Florida State University is a proud member of the Center for Academic Integrity.
The Academic Honor Policy (pdf)* is an integral part of the FSU academic environment. The policy outlines the University’s expectations for students’ academic work, the procedures for resolving alleged violations of those expectations, and the rights and responsibilities of students and faculty throughout the process. New students are introduced to the Academic Honor Policy at Orientation and pledge to uphold it at New Student Convocation. In surveys, students have indicated that the strength of an individual instructor’s message about the importance of academic integrity is the strongest deterrent to violating the Academic Honor Policy. Thus, instructors should remind students of their obligations under the policy and fully communicate their expectations to students. If an instructor encounters academic dishonesty, he/she should follow detailed procedures to resolve the alleged violation in a timely manner while protecting the personal and educational rights of the student.
Instructors are responsible for reinforcing the importance of the Academic Honor Policy in their courses and for clarifying their expectations regarding collaboration and multiple submission of academic work.
- PLAGIARISM. Presenting the work of another as one's own (i.e., without proper acknowledgement of the source).
Typical Examples Include: Using another's work from print, web, or other sources without acknowledging the source; quoting from a source without citation; using facts, figures, graphs, charts, or information without acknowledgement of the source; utilizing ghostwriting or pay-for-paper services; submitting another’s work through online thesaurus software.
- CHEATING. Improper access to or use of any information or material that is not specifically condoned by the instructor for use in the academic exercise.
Typical Examples Include: Copying from another student's work or receiving unauthorized assistance during a quiz, test, or examination; using books, notes or other devices (e.g., calculators, cell phones, or computers) when these are not authorized; procuring without authorization a copy of or information about an examination before the scheduled exercise; unauthorized collaboration on exams. This includes unauthorized actions taken on any social media platform.
- UNAUTHORIZED GROUP WORK. Unauthorized collaborating.
Typical Examples Include: Working with another person or persons on any activity that is intended to be individual work, where such collaboration has not been specifically authorized by the instructor. This includes unauthorized actions taken on any social media platform.
- FABRICATION, FALSIFICATION, AND MISREPRESENTATION. Unauthorized altering or inventing of any information or citation that affects grades given for academic work or attendance.
Typical Examples Include: Inventing or counterfeiting data or information; falsely citing the source of information; altering the record of or reporting false information about practicum or clinical experiences; altering grade reports or other academic records; submitting a false excuse for a class absence or tardiness in a scheduled academic exercise; lying to an instructor to increase a grade.
- MULTIPLE SUBMISSION. Submitting the same academic work (including oral presentations) for credit more than once without instructor permission. It is each instructor’s responsibility to make expectations regarding whether students may incorporate existing work into new assignments clear in writing.
Typical Examples Include: Submitting the same paper for credit in two courses without instructor permission; making minor revisions in a credited paper or report (including oral presentations) and submitting it again as if it were new work.
- ABUSE OF ACADEMIC MATERIALS. Intentionally damaging, destroying, stealing, or making inaccessible library or other academic resource material.
Typical Examples Include: Stealing or destroying library or reference materials needed for common academic purposes; hiding resource materials so others may not use them; destroying computer programs or files needed in academic work; stealing, altering, or intentionally damaging another student's notes or laboratory experiments. (This refers only to abuse as related to an academic issue.)
- COMPLICITY IN ACADEMIC DISHONESTY. Intentionally helping another commit an act of academic dishonesty.
Typical Examples Include: Knowingly allowing another to copy from one's paper during an examination or test; distributing test questions or substantive information about the material to be tested before a scheduled exercise; deliberately furnishing false information.
Academic Honor Process
This section outlines the Academic Honor Process. Also refer to the Academic Honor Policy for specifications of each process.
To actively engage students and faculty in preventing academic dishonesty.
To sanction appropriately those who violate the policy and deter second offenses.
Authority and Responsibility
Instructors have authority to enter into Step 1 agreements with students who have no prior record of academic dishonesty.
Teaching Assistants may enter into Step 1 agreements with approval from supervising faculty.
Department chairs and deans are responsible for ensuring that the policy is being followed in their units.
Academic Administration is responsible for campus-wide implementation of the policy and support for faculty.
Student Affairs Administration is responsible for helping students understand their rights within the process.
Common Pitfalls and Misconceptions
Instructors sometimes fail to warn students about unauthorized collaboration, especially within online platforms, and students often do not view collaboration as a violation.
