Subject: Academic Integrity
Group: Institutional
Approved by: Senate
Approval date: May 12, 2016
Effective date: September 6, 2016
Administered by: Provost and Vice-President, Academic & Research   

1 — INTRODUCTION
Mount Allison University is a community that encourages the individual growth of each student through development of personal values and integrity. Collectively, we endeavor to foster an atmosphere conducive to scholarship and the academic aims of the University, embracing core values of respect for the scholarly enterprise and a commitment to honesty.

1.1 Purpose
The Academic Integrity Policy provides members of the University community general guidelines for appropriate academic conduct and administration of this policy.

Acknowledgements:  The following institutions’ related policies and procedures provided background that assisted in the development of this policy: Brock University, Colby College, Dalhousie University, McMaster University, Middlebury College, Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, University of New Brunswick, University of Alberta, Wilfrid Laurier University. In particular, authors of Brock University’s and McMaster University’s policies have authorized adaptation of text from their policies.

1.2  Scope 
This policy applies to the academic activities of all students registered at Mount Allison in undergraduate or graduate studies, both on and off campus, including students registered in correspondence courses, in non-degree studies, and as visiting students attending on Letter of Permission or as an exchange student. This policy may also apply to individuals who have withdrawn or graduated but who were students at the time when it is alleged that academic misconduct occurred or who are alleged to have acted with academic misconduct to gain admission or registration.

1.3  Policy statement
All members of the University community are expected to conduct themselves in an ethical manner, demonstrating a commitment to academic integrity and inherent fundamental values of honesty, fairness, respect, including respectful disagreement, and responsibility. It is the policy of the University that academic misconduct will not be tolerated.

1.4 Related policies
The following are governed by codes of conduct or regulations and disciplinary procedures separate from this policy. Normally the areas listed below act independently of one another, however, in serious circumstances, more than one of these policies may apply. Decisions about the application of this policy or related policies shall be determined by the Academic Dean in conjunction with the administrator of the other policy or policies.

a) Policy 5202 — Policy on Research Integrity
b) Policy 410X — Non-Academic Code of Conduct (under development)
c) Policy 1006 — Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Policy
d) Policy 7001 — Terms & Conditions for Use of University Computing Accounts
e) Policy 7002 — Password Policy
f) Policy 7003 — Computer Network Usage Policy

1.5 Responsibilities

a) All members of the University community (i.e. students, faculty, and staff) are responsible for maintaining an atmosphere of academic integrity in all aspects of the academic enterprise.

b) Students have a responsibility to familiarize themselves with the University regulations and the conduct expected of them while studying at Mount Allison University.

c) Instructors are required to articulate clearly academic expectations in course outlines, including expectations regarding collaboration and group work, and are encouraged to use strategies that reduce opportunities for academic misconduct. For advice on strategies, instructors are encouraged to consult the Purdy Crawford Teaching Centre.

d) Any member of the University who has reason to believe that academic misconduct has occurred has a responsibility to report the matter promptly to the instructor of the course or, if the allegation does not involve a specific course or courses, to the appropriate Academic Dean. A teaching assistant or exam invigilator shall report to the Instructor of the course who will investigate and report the incident as per Appendix A, 7.2.1.

e) Authority to deal with academic matters under this policy rests with the Academic Dean assigned with this responsibility as the Academic Integrity Officer (AIO) by the Provost and VP Academic & Research.

f) All allegations of academic misconduct will be reported to the Academic Dean (AIO). It is the responsibility of the Academic Dean (AIO) to conduct the appropriate follow-up to ensure the implementation of educative action, academic penalties, or sanctions, if applicable.

g) Decisions taken by the Academic Dean (AIO) may be appealed to the Academic Appeals Committee.

1.6 Principles

a) The Academic Integrity Policy is intended to be educative and to be a guideline for appropriate behaviour. Consequences will be educative and developmental where possible. The primary intent is for students to self-discipline and the policy is used to support that perspective.

b) Confidentiality and Protection of Information.The University is bound by its policies regarding the confidentiality of student information and complies with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). In the administration of this policy, information, documentation, or evidence may be accessed by, submitted to and/or reviewed by members of the University community as a function of their position (e.g., Instructor, Department Head, Academic Dean, the Senate Academic Appeals Committee, Registrar, etc.) Every member of the University community shall respect and maintain the University’s obligation to protect the right to confidentiality and the privacy of its students, faculty, and staff.

c) Communication will be via the e-mail address assigned by the University as per academic regulation 10.1.  

