Academic Misconduct Information for Faculty
Academic integrity is a core institutional principle that all Ohio State faculty should uphold and preserve. A commitment to academic integrity helps us foster a lifelong commitment to learning and affirms the role of teacher as guide and mentor. As such, faculty must clarify expectations for students, develop fair and creative forms of assessment, and respond appropriately to academic dishonesty when it occurs.
Five Easy Steps for Submitting Allegations of Academic Misconduct
1. If you suspect that a student has violated the University's Code of Student Conduct, the Council on Academic Misconduct recommends that you notify the student of your suspicions. (This notification is not mandatory!) This can be done via a personal, private conversation (a witness is recommended) or via e-mail.
2. If you suspect that a student has plagiarized an assignment, read Preparation of Evidence for Cases Involving Alleged Plagiarism.
3. Ask your department's chairperson (or other administrator as appropriate) to write a letter acknowledging that he/she is aware of the allegations against the student.
4. Accumulate the following documents:
- Completed reporting template
- Evidence supporting your allegation
- Chairperson's letter
- Course syllabus
5. Submit academic misconduct report using the Academic Misconduct Incident Reporting System
Ten Principles of Academic Integrity for Faculty
- Recognize and affirm academic integrity as a core institutional value.
- Foster a lifelong commitment to learning.
- Affirm the role of teacher as guide and mentor.
- Help students understand the potential of the Internet and how that potential can be lost if online resources are used for fraud, theft, and deception.
- Encourage student responsibility for academic integrity.
- Clarify expectations for students.
- Develop fair and creative forms of assessment.
- Reduce opportunities to engage in academic dishonesty.
- Respond to academic dishonesty when it occurs.
- Help define and support campus-wide academic integrity standards.
Source: SYNTHESIS: Law and Policy in Higher Education, 2005, 17(2):1201
Frequently Asked Questions
The university's Code of Student Conduct defines academic misconduct as "any activity that tends to compromise the academic integrity of the University, or subvert the educational process." While many people associate academic misconduct with "cheating," the term encompasses a wider scope of student behaviors which include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Violation of course rules;
- Violation of program regulations;
- Knowingly providing or receiving information during a course exam or program assignment;
- Possession and/or use of unauthorized materials during a course exam or program assignment;
- Knowingly providing or using assistance in the laboratory, on field work, or on a course assignment, unless such assistance has been authorized specifically by the course instructor or, where appropriate, a project/research supervisor;
- Submission of work not performed in a course: This includes (but is not limited to) instances where a student fabricates and/or falsifies data or information for a laboratory experiment (i.e., a "dry lab") or other academic assignment. It also includes instances where a student submits data or information (such as a lab report or term paper) from one course to satisfy the requirements of another course, unless submission of such work is permitted by the instructor of the course or supervisor of the research for which the work is being submitted;
- Submitting plagiarized work for a course/program assignment;
- Falsification, fabrication, or dishonesty in conducting or reporting laboratory (research) results;
- Serving as or asking another student to serve as a substitute (a "ringer") while taking an exam;
- Alteration of grades in an effort to change earned credit or a grade;
- Alteration and/or unauthorized use of university forms or records.
Cases of alleged academic misconduct are adjudicated through a formal hearing process by the Committee on Academic Misconduct (COAM), a standing committee of the University Senate. To insure a broad representation on the Committee, COAM draws its members from throughout the university's academic community: faculty (appointed by University Senate), graduate students (appointed by the Council of Graduate Students), and undergraduate students (appointed by Undergraduate Student Government).
One of the primary duties and responsibilities of the Committee on Academic Misconduct is to "investigate...all reported cases of student academic misconduct, with the exception of cases in a professional college having a published honor code, and decide upon suitable disciplinary action," and "instructors shall report all instances of alleged misconduct to the committee" (University Faculty Rule 3335-5-48.7[B1]). Aside from this rule, there are several additional reasons why faculty should report all instances of alleged misconduct to the Committee.
