the student has the right to know what material will be considered. At the meeting, the student will have the opportunity to respond to the investigation. If the student wishes, he or she may offer a written submission in addition to attending the meeting and may bring an advisor. Similarly, the instructor may be accompanied by an advisor (typically the undergraduate chair or designate), who, if desired, should take on the limited role of chairing the meeting and/or providing clarification of the procedures related to investigations of possible departures from academic integrity.

If, for any reason, the student does not wish to meet in person, the student should be informed that he/she may submit a detailed, written explanation of the studentís side of the story to the instructor, along with copies of earlier drafts of the studentís work, and any other relevant documentation. This written submission must be provided to the instructor no more than 10 days of receipt of the notice of investigation.

If an investigation is initiated near the end of the course or otherwise cannot be resolved prior to the grade submission deadline, the instructor should assign a Grade Deferred (GD) to hold the final grade in abeyance until the investigation process has been concluded. Once the investigation is concluded, the instructor must submit a change of grade.

The student may not drop the course while an investigation is under way. However, there is no mechanism on SOLUS to prevent a student from doing so prior to the academic drop deadline. Therefore, instructors should proceed with the investigation whether or not a student has dropped the course. If an instructor becomes aware that a student under investigation has dropped the course, the instructor should alert the Associate Deans (Studies), who will reinstate the student pending the outcome of the case. Otherwise, if a finding is made, the Faculty Office will confirm the student's enrolment status in the course when filing the finding, and reinstate the student at that time, if necessary.

3. Finding of departure from academic integrity

After considering the available evidence, the instructor will determine if the evidence for a finding of departure from academic integrity is sufficient. Conflicts of evidence and issues of credibility on pivotal issues must be resolved and a finding of fact made concerning the version of events accepted before the finding of a departure from academic integrity can be made. The decision should be rendered and written within 21 days of commencing the investigation.

a. In cases where there is no finding of departure from academic integrity

If, after a careful investigation of the evidence and consideration of the response by the student, the instructor determines that there are no grounds for a finding of departure from academic integrity, all documents related to the case must be destroyed and the instructor must inform the student that the investigation has been dropped.

b. In cases where there is a finding of departure from academic integrity

If, after a careful investigation of the evidence and consideration of the response by the student, the instructor determines that there is sufficient and persuasive evidence to make a finding of departure from academic integrity, the instructor must complete a Finding of a Departure from Academic Integrity Form and will need to determine an appropriate sanction or remedy. (see Step 4 below). Up to this point, a record of previous departures from academic integrity is not relevant in making a finding of departure from academic integrity.

4. Assessment of remedy or sanction

a. Contact Faculty Office

Where there is a finding of departure from academic integrity, the instructor must first contact the the Appeals Coordinator (x77187) who maintains the Faculty's academic-integrity records. If a previous finding exists, the Coordinator will inform the instructor and follow up in writing. In this case the instructor will indicate on the Finding from a Departure of Academic Integrity Form that the case is being referred to the Associate Deans (Studies) for the assignment of an appropriate sanction. In these cases, the instructor should proceed directly to Step 6 below.

b. Considerations in assessing the remedy or sanction

If the student's home Faculty is not Arts and Science, the sanction is determined in consulation with the student's home faculty. Should you have questions about this process please contact the Faculty Office (x77187) prior to assigning a sanction (http://www.queensu.ca/secretariat/policies/senateandtrustees/AIprocedures.pdf)

If no other academic-integrity record is on file in the Faculty Office, the instructor may assign a remedy or sanction appropriate to the extent or severity of the offense. After the finding is made, it is recommended that the instructor consult the Undergraduate Chair, Head, and/or department delegate concerning the matter of an appropriate remedy or sanction. The instructor should consider several factors in assessing the gravity of the remedial measure or sanction to be imposed. Factors which should be considered in assigning a remedy or sanction include the following:

  • Evidence of a deliberate attempt to gain advantage;
  • Seriousness of the departure having regard to its actual or potential consequences;
  • The extent to which the work or conduct in question forms a significant portion of the final grade and whether the extent of the departure is substantial as demonstrated by the work or conduct in question;
  • Injury to another student or to the institution;
  • Multiple departures within a single incident or multiple departures discovered at one time, rather than an isolated aberration;
  • The departure has been committed by an upper-year student who ought to be familiar with the expectations for academic integrity in the discipline, department and/or Faculty;
  • Conduct that intimidated others or provoked the misconduct by others;

In addition, there may be occasions where there may be mitigating circumstances. Although mitigating circumstances do not exonerate or excuse a student from the finding of a departure from academic integrity, these factors should be taken into account to ensure that the remedy or sanction imposed is fair, reasonable, and proportionate to the gravity of the departure found. The decision must outline the evidence supporting reliance on the mitigating circumstances. The onus is on the student to adduce evidence of mitigating circumstances. The sorts of mitigating circumstances that may be relevant include:

  • Documented evidence from an appropriate health professional of factors directly compromising the student’s capacity to adhere to the standards of academic integrity at the relevant time;
  • Prompt admission to the alleged departure from academic integrity by the student and expression of contrition and willingness to undertake educative remedies;
  • Evidence that reasonable steps were not taken in the circumstances to bring the standards and expectations regarding academic integrity to the attention of the student at the relevant time.