1.7 Policy review
After an initial review within one year from the date of its approval, this policy and associated procedures will be reviewed every five years, or more frequently when relevant changes otherwise warrant an update, to maintain this policy’s currency and relevance. In the case of a discrepancy between this policy and the Mount Allison Academic Calendar the calendar prevails.

2 — DEFINITIONS
Academic integrity refers to ethical standards and a commitment to values of honesty, respect, and responsibility in academic work.

Academic misconduct refers to any act or behaviour, whether intentional or unintentional, that contravenes the ethical standards and values of honesty in academic work. 

The “Academic Dean (AIO)” refers to the Academic Dean with authority as designated Academic Integrity Officer to deal with academic matters under this policy.

The “Chair” refers to the Chair of the Academic Appeals Committee.

The “relevant authority” refers to the Instructor, the Academic Dean (AIO), or the Academic Appeals Committee.

An “Advisor” may be any member of the University community such as a MASU representative, Chaplain, Counselling Services, the Meighen Centre, and the Student Life Office.

Educative Action refers to an outcome imposed by an Instructor or Academic Dean (AIO) for academic misconduct that has been determined to reflect an infraction that may be attributed to lack of understanding.  Educative action may include but is not limited to: re-writing of the assignment; participation in an educational or remedial academic activity.

Academic Penalty refers to an outcome imposed by an Instructor for academic misconduct that has been determined to reflect a serious infraction. An academic penalty may include but is not limited to: lower grade or failure on the assignment or test; failure in the course.

Academic Sanction refers to an outcome imposed by the Academic Dean (AIO) or the Academic Appeals Committee for academic misconduct. Academic sanctions include disciplinary probation, suspension, dismissal, or expulsion, which will be recorded on the transcript.

“Calendar days” are used in this policy to establish timelines and are intended as guidelines.  In some instances those timelines may require flexibility depending on the circumstances.

3 — ACADEMIC MISCONDUCT

3.1 Academic misconduct offences
Examples of academic misconduct include but are not limited to the following:

a) Plagiarism or misrepresenting someone else’s work, whether ideas, words, creative works, published or unpublished, as your own.

b) Submitting work you’ve already received academic credit for, or that you are already submitting for another course, without written permission from your Instructor(s)

c) Falsifying results in lab experiments, field exercises, or other assignments

d) Copying someone else’s work on assignments, tests, or exams

e) Use of unauthorized aid or assistance in tests or exams

f) Collaborating on assignments that were designated by the Instructor as individual work

g) Impersonating another student, or knowingly allowing someone to impersonate you, in an assignment, test, or exam

h) Using someone else’s computer account or using your computer account for unauthorized purposes

i) Interfering with or damaging someone else’s academic work including their access to campus resources

j) Obtaining, viewing, or sharing information about an assignment, test, or exam

k) Knowingly helping someone else engage in academically dishonest behavior

l) Submitting false information or false medical documentation or misrepresenting personal circumstances to postpone or gain an advantage for any academic work

m) Tampering with academic transcripts or records and/or submitting false credentials

n) Any other form of misrepresentation, cheating, fraudulent academic behavior, or other improper academic conduct of comparable severity

See Appendix C for more detailed explanations of academic misconduct.

3.2 Determination of offences and outcomes  

a) Academic misconduct may be alleged by a course Instructor with respect to a course or courses taught by him/her. A determination of academic misconduct shall be based on a discussion between the student and the Instructor, in person if possible, including a review of the evidence.

b) If academic misconduct has been determined, the Instructor may impose an educative action (e.g. for instances that could be attributed to lack of understanding of appropriate citation) or an academic penalty (e.g. for instances that reflect a serious breach of academic integrity). 

c) The Instructor will report the allegation and the outcome, whether educative action or academic penalty, to the Department Head, the Academic Dean (AIO), and the Registrar, using the Report of Academic Misconduct form. 