When a case of alleged academic misconduct is brought to the Committee:
- The case is resolved by an impartial hearing panel;
- The panel uses a consistent standard in reviewing alleged violations of the Code of Student Conduct;
- The panel uses a consistent standard when applying sanctions;
- The panel has the authority to determine if a student has a prior history of misconduct and to take this into consideration when sanctioning a student; and
- The panel has the authority to authorize grade sanctions for courses in which students have violated the Code of Student Conduct.
- The Committee has the authority to impose other sanctions as necessary to maintain the academic integrity of The Ohio State University.
The Committee on Academic Misconduct (COAM) recommends that every faculty member, instructor, and graduate teaching associate who is teaching a course prepare and distribute (or make available) to all students a course syllabus. (See also, "What steps can students take to avoid and instructors take to prevent academic misconduct?") Furthermore, COAM recommends that the course syllabus contain a statement concerning “academic misconduct” or “academic integrity.” The Ohio State University does not have a standardized statement on academic misconduct that instructors can use in their syllabi. Thus, COAM has prepared the following statement, which course instructors are free to use (with or without modification) for their syllabi.
Please note that this is a generic statement, which may or may not fit the needs of your course(s). Please read the following carefully before use and edit as necessary to fit your specific needs. If there are additional policies or guidelines that apply specifically to the course(s) that you teach, please include these policies and/or guidelines in your syllabus.
ACADEMIC INTEGRITY (ACADEMIC MISCONDUCT)
Academic integrity is essential to maintaining an environment that fosters excellence in teaching, research, and other educational and scholarly activities. Thus, The Ohio State University and the Committee on Academic Misconduct (COAM) expect that all students have read and understand the University’s Code of Student Conduct, and that all students will complete all academic and scholarly assignments with fairness and honesty. Students must recognize that failure to follow the rules and guidelines established in the University’s Code of Student Conduct and this syllabus may constitute “Academic Misconduct.”
The Ohio State University’s Code of Student Conduct (Section 3335-23-04) defines academic misconduct as: “Any activity that tends to compromise the academic integrity of the University, or subvert the educational process.” Examples of academic misconduct include (but are not limited to) plagiarism, collusion (unauthorized collaboration), copying the work of another student, and possession of unauthorized materials during an examination. Ignorance of the University’s Code of Student Conduct is never considered an “excuse” for academic misconduct, so I recommend that you review the Code of Student Conduct and, specifically, the sections dealing with academic misconduct.
If I suspect that a student has committed academic misconduct in this course, I am obligated by University Rules to report my suspicions to the Committee on Academic Misconduct. If COAM determines that you have violated the University’s Code of Student Conduct (i.e., committed academic misconduct), the sanctions for the misconduct could include a failing grade in this course and suspension or dismissal from the University.
If you have any questions about the above policy or what constitutes academic misconduct in this course, please contact me.
The Ohio State University represents a large and extremely diverse academic community. Faculty and students come from diverse academic, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds, and their interests cover hundreds of academic disciplines. Thus, it's not surprising to find that faculty and students often have different ideas of what types of student behavior constitute "cheating" and other types of academic misconduct, so the Committee on Academic Misconduct believes firmly in the proverb:
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
That is, faculty must be proactive in explaining and students must be proactive in understanding what types of behavior constitute academic misconduct in each course, laboratory, field setting, academic program/discipline, and/or other research or scholarly activity. Note that the onus rests with both faculty and students.
The following list includes some (but certainly not all) of the things a course/laboratory instructor, teaching associate, or project supervisor might do to increases students' awareness and understanding of academic misconduct:
- Read and follow the "Ten Principles of Academic Integrity for Faculty."
- Show the "Academic Misconduct and Plagiarism" videos in class.
- Provide in your course syllabus (or, as appropriate, other materials made available to students) a clear description of academic misconduct. In particular, tell students what types of behavior are and are not permissible in your course or on a particular assignment or type of activity. At the very least, instructors should remind students to review the section on academic misconduct in the University's Code of Student Conduct. (See also, "What kind of information about academic misconduct (academic integrity) should I include in my course syllabus?")
