To minimize academic misconduct, it is important that every instructor include a clear statement on the course syllabus that provides an operational definition of academic misconduct, and states the grading penalties a student may receive if they are found responsible for academic misconduct.  Do not assume that students will already know about definitions and consequences, even if you are teaching an upper-level course.

Beyond statements in the syllabus, creating a conversation at the beginning of the course allowing instructors, teaching assistants and students to discuss forms of academic misconduct – and especially those that might apply in your course – will reinforce with students what to expect and how to practice academic integrity.  You may also wish to engage in one or more of the activities listed below to give students a chance to negotiate what is, and isn’t, academic misconduct.

Sample Academic Conduct Statement for course syllabi

Academic Integrity

At the University level, you must do your own scholarly work.  Presenting anyone else’s scholarly work (which can include written material, exam answers, graphics or other images, and even ideas) as your own, without proper attribution, is considered academic misconduct.

Plagiarism, cheating, and other misconduct are serious violations of the University of Washington Student Conduct Code (WAC 478‐120). We expect that you will know and follow the university’s policies on cheating and plagiarism. Any suspected cases of academic misconduct will be handled according to University of Washington regulations. For more information, see the College of the Environment Academic Misconduct Policy and the University of Washington Community Standards and Student Conduct website.

Detecting plagiarism

Try online tools like Turnitin

The UW has a site license for Turnitin, a web-based system that scans student work against websites and other student work available on the internet and looks for similarity.  Each paper gets a similarity score.  Instructors can click on the paper to determine which components of each paper are similar to components in other works.

Turnitin is now available through Canvas for instructors to set up plagiarism review on a per-assignment basis, and for students to submit assignments for review.

Tips for faculty for preventing academic misconduct

  • See the UW Office of Community and Standards and Student Conduct’s “Tips for preventing cheating” for strategies and suggestions for preventing cheating on exams, homework assignments, and final project assignments.
  • If the course is writing intensive, spend approximately 20-30 minutes in class at the beginning of the quarter to discuss plagiarism and examples of what it is. Try the sample activities on understanding plagiarism below to make the plagiarism discussion interactive (students are more likely to recall such an activity than to recall a policy statement on the syllabus).
  • Encourage students to use Turnitin to check their scores and proactively contact the instructor with concerns about their score.
  • Design assignments that make it nearly impossible to plagiarize (e.g., use data that students collect in class).
  • For longer writing assignments, assign students to complete gathering, distillation, and synthesis exercises.
  • Use assignment and grading rubrics that are explicit, e.g. within the assignment, exposition is worth 15%, your argument is worth 30%, etc.
  • For longer research projects, check in with students regularly. Consider asking students to answer a short reflective assignment such as “How are you doing with finding information in the library?” or “How’s it going synthesizing and putting sources into your own words?”
  • Require at least one handwritten assignment early in the quarter that students complete in class so you have something clearly in their own voice as a style reference for later assignments.

Sample activities on understanding plagiarism

For additional activities, exercises, and teaching resources on using sources appropriately to avoid plagiarism, see also the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL), sponsored by Purdue University.

Strategies for students to avoid academic misconduct

Students who plagiarize or cheat on assignments often do so because they are stressed and not budgeting enough time to learn and synthesize material and draft their own work. See below for campus resources for finding help, study centers, and tutoring.