Avoiding Academic Misconduct

Being accused of academic misconduct can be scary, whether or not the accusation is substantiated. We are here to help!

This page, along with our page on What to Expect When You are Accused of Academic Misconduct, should give you some information on avoiding academic misconduct altogether, as well as what you can expect when OSCCR reaches out to you regarding an allegation of academic misconduct.


Getting Started

The Academic Misconduct policies still apply to all GVSU coursework, even in an asynchronous learning environment. Because all students are still expected to understand and follow the academic misconduct policies, you should direct questions to your course instructors to clarify their expectations for collaboration and group work, as well as for the use of authorized vs. unauthorized sources and materials. Additional questions may always be directed to the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution (OSCCR). Please read over our Guide to Avoiding Academic Dishonesty (PDF) for more information.

The academic misconduct policies apply to everything you submit to a University employee as part of your progress toward a degree, including:

  • Drafts
  • Ungraded work
  • Proposals for unexecuted projects

Since GVSU's Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities sets general rules and your instructors add additional course-specific rules, you should read both the GVSU policies and your course materials carefully to be sure you understand what is and isn’t permitted. Always ask your course instructor in advance if you think something may be considered academic misconduct. Learning the rules up front is very important, so when in doubt, ask!

Image of GVSU's Allendale Campus Clock Tower


If You are Accused of Academic Misconduct

Being accused of academic misconduct can be scary, whether or not the accusation is substantiated.

Click the link below for a more comprehensive outline of what the student conduct process looks like when you're meeting with OSCCR staff:

What to Expect When You're Accused of Academic Misconduct


Past Violations

Avoiding Additional Violations:

Under the academic misconduct policies, restorative measures for second and subsequent violations (when responsibility is determined) are more severe. The third violation will typically results in suspension from the University. If you have a previous finding of responsibility for an academic misconduct violation, you should take careful steps to avoid additional alleged violations.

Some proactive steps you can take to avoid another violation are:

  • Reading the academic misconduct policies in the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities
  • Reading your course documents as soon as you get them so you have time to ask your instructors any questions you have about their policies
  • Reviewing the tips and pitfalls sections below to learn more about common missteps and how to avoid them
  • Completing your work in ways that are academically honest
  • Try and identify the academic, emotional, or other factors that contributed to your past violation(s) so that you can take steps to address them


Applications/Impact:

You may be asked about your academic honesty record on certain applications. Be sure to answer the questions honestly.

If you are applying to a professional program with a strong ethical and licensing component (such as law, medicine, and dentistry) and you encounter a question that appears to ask about academic misconduct but does not capture your violation, you can proactively contact the application source yourself or go to the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution to troubleshoot the best way to ask what the source would prefer in terms of disclosure. If you aren’t sure if a question applies to you, you can either ask the application source directly or contact OSCCR to ask on your behalf.

If you have general questions about how an academic misconduct violation will affect your graduate school, professional school, and job applications, please reach out to your Conflict Resolution Facilitator directly via email, or to Anthony T. Williams Jr. at osccr@gvsu.edu.


Tips

Exams:
Protect yourself from academic misconduct by following these tips.

In-course exams:

  • Make sure the instructor has approved using old exams to prepare for the test before you look at them.
  • Don't bring a backpack or other unnecessary bags to the exam. If you have a bag, set it far away from you.
  • Make sure all of your bags are zipped shut and that no loose papers can be seen or slide out from under your desk.
  • Set all of your materials on your desk before the exam starts. Don't reach down for pencils, calculators, etc.
  • Even if the instructor doesn't require it, sit far away from other students, or sit at the front of the classroom near the instructor.
  • Don’t talk to anyone other than the instructor or TAs, even about things not related to the exam.
  • If possible, do not bring your cell phone into the exam room. If you must have it with you, turn it off and keep it in a closed backpack or other bag.
  • Follow the instructor’s rules for bathroom breaks. Don’t bring your cell phone or any study materials with you during bathroom breaks.
  • Start studying early. Reviewing material during the semester will help you learn.
  • Consult your instructors about the best ways to prepare.

Online exams:

  • Be sure to look only at the computer screen while taking your exam.
  • If the online exam is being recorded, make sure to show your entire surroundings for the camera ahead of time.
  • Put your cell phone and other electronic devices across the room from you or in another room entirely.
  • Put away all other student materials unless the exam is intended to be open-note/open-book.


Papers:
Be sure to learn academic citation rules before turning in any assignment, even if they are drafts, proposals, or ungraded assignments.

  • Always cite everything that isn’t your idea, including:
    • Internet sources
    • Images and diagrams
    • Materials you changed into your own words
    • Course materials, discussions, and lectures (unless your instructor states otherwise in writing)
  • Learn a bit about citation from the University of Rochester's Writing and Citing Guide.
  • Always follow the citation method required for your discipline (MLA, APA, etc.) and ask your instructor if you aren't sure which to use.
  • If you had an idea but then found it in a source, don’t pretend that you never encountered the source; but don’t panic either. You can either mention and cite the source in the course of your argument but stress the differences in your account, you can go back and recast your argument slightly to make it distinct from the source’s, or reach out to your instructor for guidance on a slightly different direction for your paper.
  • If you want a friend to give feedback on your paper, or a friend wants you to give feedback, be sure to follow any rules that your instructor sets for collaboration and peer review.