- Include in your syllabus (or tell students about) Ohio State University's Ten Suggestions for Preserving Academic Integrity and/or Northwestern University's Eight Cardinal Rules of Academic Integrity.
- For writing assignments, including master's theses and doctoral dissertations or other graduate-level documents, review with students the definition of plagiarism. If possible, provide students with explicit information regarding (1) the differences among quotations, paraphrasing, public domain, and their original thoughts, (2) what resources they can and can not use, and (3) how each of these resources should be cited in a writing assignment.
- The Internet provides students with a wealth of information; it also provides the Committee on Academic Misconduct with many cases of alleged plagiarism. Depending on the course you are teaching and the type of assignment, an extra warning about using the Internet might be warranted.
- If you receive any email messages requesting course information (e.g., examinations, keys to examinations, etc.), authenticate the message's source before sending the information. The Committee has seen several instances where students have established "bogus" email accounts and misrepresented themselves as instructors and/or TA's.
- In many courses or other assignments/projects, collaboration among students is permissible and expected. For those courses (or assignments) in which collaboration among students is permissible, faculty should explain carefully where acceptable collaboration ends and academic misconduct (collusion) begins.
- Administer examinations and quizzes in such a manner that minimizes the possibility of students copying from each other and/or using unauthorized materials. For example:
- Separate students during examinations. If necessary, schedule your examinations in a different room (a room with a larger capacity) from that where you normally hold class.
- Use multiple forms of the same test, making sure that adjacent students have different forms.
- Arrange for proctors to help you administer examinations and quizzes and monitor students' behavior during the examinations and quizzes.
- When administering an examination or quiz, count everything carefully, particularly the number of students taking the examination and the number of examinations turned in for grading.
- Photocopy examinations or answer sheets before returning them to students.
- In larger courses where you might not recognize all of the students, check students' ID's to verify their identifies.
- If you post information on the Internet, delete the files when they are no longer needed. Even if you remove the links to old files, the files might be found using a search engine.
- Supervisors of courses, assignments, and projects (whichever may apply) should make students aware of pertinent policies related to the use of intellectual property, copyright, and other relevant issues, as appropriate.
As noted above, students must also take a proactive role in preventing academic misconduct.
"Ignorance is no excuse."
If a student has any questions about what is or is not permissible in a course, an assignment, or other scholarly activity, he/she should ask the faculty member in charge of the course or the supervisor in charge of the activity! Students should also read Ohio State University's Ten Suggestions for Preserving Academic Integrity and Northwestern University's Eight Cardinal Rules of Academic Integrity.
If you suspect that a student is violating the Code of Student Conduct, you should take the following steps:
- Observe the student's behavior carefully and write down what you saw;
- If possible, have another person verify your observations, especially in a testing situation, and have this person write down what he/she saw;
- Collect any other information that might be relevant to the alleged academic misconduct, such as examinations, answer sheets, notes, or other materials;
- Include in your observations the date, location, and time of the alleged misconduct, as well as the student's name;
- If the faculty member teaching the course is not present when the alleged misconduct occurs, contact the faculty member immediately.
If possible, contact the student and make arrangements to meet with him/her. This meeting should be held in private, and a witness (e.g., another faculty member, a department/college administrator, a teaching associate, etc.) should be present. Explain to the student that you believe that he/she has violated the Code of Student Conduct, and explain the basis of your suspicion. For example, "I believe that you violated the Code of Student Conduct by altering your exam and turning it in for regrading." Tell the student that you are required by University Rules to report these allegations to the Committee on Academic Misconduct, and that the Committee will determine whether or not he/she has violated the Code of Student Conduct.
If the student wishes to comment on the allegations of academic misconduct during this meeting, he/she should be permitted to do so. You can include in your report to the Committee any comments that the student makes. However, the primary purpose of the meeting between you and the student is to inform the student of the allegation of academic misconduct; you should not interrogate the student.