d) Academic misconduct may be alleged by a member (or members) of the university community other than a course Instructor (e.g. invigilators in examinations, other students, Computing Services staff, etc.). If the allegation involves a course it will be referred to the course Instructor, who will follow procedures as above and as outlined in Appendix A, Section 7- Procedures for a Report of Academic Misconduct.

e) If the allegation does not involve a specific course or courses, it will be referred to the Academic Dean (AIO), who will follow procedures as outlined in Appendix A, Section 7.

f) Students who wish to dispute the allegation or the severity of the academic penalty imposed by the Instructor may appeal to the Academic Dean (AIO).  

g) If the student’s record (housed in the Registrar’s office) shows a previous report of academic misconduct, the Academic Dean (AIO) may impose additional sanctions. 

h) All decisions of the Academic Dean (AIO) may be appealed to the Academic Appeals Committee (under the conditions outlined in Section 6).

i) Students must be advised of resources for support and their right to appeal decisions.   Resources to advise students include any member of the University community such as: a MASU representative, Chaplain, Counselling Services, the Meighen Centre, and the Student Life Office.

4 — ACADEMIC PENALTIES AND SANCTIONS

a) In each case in which it has been determined that there has been academic misconduct, the relevant authority will determine and impose appropriate educative actions (Instructors, Academic Dean (AIO)), academic penalties (Instructors), or academic sanctions (Academic Dean (AIO) or the Academic Appeals Committee).

b) The circumstances surrounding each case of misconduct may vary to a significant degree. The educative action, penalty, or sanction imposed should reflect these circumstances.

c) or the benefit of the student an explanation will be provided in writing, with the major reasons(s) the educative action, penalty, or sanction imposed was deemed warranted.

d) In each case the relevant authority shall exercise discretion, taking into consideration the relevant factors as outlined below. Factors to be considered when imposing an educative action, academic penalty, or academic sanction include, but are not limited to:

  • the severity of the offence, including its impact on others (students, faculty or staff, members of the community);
  • relative weight of the assignment;
  • the student’s year of study;
  • whether the student admits guilt, accepts responsibility, and is amenable to  educative remedies;
  • extenuating circumstances that may help explain the action taken by a student;
  • any aggravating factors;
  • any record of previous offences (Academic Dean (AIO) and Academic Appeals Committee only; Instructors should base their decision on the allegation under consideration)

e) The following educative actions, academic penalties, or sanctions may be imposed:

i) Educative Actions (may be imposed by Instructors or Academic Dean (AIO)), such as:

  • re-writing of the assignment;
  • letter of reprimand  and requirement to participate in an educational or remedial academic activity;

ii) Academic Penalties (may be imposed by Instructors), such as:

  • lower grade or failure on the assignment, test, or exam;
  • failure in the course.

iii) Academic Sanctions (may be imposed by the Academic Dean (AIO) * or Academic Appeals Committee)

  • rescinding of an offer of admission
  • disciplinary probation, suspension*, dismissal* or expulsion* which will be recorded on the transcript
  • revocation of degree*, diploma*, certificate or course credit*  

*decision requires consultation with the Senate Academic Integrity Committee.

NOTES:

  • “Being an accessory” equates to “committing the offence”.
  • Disciplinary suspension refers to a term up to three years, disciplinary dismissal is for three years, expulsion is permanent.
  • Disciplinary suspension or dismissal for academic misconduct means complete withdrawal from the University for the specified period. This means that students may not attend classes, do presentations or submit tests, essays or assignments of any sort, whether online, on paper or other medium, nor may they receive credit for courses taken elsewhere during the period of suspension or dismissal.  
  • The terms of suspension or dismissal are effective until such time as the student applies for and is offered re-admission to the University.

