Faculty are key partners in the academic integrity proposition. The university (and indeed the majority of students, who are honest in their academic efforts) count on faculty to enforce the rules and expectations of integrity, and to report violations when detected. We are only as good as our social contract, and in fact our institutional reputation depends on faculty "holding the line" on academic integrity.
Thus, while it may not also be the easiest conversation to hold, faculty, adjuncts, and graduate assistants are expected to hold students accountable when they have determined that academic integrity has been violated.
The official Regulation governing academic integrity can be found here. However, most faculty find this flowchart a useful starting point in determining how to proceed when academic integrity has been violated.
If you have questions about how to proceed, or want to investigate a finer point of the policy, contact us with details about your question (select "academic integrity" as the category of your question).
To Sanction or Not to Sanction
Faculty have complete control over assigning student grades, and as such may exercise their judgment in making grading decisions in response to academic misconduct, plagiarism, or cheating. The official reporting to the University of academic misconduct, however, goes beyond A-through-F grading, in the form of a special "FF" grade submitted to the Registrar's Office. An FF grade remains on the student transcript, even if the class is retaken, as a marker of academic misconduct. Faculty exercise their own discretion on when to assign an FF grade to a student.
When it comes to deciding how to proceed in the event of academic misconduct, faculty are 100% in the driver's seat. They have several options open to them:
- Take no official action. It is within faculty rights to decide to "handle it locally" and neither report the student nor apply the grade sanction advised within the official Regulation. However, this creates the risk that faculty have let a student off the hook who has done this before. At a minimum, faculty are requested to use the REPORT STUDENTS button in Canvas
- Apply a lower sanction. Sometimes faculty "cut the students a break" by applying a lower sanction than is suggested in the official Regulation.
- Apply the recommended sanction. This is the University's official position; faculty should apply the sanction as they best determine fits the "infraction level" of the official Regulation. Note: the sanction may (but is not required to) include an FF grade, or just a penalty/sanction within the established grading structure of the course. In rare cases, sometimes faculty may opt for a finding of an integrity violation but not grade sanction at all!
Faculty are asked to report ALL instances of student academic misconduct for centralized record-keeping. This takes place via the "Refer Students" button inside Canvas.
Faculty must report the incident and its details when there will be an FF grade issued (indeed, this report is HOW the FF grade is administered), but should also use this report form for incidents with sanctions below an FF grade for the purposes of centralized tracking. If a student were to repeat offenses across classes, for example, this method of reporting would notice the repeat behavior.
Standards of evidence
There are not published minimum thresholds of evidence for any kind of plagiarism or cheating. The reason is that definitions and boundaries may vary by discipline, and faculty are asked to be the local experts in what constitutes out-of-boundary behavior.
At the end of the day, the only metric that matters is whether an appeals board would agree with the faculty member. Faculty should ask themselves if they feel their evidence would "pass muster" with external and impartial observers.
- AIRB – The Academic Integrity Review Board is a College-level committee created ad hoc for each case of a student appeal to an academic integrity sanction. The AIRB comprises at least three individuals, one of whom must be a student. Functions of the AIRB are described in detail in USF Policy 3.027.
- EIC – The Ethics and Integrity Council is a Presidential Advisory Council comprised of faculty and staff. The council members do not directly adjudicate student cases, but promote integrity to various campus audiences, suggest revisions to policies and processes, and recruits and trains students for the SAIC.
- FF – This is a failing grade on the internal transcript that is marked special (FF) because it was assigned for violating academic integrity. At present, it is only visible on internal transcripts, and will show as a normal “F” grade on external transcripts (both official and unofficial).
- SAIC – The Student Academic Integrity Council is comprised of students who have been through training by the EIC on ethics and the integrity policy. This body is a primary source of student volunteers to serve on AIRB committees.