The Committee on Academic Misconduct recommends that you inform a student of an allegation of academic misconduct before submitting the allegation to the Committee. However, the Committee also realizes that it is sometimes difficult to contact students, especially if the student has completed the course, project, or activity in which the misconduct allegedly occurred, so the meeting with a student is not mandatory. The Committee on Academic Misconduct will accept and adjudicate cases of alleged academic misconduct even if this preliminary meeting between student and instructor is not held.
In cases involving alleged academic misconduct by a graduate student, consultation with the chairperson of the student's graduate program and/or the Graduate School might be warranted prior to contacting the student or COAM.
Students often want to know how an allegation of academic misconduct will affect their enrollment or grade in a course. Thus, for allegations related to a course, you should tell the student that (1) he/she is permitted to continue in the course without prejudice and (2) his/her final grade will be determined after the allegations of academic misconduct are adjudicated.
If allegations of misconduct are made against a graduating senior (especially if it's late in the semester), the Committee on Academic Misconduct can facilitate the hearing process. Even if the allegations are made during the 14th (or final) week of the semester, the Committee can hear and resolve the case as soon as possible.
What do I send?
This depends on the nature of the alleged misconduct, but you should submit all original documents (e.g., examinations, answer sheets, lab reports, etc.) and a copy of the course syllabus to the Committee on Academic Misconduct. If the allegations include plagiarism, include a copy of the student's work and the work that you believe was plagiarized, and highlight the sections that you believe were plagiarized in both the original and the student's work. If the allegations include collaboration among students, submit the work of all of the students, and explain the basis of your allegation. If the allegations include possession and/or use of unauthorized materials, include the unauthorized materials.
When submitting this information, please remember that:
The members of a panel hearing a case of alleged academic misconduct may come from diverse academic disciplines. Thus, unless the nature of the allegation is clear, you should provide the panel members with a concise, written explanation of the reason(s) for the allegations of academic misconduct.
The materials that you send constitute the "evidence" the panel will consider in determining whether or not the student has violated to Code and the sanctions. Additional evidence may not be introduced during a hearing.
All cases submitted to the Committee on Academic Misconduct should be accompanied by a letter from the department chairperson or program director (or other appropriate administrative officer).
Where do I send these materials?
See the Five Easy Steps for Submitting Allegations of Academic Misconduct page for simple instructions on how to submit a report. When you are ready, submit an academic misconduct report using the Academic Misconduct Incident Reporting System.
The student should be allowed to continue in the course without prejudice. However, if the allegation of academic misconduct is not resolved before the end of the semester, you should report a final grade of "I" (incomplete) for the student. For the "alternate grade," you should report the grade the student would have received if he/she had not been accused of academic misconduct.
Once a case of alleged academic misconduct is received, the following series of events is set into motion:
- The Committee's Coordinator verifies that the allegations fall within the Committee's jurisdiction and determines the specific charges against the student (e.g., plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, use or attempted use of unauthorized material during an examination, etc.).
- The student is notified of the allegations of academic misconduct and the charges. The student is also notified that he/she has the right to review and/or obtain a copy of the information that lead to the allegations of academic misconduct.
- The student is invited to meet with the Committee's Coordinator to discuss the allegations and hearing process, and to ask any questions that he/she might have.
- All individuals scheduled for the hearing are notified of the hearing time and date.
- The hearing is held.
- The student is notified of the Committee's decision. If the student is found "in violation of the Code of Student Conduct," the student is notified of the sanction and the appeal process is explained.
When allegations of academic misconduct arise, a student often does not know or understand what he/she has allegedly done wrong. Since the Committee desires that the hearing process be an educational process, the Coordinator charges the student with violating the Code using terminology that explains the nature of the behavior that lead to the allegations. The information below includes most of the formal charges used by COAM when charging a student with academic misconduct. As the nature of some of the charges may not be clear to students or include several different types of dishonest behavior, some charges are described in more detail than others. If appropriate, the Coordinator of the Committee may develop charges other than those listed below to describe the allegations.