In summary, any sanction should reflect the extent and severity of the departure from academic integrity and precedents in the Academic Unit and Faculty taking into account any mitigating circumstances. The instructor may consider a range of remedies or sanctions including:

  • an oral or written warning that such infractions constitute unacceptable behaviour;
  • a learning experience involving a rewriting or revision of the original piece of work;
  • the submission of a new piece of work;
  • the completion of other work;
  • the deduction of partial or total loss of marks for the assignment/exam;
  • or a failing grade (down to a grade of zero) in the course. If the sanction amounts to a failure in the course, the student may NOT drop the course regardless of the drop deadlines.

Or, if the instructor believes that a more serious sanction is warranted, the case shall be referred to the Associate Deans (Studies) and the instructor should proceed directly to Step 6 below, Referral of Sanction Associated with a Finding of Departure from Academic Integrity.

c. Categorizing the sanction or remedy

In deciding on an appropriate sanction, instructors are requested to distinguish between "minor" (Level I) and "major" (Level II) departures, such that Level I departures will not be kept in a student's main file, but in a separate special file that will only be accessed if there is a future finding. Central to the separation of a finding from the studentís main file is an attempt to find a balance between remediation and sanction. Whereas sanctions are necessary where there are findings of departures from academic integrity, this policy avoids treating students punitively in all cases and allows for remedies which seek to educate students about matters related to academic integrity.

In preparing the Finding, instructors must categorize the departure as being either Level I or II based on the guidelines outlined below. Only one factor need apply to establish a Level II departure. Because instructors are generally the most familiar with the case and the surrounding circumstances, instructors are expected to use informed judgment and reasonable discretion in deciding on a Level I vs. Level II departure. Instructors may also seek general advice on categorizing the remedy or sanction from the Faculty Office.

Level I

  • departure on an assignment where the sanction is less than 50% of the course grade
  • any sanction that will NOT necessarily result in a failure in a course
  • student at an early stage of his/her academic career, especially a Year 1 student
  • student with little or no experience in a course in particular department (for example first-time experience in a History or Psychology Department)
  • no direct evidence of a deliberate attempt to gain advantage
  • no direct effect on other student(s)

Level II (only one factor need apply)

  • any sanction that WILL result in a failure in a course
  • upper-year student who has taken several previous courses in the discipline (for instance, a fourth-year student in a concentration course)
  • previous departures from academic integrity (the case should therefore be referred to the Associate Dean)
  • 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 studentsí paper, assignment, lab)

5. Informing the student of finding and remedy (or sanction)

If, in the instructor's assessment, the finding warrants a sanction within the scope of those available to the instructor (Step 4 above), and the case is not being referred to the Associate Dean (Studies) (Step 6 below), the instructor must fill in the Finding of Departure from Academic Integrity form. Completing the form supplies the student with the information required by our Regulations, including:

  • the details of the decision or finding of departure from academic integrity. The decision must state reasons for the finding and be supported by relevant, clear and cogent evidence;
  • the remedy or sanctions;
  • the student's right to appeal the finding and/or the sanction to the Associate Deans (Studies);
  • the deadline for appealing to the Associate Deans (Studies);
  • the resources available for consultation; the instructor should inform the student of the services provided by the Coordinator of Dispute Resolution Mechanisms; and
  • the fact that a copy of the finding will be kept on file in the Office of the Associate Deans (Studies).

All original documents related to the case, including the submitted work, and any relevant correspondence, as well as copies of the Notice of Investigation form, and Finding of Departure from Academic Integrity form should be forwarded to the Associate Deans (Studies), in case the finding is appealed. Instructors should also keep copies of all documents related to the case for their own records, but to maintain student confidentiality, no documents (including the Finding form) should be retained in departmental student files.

6. Referral of sanction associated with a finding of departure from academic integrity to the Associate Deans (Studies)

If the finding appears to warrant a sanction more serious than the instructor may impose, or if there is a previous finding of a departure from academic integrity on file in the Faculty Office, the case shall be referred to the Associate Deans (Studies). 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. In the event of such a referral, the instructor must still fill in the Finding of Departure from Academic Integrity form. Completing the form supplies the student with the information required by our Regulations, including:

  • the details of the finding of departure from academic integrity;
  • the evidence on which the finding is based (the student should be supplied with all documents related to the finding);
  • the reason for the referral to the Associate Deans (Studies);
  • the possible sanctions;
  • the right to respond; and
  • the right to have representation for any response; the instructor will advise the student to contact the Coordinator of Dispute Resolution Mechanisms.


Instructors are advised to email the student at their Queen's email account and advise them that a response is expected within 10 days.  All original documents related to the case, including the submitted work, and any relevant correspondence, as well as copies of the Notice of Investigation form, and Finding of Departure from Academic Integrity form should be forwarded to the Associate Deans (Studies). Instructors should also keep copies of all documents related to the case for their own records, but to maintain student confidentiality, no documents (including the Finding form) should be retained in departmental student files.

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