Academic Integrity

Academic Integrity

site header

Case Studies

The following Case Studies may be useful for instructors in the classroom or students to do on their own.

You may or may not have been in one of these situations before. What type of breach is each of the below? What do you think is the best course of action for each?

Friendship Quiz
You and your best friend are in the same class where there will be weekly quizzes altogether worth 35% of your grade. While you study hard every week, your best friend does not appear to be studying at all. On the day of the quiz, she is nudging and whispering to get answers from you, and secretly peeking at your paper. She is one of your really good friends and you don't want to ruin that relationship

 

Answer
Allowing your friend to copy from you would constitute as use of unauthorized materials (i.e. your exam) by your friend and facilitation of this on your part. If both of you were to get caught, not only would your friend be subject to being held responsible for breach of AI, so would you - for assisting her. Thus, the best course of action would be to not respond to her whispers during the exam and turn away when she tries to peek over to prevent her from copying. This can help you and your friend. A good friend would respect your decision and not base friendship on whether or not you help them cheat or not.

 

Sleep vs. Academic Integrity
It is late night and you wish you could go to sleep but you have a large term paper due the next day. You now have a feeling you may not have enough books and articles, and it is way too late for research at the library. For a second, you consider make up references or not citing everything so you can actually get some sleep. After all, what are the chances that the instructor will find out?

 

Answer
This would be a case of plagiarism, as you are not providing credit to sources of information you use. You can take the risk that your instructor may never find out, but in the case that they do, sanctions for plagiarism can range from an oral/written warning, to as serious as rescinding your degree entirely.

 

You can choose to either work later into the night to finish or submit your assignment in late (subject to penalties), but you should always complete the assignment with appropriate references. Next time, prepare schedule your assignments in a more timely manner and give yourself sufficient time to do the work. This way, you won?t give yourself an excuse to not properly cite your sources.

Online Shopping
You have an essay due soon but you also have tons of other exams and assignments. Your friend tells you about how you can buy essays from online sites, sometimes even completely original, for just a small fee! It sounds like the perfect solution right now: who cares if it's not an A essay? You just want something to hand in amidst the madness.

 

Answer
This is evidently a case of plagiarism - you are not submitting work that you've completed on your own. Instructors are knowledgeable about these sources, and when content and style that does not match the course's expectations, they can easily be identified when you submit something you purchased online. The consequences of plagiarism carry on into the future and the stress with dealing with allegations are much greater than being able to temporarily relieve the workload you are trying to deal with. Always submit your original work with proper referencing and credits.

 

Make Up Marks
When applying to some research jobs, you realize your marks may be below what is expected. You ask your tech-savvy friend to help you change up your marks on your transcript to get that position you really want. It is undetectable and the employer probably won't find out.

 

Answer
Altering your transcript is an example of falsification. What you think may be undetectable may hurt you in the end, for example, when the employer decides to do a confirmation with the university. This can damage your future prospects on this career path, as what you thought was a small alteration can possibly lead to future employers not hiring you. Not only this, but there are other consequences with the university that you will have to deal with.

 

Instead, you could either talk to the employer to see if there are any areas you can make up for the poor grades, or work harder for the rest of school year to bring those grades up. Although grades are important, it is not always the only thing that employers look for in their employees.

Twin Test
It is the day before a test, and Tammy is stressed out about her section of the lab and asks Sammy, her twin sister, to take her position to perform it. Sammy is reluctant, but Tammy seems to have a good argument: "Who will know? It won't hurt anyone. Plus, it will just be this one time."

 

Answer
As much as Sammy looks like Tammy, they are not the same person. By performing the lab for Tammy, Sammy and her sister will both be sanctioned for falsification. As an alternative, Tammy could ask Sammy for help. For example, helping her review the night before may relieve her of the stress she is going through. Sammy should definitely not take the test in place of her sister.

 

Confronting Cheaters
Janine has just met a great guy and thinks she is really starting to fall for him. One day though in class, Janine sees her great guy cheating by stealthily using his cell phone. Janine knows this is wrong but is reluctant to turn him in, thinking it may ruin her relationship with him.

 

Answer
Witnessing breaches of academic integrity are difficult to deal with, especially if they concern someone you are in a close relationship with. Although you may be inclined to do nothing, consider your role as a student to create an honest and fair academic environment at the University. If you decide to confront him, make sure that you understand the University's policies and have sufficient evidence to prove that he was indeed cheating. You can also consider talking to your instructor, who can advise you on what further actions to take.

My Words, By Me
You’ve received the marks back for your final paper in a course. It is a lot lower than expected, and you notice a note from the TA saying that because you’ve self-plagiarized, they have lowered your mark. The final paper was a culmination of all your previous work in the course, and although everything was cited, it had similarity to some other course work you submitted. There were no specific guidelines given by the instructor not to reuse material so you’re not sure if you’ve actually done something wrong.

 

Answer
This could be an issue of self-plagiarism if the student reused their own specific words from previous texts. Self-plagiarism is any attempt to take your own work and use it in another context without citing that it was used previously There is another issue here. Students have the right to know what they are being accused of and the right to a meaningful response. A student needs to receive a written notice that there is an investigation of a possible departure from academic integrity underway. In addition, the primary instructor for the course should undertake the investigation of a possible act of plagiarism. Under no circumstances should issues of Academic Integrity be dealt with by a Teaching Assistant. The best practice is to clarify with the instructor about whether or not you may reuse content from previous work, and how stringent the citations should be. If a TA suspects an issue with Academic Integrity, they should notify the professor who will follow the proper avenues for dealing with such an issue.