Plagiarism (submitting plagiarized work in fulfillment of an academic assignment): Plagiarism is the representation of another's work or ideas as one's own. It includes the unacknowledged verbatim use and/or paraphrasing of another person's work, and/or the inappropriate unacknowledged use of another person's ideas. For the purposes of academic misconduct, plagiarism of published resources (e.g., books, journals, etc.), the Internet, or other printed/electronic resources (e.g., course syllabi, instructors' manuals, etc.) is considered a violation of the University's Code of Student Conduct.
Alteration and resubmission of course materials in an attempt to change the earned grade or credit: This includes altering in any way a laboratory report, a writing assignment, an examination, a quiz, or any other course material after it has been graded and submitting it again for grading in an attempt to change the earned grade or score.
Forgery: This includes any instance where a student alters a University or other form (or record), or where a student produces and/or submits to a faculty member, instructor, teaching associate, or other University official a forged, counterfeited, or fraudulent form, document or other information. Examples of forgery include, but are not limited to:
Unauthorized alteration and/or use of any University or other type of form or document;
Counterfeiting or unauthorized copying of any University or other type of form or document;
Any action where a student attempts to misrepresent himself/herself as somebody else. This may take the form of:
- Forgery of a signature
- Establishing "bogus" email or other types of electronic messaging accounts or otherwise changing electronic messages in an attempt to misrepresent oneself;
- Acting as a substitute ("ringer") for another student during an examination or other course activity: The nature of this charge is self-explanatory.
Requesting that another student take your place during an examination or other course activity: The nature of this charge is self-explanatory.
Copying or attempting to copy the work of another student in an unauthorized manner and misrepresenting it or attempting to misrepresent it as one's own work: This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, one student copying or attempting to copy the work of another student, and it includes any form of copying (or attempting to copy), such as:
- One student copying or attempting to copy answers or information from another student during a test, quiz, or other course assignment;
- One student copying or attempting to copy another student's assignment with the intent of submitting it (or actually submitting it) as his/her own work;
- The type of information copied and the method used to copy the information are irrelevan.
- Unauthorized Collaboration/Collusion and the sharing of electronic files: This includes any instance where two or more students work together and/or share information (electronic files) in a manner that is unauthorized, deceitful, fraudulent, or in violation of course policy for completion of an assignment.
Possession and/or use of unauthorized materials during an examination or other course activity: The nature of this charge is self-explanatory.
Submission of work not performed in a course: This includes instances where a student fabricates and/or falsifies data or information for a laboratory experiment (i.e., a "dry lab") or other course assignment, or where a student submits data or information (such as a lab report) from a previous course to satisfy the requirements of the course in which he/she is enrolled currently.
Failure to comply with course/program policies and/or requirements (sharing of electronic files): This includes instances where a student fails to follow or otherwise subverts published policies and/or requirements for the course or program in which he/she is enrolled including, but not limited to, the sharing of electronic files to complete an assignment.
Engaging in activities that place other students at an unfair advantage, such as taking, hiding, or altering source material, altering source material, or manipulating a grading system. Examples of such dishonest conduct include, but are not limited to:
- Stealing reserved reading materials from the library;
- Stealing or altering the labels on laboratory (teaching or research) specimens;
- Stealing or altering the notes, laboratory reports, or other course assignments of another student.
The doctrine of fair use allows the limited use of copyrighted material for certain educational, scholarly and research purposes without the permission of the copyright owner. It applies to any copyrighted material regardless of source, including the Internet. If you photocopy a page from one of your textbooks or print a page from a copyrighted Internet site for certain educational, scholarly or research purposes, your actions may fall under the doctrine of fair use. The copyright laws give you permission to copy the work (with certain limitations), even though the owner of the copyright did not.