Instructor lack of knowledge regarding the process or unwillingness to go forward sometimes keeps cases from being pursued.
Allegations are handled outside the process and are never documented as Step 1 agreements. Thus, they do not create official prior records and result in grade changes that have no basis in policy.
Notification to the Department of Student Affairs
When an instructor believes that a student has violated the Academic Honor Policy in one of the instructor’s classes, the instructor must first contact the Department of Student Affairs to discover whether the student has a prior record of academic dishonesty in order to determine whether to proceed with a Step 1 agreement or an Academic Honor Policy Hearing. The instructor must also inform the department chair or dean.
Students have the following important due process rights and additional prerogatives:
- Be informed of all alleged violation(s), to receive the complaint in writing (except in a Step 1 agreement where the agreement serves as notice) and to be given access to all relevant materials pertaining to the case.
- Receive an impartial hearing in a timely manner where the student will be given a full opportunity to present information pertaining to the case.
- When possible, discuss the allegations with the instructor.
- Privacy, confidentiality, and personal security.
- Be assisted by an advisor who may accompany the student throughout the process but may not speak on the student’s behalf.
- Choose not to answer any question that might be incriminating.
- Contest the sanctions of a Step 1 agreement and to appeal both the decision and sanctions of an Academic Honor Hearing.
The student has the right to continue in the course in question during the entire process. Once a student has received notice that they are being charged with an alleged violation of the Academic Honor Policy, or when a student has been found “responsible” for an Academic Honor Policy violation, the student is not permitted to withdraw or drop the course. Should no final determination be made before the end of the term, the grade of “Incomplete” will be assigned until a decision is made.
Throughout the Student-Instructor Resolution, the instructor has the responsibility to address academic honor allegations in a timely manner, and the student has the responsibility to respond to those allegations in a timely manner. If pursuing a Student-Instructor Resolution is determined to be possible, the instructor shall discuss the evidence of academic dishonesty with the student and explore the possibility of a Student-Instructor Resolution.
Four possible outcomes of this discussion may occur:
- If the charge appears unsubstantiated, the instructor will drop the charge, destroy the documentation, and no record of academic dishonesty will be created.
- The student may accept responsibility for the violation and accept the academic sanction proposed by the instructor. The agreement involving the academic penalty must be put in writing and signed by both parties on the Student-Instructor Resolution, which must then be sent to the Director of Student Affairs.
- The student may accept responsibility for the violation but contest the proposed academic sanction. In this circumstance, the instructor must submit the Disputing the Sanction form along with supporting documentation to the Director of Student Affairs. The student’s written statement must demonstrate specific reasons why the student believes that the proposed sanction is extraordinarily disproportionate to the offense committed for any modification of the sanction to be considered.
- For cases in which the student denies responsibility and after receiving a Hearing Referral, the Director of Student Affairs will assess the case to determine whether it could be suitable for Administrative Case Resolution rather than the hearing process.
Administrative Case Resolution
Administrative Resolution cases will be straightforward cases that do not require extensive additional information, explanation, or evidence beyond what is contained in the charge letter and documentation provided by the instructor. These cases would also not reasonably result in serious sanctions, such as suspension or expulsion, if the student were to be found responsible. If the Director of Student Affairs determines that the case is eligible for Administrative Case Resolution, the administrator will ask the instructor if they have any objection to the case being resolved by the student meeting with an academic administrator from FDA in lieu of a hearing. If the instructor does not object, the student will have the option to meet with the Director of Student Affairs to discuss the case and attempt to resolve it. If it is possible to resolve in this manner, the administrator will determine whether to find the student “responsible” or “not responsible” for the allegation(s) based on a preponderance of evidence standard, as well as what sanctions to impose, if appropriate. In certain cases when a second allegation against a student meets the criteria above, especially if the student admits responsibility for the alleged violation, an Administrative Case Resolution may be appropriate. A finding of “responsible” creates a formal record that is subject to the conditions described in the Records section. Any grade imposed as the result of an academic sanction will remain on the student’s transcript indefinitely and will not be eligible for a course drop, withdrawal, or modification of grading basis, including changing the grading basis to “Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory.”
The student may deny responsibility for the alleged violation, making a hearing the appropriate resolution procedure. In this circumstance, the instructor submits the Academic Honor Policy Hearing Referral form along with supporting documentation to Director of Student Affairs in preparation for an Academic Honor Policy Hearing.