Group Projects:
When you work in a group, every group member is responsible for the final product. Create group projects safely with these tips:

  • Be sure to read the instructor’s rules for how to structure the assigned work as soon as you receive the assignment.
  • Ask the instructor for clarification if you aren’t sure how to divide the work.
  • Once you understand your instructor’s rules, clearly define the responsibilities of each group member.
  • Start early and set deadlines before the due date so you can ensure your group project is on track and is being completed in an academically honest way.
  • If you are assigned to complete independent sections of a larger project, be sure that you are not collaborating if your instructor’s rules do not permit collaboration.
  • If you are assigned to complete a whole project as a collective group, be sure that you are checking the work produced by other students, since you will be responsible for any academically dishonest work done by your group members.


Collaboration:
Since the rules for collaboration can be different for every course and every assignment, be sure that you know exactly what your instructor permits before you work with other students.

  • Read your course and assignment materials carefully as soon as you get them. Ask your instructor if you do not see or do not understand the rules for collaboration.
  • If you don’t know your instructor’s rules for collaboration, you should always work independently until you can get specific information from your instructor.
  • You can be found responsible for violating the academic misconduct policies if you help others in ways that are not permitted; you are responsible for taking reasonable measures to keep your work to yourself.


Technology:
Be sure you know what kinds of technology your instructor permits and in what ways you are allowed to use it:

  • Don’t use translation software unless you are sure that your instructor permits it.
  • Don’t use computer code that you didn’t write unless you are sure that your instructor permits it.
  • Don’t leave your Blackboard account logged in on your devices.
  • If you find internet resources relevant to your studies, be sure to clear them as acceptable resources with your instructor before using them.

Pitfalls

Learn all the rules upfront and ask your instructor for clarification in advance.

  • Common associated pitfalls:
    • I didn’t intend to cheat.
    • I didn’t know I was violating the policy.
    • I didn’t understand the rules.
    • It was too late to ask the instructor to clarify the rules.
    • I assumed I knew what counted as cheating.
    • I assumed what I did was similar enough to what was permitted.
  • Solution:
    • Learn the rules upfront. Since the academic misconduct policies do not take intent into account, you are responsible for knowing and following GVSU's academic misconduct policies and your course policies.
    • Read both the academic misconduct policies and your course and assignment materials, since your instructors set course-specific rules in addition to the general rules set by GVSU.
    • Ask your course instructor if you think something you are considering doing might be academic misconduct before you do it.
    • Read over your course materials as soon as you get them so you can ask for clarification before assignments are due.
    • Ask your instructors about the rules for collaboration, group projects, and citation, which are always specific to the assignment or course.


Only submit academically honest work.

  • Common associated pitfalls:
    • I thought drafts don’t count.
    • I thought ungraded work doesn’t count.
    • I thought proposals don’t count.
    • This seemed like unimportant busywork.
    • I thought it was just a form.
  • Solution:
    • Only submit academically honest work, since the academic misconduct policies apply to everything you submit to a University employee as part of your progress toward a degree, including drafts, ungraded work, proposals for unexecuted projects, add/drop forms, exit exams, etc.


Ask for help.

  • Common associated pitfalls:
    • I ran out of time.
    • I was really struggling with this material.
    • I was studying more hours, but I wasn’t performing better.
    • I couldn’t get my team members to work together.
    • I didn’t understand citation.
    • I couldn’t find and/or organize sources.
    • I needed support for my disability.
    • I was worried or upset about my family or a loved one.
    • I was struggling with mental illness.
    • I was sick or injured.
    • I was assaulted or harassed.
    • I was hungry or homeless.
    • I was working too many hours.
  • Solution:
    • When you need help, ask. If you don’t know who to ask, start with a trusted University employee or your advisor. Even if that person doesn’t offer the kind of support you need, they can connect you to the right resources.


Academic misconduct is always the worst option.

  • Common associated pitfalls:
    • I thought I would lose my scholarship, my 4.0 GPA, or my place at the University.
    • I was going to fail anyway.
    • I knew I couldn’t do it without cheating.
    • Everyone else was cheating.
    • I didn’t think I would get caught.
    • I didn’t think cheating was a big deal.
  • Solution:
    • You always have a choice, and academic misconduct is always the worst choice. Not only do you face serious academic penalties and restorative measures through the student conduct process, but you also don’t learn your course material. You always have other options, including:
      • Asking your instructor for more time.
      • Turning in a partially-completed, honest assignment.
      • Taking a zero.
      • Dropping or withdrawing from a course.
      • Switching majors.
      • Asking your instructor for extra credit or changes to assignment weighting.
      • Getting help so you can perform better on the remaining assignments.

Resources