Plagiarism is "the representation of another's work or ideas as one's own; it includes the unacknowledged word-for-word use and/or paraphrasing of another person's work, and/or the inappropriate unacknowledged use of another person's ideas" (The Ohio State University Code of Student Conduct). This means that if you use another person's work when completing any academic assignment, regardless of whether or not it's copyrighted and regardless of whether it is paraphrased or a direct quotation, you must give that person appropriate credit (provide a citation and use quotation marks, if appropriate). If you use another person's work (intellectual property) and do not give that person credit, you are representing that person's work as your own.
Consider the following example:
Bill copied five pages of copyrighted information from an Internet site for his history term paper. When Bill pasted this information into his term paper, he did not use quotation marks and he did not include a citation. Bill was charged with plagiarism. During his hearing before the Committee on Academic Misconduct, Bill argued that what he did was acceptable under the doctrine of fair use and, therefore, he did not violate the University's Code of Student Conduct.
For purposes of copyright law, Bill's assertion regarding the doctrine of fair use may be correct. That is, the doctrine of fair use may allow him to copy and use copyrighted material in his academic assignments (with certain limitations) without committing copyright infringement. Moreover, the doctrine of fair use does not necessarily require Bill to use quotation marks or cite the source of the copied material.
However, Bill's assertion that he did not violate the University's Code of Student Conduct is incorrect. Because Bill did not use quotation marks and did not cite the source of his information, he passed this work off as his own. This is plagiarism. Even if Bill paraphrased the information that he copied (in which case quotation marks are not required) but did not cite it, it's still plagiarism. Thus, Bill did violate the University's Code of Student Conduct.
The procedures of the Committee are not as formal as those existing in a court of law, but they are designed to ensure fairness. Also, unlike decisions in a court of law, which must be based on evidence that is "beyond a reasonable doubt," decisions of the Committee are based on a "preponderance of the evidence." Students are presumed "not in violation of the Code," and, to ensure fairness, the panel will consider virtually any type of evidence that is submitted by the student or instructor as long as it is directly related to the allegations or charges at hand. In addition to the materials submitted by the instructor when the case is reported and any information provided by the instructor and/or student during the formal hearing, the Committee will consider:
- A written statement provided by the student at least two working days prior to the hearing; (see 'What can a student do to prepare for a hearing?')
- Statements provided by witnesses who attend the hearing;
- Written statements by potential witnesses who are unable to attend the hearing;
- Such statements must be authenticated in some manner (e.g., notarized or sent via a secure email account and must be germane to the allegations or charges at hand);
- Statements from individuals who are invited to the hearing by the panel or Coordinator and who have special expertise; and
- Other forms of evidence that the instructor and/or student believe might be appropriate as reviewed by the Coordinator.
- Supplemental materials presented at the hearing are subject to approval by the Chair of that day's hearing and time allowing.
The standard or level of proof required to find a student in violation of the Code of Student Conduct is a preponderance of the evidence. Known also as a balance of probabilities or "greater weight of the evidence," a preponderance of evidence is defined as follows: "The greater weight of the evidence required in a civil (non-criminal) lawsuit for the trier of fact (jury or judge without a jury) to decide in favor of one side or the other. This preponderance is based on the more convincing evidence and its probable truth or accuracy, and not on the amount of evidence. Thus, one clearly knowledgeable witness may provide a preponderance of evidence over a dozen witnesses with hazy testimony, or a signed agreement with definite terms may outweigh opinions or speculation about what the parties intended" (Law.com).
In addition to the student, the following individuals are scheduled to attend a hearing:
- The hearing panel, which consists of at least four (4) members of the Committee on Academic Misconduct. Of these four members, at least two must be faculty members and one must be a student. Only members of the hearing panel vote to determine if a student is "in violation of the Code of Student Conduct" and, if the student is found in violation, the sanction.
- An advisor or support person and/or any witnesses invited by the student;
- The person who reported the allegation of misconduct, most often a course instructor. Teaching associates, graders, lecturers, etc., who may have information about the alleged misconduct, are also invited;
- A representative from the student's college of enrollment;
- The Coordinator for the Committee on Academic Misconduct; and
- Any other individuals who might be able to provide information that will help the Committee reach its decision.