5 — REPORTING

a) At the conclusion of an investigation, the person investigating will advise the student in writing of the determination. Normally, the person who reported the incident will be advised that the matter has been dealt with.

b) Correspondence relating to an allegation and documentary evidence from the investigation is kept on file until the time has elapsed for further appeal and may form part of the relevant authority’s official file for University purposes.

c) Any time an academic penalty or academic sanction has been imposed, the records and notes of the relevant authority shall be kept and may have a bearing on an academic sanction imposed in a future case. 

d) For all cases, records of reports and decisions pertaining to academic misconduct shall be retained permanently on file by the Registrar, separate from the students’ individual academic record, unless it is concluded that there has been no misconduct, or that there is insufficient evidence to support the allegation.  In cases where there has been no misconduct or insufficient evidence to support an allegation, records related to the investigation will not be forwarded to the Registrar, although the relevant authority shall maintain official records for University purposes.  In cases where it has been concluded that misconduct did occur records related to the investigation will be kept on file by the relevant authority until one year after graduation.

e) Disciplinary probation, suspension, dismissal and expulsion will be recorded on students’ transcripts. Except in cases of expulsion, one year after the expiry of the sanction the student may make a written request to the Registrar to have the notation of the offence removed from the transcript.

f) The Academic Dean (AIO) will prepare an annual report based on anonymous aggregate data, to be submitted for information to Senate.

6 — APPEALS

a) An appeal may be launched by the accused student or by the student, Instructor, or other member of the university community originating the initial allegation.

b) Normally, an appeal is valid only if it has been filed with the Chair of the Academic Appeals Committee within five calendar days of the communication of a decision.

c) An exception to the normal five calendar day limitation on filing appeals can be made for appeals based on availability of new evidence. These appeals may be filed within a time limit deemed reasonable by the Chair of the Academic Appeals Committee based on the validity of the reason for the delay in new facts coming to light and based on the strength of the new facts which have come to light.

d) An appeal must be in writing, and specify the grounds on which the appeal is based.

e) Appeals will be considered on the following grounds:

  • i) the initial authority had no right to make the decision it made;
  • ii) the initial authority was biased;
  • iii) the initial authority did not allow the accused student the opportunity to respond to all the aspects of the case against him or her;
  • iv) since the initial decision, new facts have come to light which are relevant.  New facts must be documented within the appeal request;
  • v) the initial authority’s decision was patently unreasonable (the basis of which must be included in the appeal request);
  • vi) the initial authority made an error in interpreting a regulation. Such error must be outlined in the request for appeal;
  • vii) the severity of the sanction was not appropriate.

f) The Chair of the Academic Appeals committee will review the letter of appeal and relevant written documentation, and, in consultation with the Academic Appeals Committee, make a decision to:

  • i) allow for limited rehearing* if newly discovered factual material or procedural error is found (It is the responsibility of the Chair to determine which aspects of the case merit a rehearing, and to direct the Appeals Committee accordingly.);
  • ii) allow for limited rehearing*, consisting of review of the  written materials submitted, if significant new mitigating circumstances are present;
  • iii) deny the appeal.

*The appeals process would not be a ‘de novo’ hearing but a limited rehearing of relevant evidence as determined by the Chair based on the grounds for appeal

g) Decisions of the Committee will be communicated by the Chair, in writing, to the person appealing and reasons for the denial (if applicable) will be stated.  If a limited rehearing is deemed necessary, a time for that hearing will be set so that it occurs as soon as possible and allows for adequate notice to all parties.

h) If the Committee determines that an appeal should be considered based on any one or more of the grounds above, the report and any documentation from the original investigative process will be provided to the Academic Appeals Committee. A limited rehearing of the case by the Appeals Committee may be required.  

i) The Academic Appeals Committee will review the decision of the initial authority and, as appropriate, impose, revise, or remove sanctions. Students are advised that more severe penalties may be imposed as a result of an appeal.

j) While an appeal is pending, suspension from access to academic services will not be in effect until after the appeal decision has been made.

  • a) In cases where there is a limited re-hearing by the Academic Appeals Committee, students have the right to have an advisor present at the hearing.  Advisors may be members of the University community. (refer to the definition of an ‘Advisor’ in section 2. Students must inform the Chair of the Academic Appeals Committee in writing at least three calendar days prior to the appeals hearing if they plan to bring an advisor.  

k) The decision on whether a hearing is open or closed rests with the Chair of the Committee.  Normally the hearing will be closed if the accused student, or the person originating the initial allegation, or the initial authority that rendered a decision requests that it be closed.

l) Witnesses will not be called at a re-hearing by the Academic Appeals Committee.  Where required, records of witness testimony from the original investigative process will be reviewed by the committee.