The Academic Honor Policy affords all students involved in the University conduct process the right to an advisor (see section (7)(c)3). An advisor can be a friend, family member, faculty member, attorney, or anyone a student chooses. Regardless of who a student chooses to advise them, the advisor cannot speak for a student in the hearing unless authorized by the hearing body. Students will need to complete and submit the Advisor Request form to the Associate Dean of Faculty & Administrative Affairs two (2) class days prior to their hearing in order for an advisor to be present at the hearing.
The student or hearing committee may call appropriate witnesses to provide information relevant to the alleged violations in a formal hearing.
Student & Instructor Resolution and Administrative Case Resolution Sanctions
The following sanctions are available in the Student & Instructor Resolution and Administrative Case Resolution procedures and may be imposed singly or in combination. The instructor should consider the seriousness of the violation, the student’s circumstances, potential opportunities for learning, and consistency with past sanctions in determining a proposed sanction.
- Additional academic work, including re-doing the assignment
- A reduced grade (including “0” or “F”) for the assignment
- A reduced grade (including “F”) for the course
- Educational activities. Examples include, but are not limited to, referrals to improve future educational outcomes, tutoring regarding proper citation practices, development of an academic plan with the assistance of the Academic Center for Excellence, participation in ethics workshops, interviews with appropriate faculty or administrators, or writing educational or reflective essays. Fees may be charged to cover the ethics workshops. Please contact an FDA Administrator before implementing educational sanctions.
Academic Honor Policy Hearing Sanctions
The following sanctions are available in the Academic Honor Policy Hearing process and may be imposed singly or in combination:
- Additional academic work, including re-doing the assignment
- A reduced grade (including “0” or “F”) for the assignment
- A reduced grade (including “F”) for the course
- Educational activities. Examples include, but are not limited to, referrals to improve future educational outcomes, tutoring regarding proper citation practices, development of an academic plan with the assistance of the Academic Center for Excellence, participation in ethics workshops, interviews with appropriate faculty or administrators, writing educational or reflective essays. Fees may be charged to cover the cost of educational activities.
- Restitution, letter of accountability, or other restorative acts.
- Disciplinary Probation – a period of time during which any further violation of the Academic Honor Policy puts the student’s status with the University in jeopardy. If the student is found “responsible” for another violation during the period of Disciplinary Probation, serious consideration will be given to imposing a sanction of Suspension, Dismissal, or Expulsion. Restrictions that may be placed on the student’s activities during this time period include but are not limited to: participating in student activities; representing the University on athletic teams or in other leadership positions; and participating in practice for athletic or other competitions.
- Suspension – Separation from the University for a specified period, not to exceed two years.
- Expulsion – Separation from the University without the possibility of readmission. Expulsion is noted on the student transcript.
- Withholding of diplomas, transcripts, or other records for a specified period of time.
- Suspension of degree, in cases where an offense is discovered after the degree is posted.
- Revocation of degree, in cases where an offense is discovered after the degree is posted.
Upon conclusion of the hearing, the hearing body will make a determination of “responsible” or “not responsible” for each alleged violation. If a decision of responsible is reached, the hearing body will craft a set of educational outcomes for the student to complete in order to fulfill the honor process. These outcomes will be detailed in the decision letter along with a deadline for completion.
Decisions of the Academic Honor Policy Hearing Panel may be appealed provided one or more reasons listed in “Appeals” is relevant to the case. On appeal, the burden of proof shifts to the student to prove that an error has occurred. The student should file a written letter of appeal to the Associate Dean of Faculty & Administrative Affairs within 10 class days after being notified of the Academic Honor Policy Hearing Panel decision.
Documents and Forms
- Academic Honor Policy
- Academic Honor Policy Quick Reference Guide
- Flowchart of Academic Honor Policy Process
- Student-Instructor Resolution
- Hearing Referral Form
- Facebook and Cheating
- Unauthorized Collaboration on Facebook
- Sample Academic Honor Policy Statement for Syllabi
- Advice from Students to Faculty
- “A Letter to My Students”
- Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act
- Academic Integrity Survey
- Summary of Academic Integrity Survey Data
- Religious Holy Days
LaToya Stackhouse, Ed.D.
Director of Student Affairs
Florida State University Panama City
4750 Collegiate Drive, Panama City, FL 32405