To insure that a student understands why he/she has been called before a panel of the Committee, a hearing always begins with the panel's chairperson informing the student that he/she has been accused of violating the Code of Student Conduct, as well as the specific charges against the student (e.g., plagiarism). The panel's chairperson asks the student if he/she has received written notification of the allegations, if the student understands the allegations, and if the student agrees or disagrees with the allegations.
The individual who reported the allegations of misconduct (usually the course instructor) presents his/her evidence, and the student is then given an opportunity to present his/her side of the story (including the presentation of any witnesses). Members of the panel then ask questions of the instructor and/or student in order to get a better understanding of the situation that resulted in the allegation. During this time, the student and instructor also may ask each other questions. When the panel members, student, and instructor have no more questions, the student is permitted to present a final statement before the panel considers the evidence. The student and instructor then leave the hearing room.
The members of the panel discuss the evidence presented by the student and instructor and determine if the student has violated the Code of Student Conduct. If the student is found "not in violation of the Code," he/she is invited immediately into the hearing room and informed of the panel's decision. If the student is found "in violation of the Code," the panel determines an appropriate sanction. The student is then brought into the hearing room, and the decision is read.
If the student agrees with the allegations of academic misconduct (i.e., admits to violating the Code of Student Conduct), he/she may elect to have the case resolved as an administrative decision. The student must waive his/her right to a panel hearing, and the case is resolved without a formal hearing. The student may submit a written statement explaining his/her view of the alleged incident, and a hearing officer (a member of COAM) assigns the sanction. If a student elects to have an administrative decision, the only basis for an appeal is that the sanction imposed is grossly disproportionate to the violation committed. Since a hearing is not held, administrative decisions can be made and the case can be resolved quickly.
If the Committee on Academic Misconduct determines that the allegations of academic misconduct are supported by a preponderance of the evidence, the student is found "in violation of the Code of Student Conduct," and the student is sanctioned. The sanction consists of two parts, a disciplinary sanction and a grade sanction.
Any student found "in violation of the Code of Student Conduct" receives a disciplinary sanction such as a letter of reprimand, disciplinary probation, suspension, or dismissal. The Committee views the hearing as an educational process, and in most cases it has no desire to interrupt an undergraduate student's academic progress. Thus, undergraduate students found "in violation of the Code of Student Conduct" for the first time typically receive a letter of reprimand or disciplinary probation. In cases where the violations of the Code are egregious or the student has previous violations of the Code of Student Conduct, the Committee may suspend or dismiss the student.
The Committee also authorizes a grade sanction to the course instructor. The severity of the grade sanction depends on the nature of the student's behavior and any mitigating or aggravating circumstances. The grade sanction can range from an authorization that the student receive a "0" on the assignment to an authorization that the student receive a final grade of "E" in a course.
If a student drops a course after being notified by the course instructor or the Committee on Academic Misconduct of allegations of academic misconduct, and the student is found subsequently to be "in violation" of the Code of Student Conduct and the authorized grade sanction is a failing grade (E, U, or NP) in the course, the student will be re-enrolled in the course in which the academic misconduct occurred and given a failing grade. This policy does not apply if (1) a student drops the course before he/she is notified of the allegations of academic misconduct or (2) a student drops the course after being notified of allegations of academic misconduct and the grade sanction is anything other than a failing grade in the course.
If the Committee on Academic Misconduct determines that the allegations of academic misconduct are not supported by a preponderance of the evidence, the student is found "not in violation of the Code of Student Conduct." In such cases, COAM maintains a permanent list of the names of students found "not in violation." However, all records pertaining to such a case are destroyed one year after the case has been resolved.
If a student is found "in violation of the Code of Student Conduct," the student may appeal the Committee's decision. The appeal process is described in the Code of Student Conduct (3335-23-18) and the Committee's Procedures and Rules (Section 11). Students are informed of the appeal process when they meet with the Committee's Coordinator, when the Committee's decision is read at the hearing, and in the letter that they receive after the hearing. A student may appeal the Committee's decision based only upon one or more of the following grounds:
- Procedural error;
- Misapplication or misinterpretation of the rule alleged to have been violated;
- Findings of facts not supported by a preponderance of the evidence;
- Discovery of substantial new facts that were unavailable at the time of the hearing; and
- That the sanction imposed is grossly disproportionate to the violation committed.
- If a student elects to have a case resolved in an administrative decision, the only basis for an appeal is that the sanction imposed is grossly disproportionate to the violation committed (see Section 5 of the Committee's Procedures and Rules).
Each student is limited to one appeal, and the decision of the appeal officer is final.
If a student is found "in violation of the Code of Student Conduct," the student is notified in writing of the panel's (hearing officer's) decision. To appeal this decision, a student must submit his/her appeal to the Executive Vice President and Provost of the University (Office of Academic Affairs) within 5 days of the date on the letter that notified him/her of the panel's (hearing officer's) decision. As noted in the previous FAQ, the student's appeal must be based on one or more specific criteria.
If a student appeals, there is not another hearing to resolve the appeal. Rather, the provost or his designated appeal officer in the Office of Academic Affairs reviews all of the information relative to the case and determines if the student's appeal has merit. This review process can take several weeks to complete. Once the officer in Academic Affairs makes his/her decision, the student is notified of the decision.
If the officer determines that the student's appeal does not have merit, then the panel's (hearing officer's) decision and the disciplinary and grade sanctions are not changed. If the officer in Academic Affairs determines that the student's appeal does have merit, then the Academic Affairs has several options depending on the basis of the appeal and the circumstances of the hearing. These options include (but are not necessarily limited to):
- Overturning the decision (verdict);
- Sending the case back to COAM for a new hearing;
- Modifying the disciplinary sanction;
- Modifying the grade sanction.
With the one exception noted in the following paragraph, allegations of academic misconduct are handled the same for students enrolled at the main (Columbus) and regional (ATI, Lima, Newark, Mansfield, Marion) campuses. Thus, virtually all of the information in these web pages applies to students regardless of the campus at which they are enrolled.
The one exception is the location of the panel hearing. If a student is enrolled at a regional campus and elects to have a panel hearing to resolve allegations of academic misconduct, the hearing will be scheduled for the regional campus at which the student is (was) enrolled. However, the student does have the option of having the hearing on the Columbus campus. If the student wants his/her hearing on the Columbus campus, the student must make this request in writing to the Coordinator of COAM, and the request must be made before the hearing is scheduled on the regional campus.
Under the University's and COAM's current rules and policies, cases involving undergraduate and graduate students are processed and resolved in the same way. If an undergraduate student is found "in violation" of the University's Code of Student Conduct, the student's enrollment college is not notified of the Committee's finding. If a graduate student is found "in violation," the Graduate School is notified of the nature of the violation and the sanction.
When students are found "not in violation of the Code of Student Conduct," COAM maintains a permanent list of such students' names. However, the Committee destroys all of its records that pertain to a case one year after the case is resolved.
If a student is found "in violation of the Code of Student Conduct," the Committee maintains records of the allegations and hearing according to its records retention policy. A record of the violation is also kept in the University's Office of Judicial Affairs. These records are confidential.
If a graduate student in found "in violation," the Graduate School is notified of the nature of the violation and the sanction imposed.
If the disciplinary sanction for violating the University's Code of Student Conduct is anything other than "dismissal," the University maintains a copy of a student's judicial records for 10 years. After 10 years, the student's judicial record is destroyed. If a student is "dismissed" from the University for academic misconduct, the University maintains a copy of the student's judicial record indefinitely.
As with all students' records at The Ohio State University, the Committee's records are confidential. The student may access these records, and the student may give permission for others to view these records. University personnel have access to these records on a "need to know" basis.