Scholarly Misconduct

At The Graduate School, we understand how important preventing & appropriately addressing scholarly misconduct in graduate studies is. On this page, we have provided resources & critical information to be utilized to prevent and address scholarly misconduct.

Preventing Scholarly Misconduct

You have the ability to reduce scholarly misconduct within the classroom, the laboratory, and beyond. The information below will provide you with tools and resources for discouraging scholarly misconduct and encouraging scholarly integrity.

Understand Why a Student Considers Scholarly Misconduct

 

It’s rare that someone starts graduate school planning to cheat, plagiarize, or falsify data, but it happens more often than we would like. When it does happen, in many cases, a student doesn't understand that what they were doing was considered scholarly misconduct. Additionally, students often find themselves in a difficult situation; and even if they knew what they were doing was wrong, they didn't see another way out. You can help avoid these circumstances with your students, advisees, and supervisees by being clear about your expectations and by creating a caring, understanding atmosphere with your students.

State Your Expectations Clearly

 

Set a precedent of scholarly integrity from the very first time you interact with your students. 1,3 State your expectations clearly- both verbally and in written documentation. 1 Be sure that your student(s) thoroughly understand what constitutes scholarly misconduct- including common misunderstandings. For example, it is scholarly misconduct for a student to collaborate on an assignment that was intended to be completed independently, to use work created for one class in another without the professor’s expressed consent, or to present incomplete citations. Explain potential consequences of scholarly misconduct. Most importantly: don’t be afraid to repeat yourself. Have a discussion with your students about scholarly misconduct on the first day of class, or at their first lab meeting, and then remind them before examinations, homework assignments, critical laboratory protocols, writing grant proposals, etc.

Create an Atmosphere of Integrity

 

Make sure your students know that you understand that life happens. Life can be complicated, overwhelming, and messy sometimes. Your students must know that you are cognizant about this, and that you can display an appropriate level of compassion and leniency in response to such circumstances. For example, if students know you understand that an unexpectedly sick child might delay an assignment deadline, then they are more likely to ask for an extension rather than take questionable or unethical short-cuts. If students know that experiments often yield unexpected or even confusing, disheartening results, then they will be less likely to provide false data.

Be Clever about How You Prevent Scholarly Misconduct

The resources below list many tips for avoiding scholarly misconduct both inside and outside of the classroom; take time to read through them.

The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning offers tips for preventing scholarly misconduct. Visit their website here. “Use HuskyCT Tools: Don’t forget about the option to have students submit their papers via SafeAssign on HuskyCT. SafeAssignments deter students from committing plagiarism and help you to identify plagiarism in papers. SafeAssign compares submitted assignments against a set of academic papers to identify areas of overlap between the submitted assignment and existing works. SafeAssign is effective as both a deterrent and an educational tool. Use SafeAssign to review assignment submissions for originality and create opportunities to help students identify how to properly attribute sources rather than paraphrase. Visit CETL's Educational Technology site for information on SafeAssign. SafeAssign itself should not be used as the final arbiter in making a determination about plagiarism; it’s a helpful tool, but an experienced teacher is still the best final judge.”

Lockdown Browser (LDB) is a custom browser that locks down the testing environment for the student into our learning management system, which is Blackboard. Through LDB, the instructor can restrict the students' ability to access other webpages or other files on their computer. The instructor can also opt to use Respondus Monitor, a recording technology which can detect behavior that is unusual for a testing environment. This technology also includes identification verification, an environment check, and an integrity policy that requires students to confirm their identity. Monitor is not a live proctoring option, rather it records the students and flags behavior. The instructor then reviews the video to determine if there is suspicious behavior.

Some instructors prefer to proctor their students virtually. Although they can use any video conferencing system for this, we typically recommend Webex because the instructor can view 25 students at a time with this system.

Instructors should also be aware of the authentication requirement for online and distance learning courses. This federal requirement is aimed at ensuring the student who has registered for and is receiving credit for the course is the one who is participating and taking the assessments. To learn more about this, visit this webpage.

Beyond technology, instructors can utilize a variety of techniques to promote academic integrity, such as:

  •  Use multiple assessment techniques versus high stakes exams. Instructors should consider using multiple, smaller assessments, including formative assessments with reduced weighting;
  • Increase use of segmented writing assignments and threaded online discussions;
  • Use test banks to provide different versions of exams to students;
  • Utilize timed test delivery;
  • Raise awareness among students about what constitutes inappropriate behavior in your course; and
  • Add a certification statement/question to the start of an assessment where students agree to abide by the student code and affirm this is their own work.

Process of Addressing Scholarly Misconduct

If you believe scholarly misconduct has occurred, utilize the following information & resources to appropriately address the situation.

Steps for Addressing Suspected Scholarly Misconduct Within an Academic Course

 

  1. Retain all evidence of the alleged misconduct in its original form and gather any additional information as needed (for example, conversation with students involved or finding sources of plagiarized material). Original papers or materials need not be returned, but copies of student’s work will be provided upon request.
  2. Determine the type of scholarly misconduct and the appropriate academic consequences (such as failure for assignment, failure for the course).
  3. If there are other course instructors, notify them of the allegation and the proposed academic consequences before the student is notified.
  4. You may, at this point, meet with the student to explain your allegation of scholarly misconduct.
    • You can utilize this meeting to gather additional information, explain the proposed academic consequence, and discuss strategies for avoiding future scholarly misconduct. This meeting is not mandatory but it is highly encouraged.
  5. Within 30 business days of becoming aware of the alleged misconduct, notify the student and their major advisor in writing of the allegation and the academic consequence to be imposed.
    • This letter should be sent to the student’s official University email address. If it is necessary, send a copy of the letter to the mailing address on file with the University; first class mail, postage prepaid.
    • Written notification must include:
      • Date, course, place (or situation), and type of scholarly misconduct
      • Evidence collected that supports the allegation
      • Proposed academic consequence with the date it will go into effect, and
      • Notification that the student has 10 business days to address the allegation and/or file an appeal. (See template letter here)
  6. Complete the Scholarly Misconduct Reporting Form to notify The Graduate School about the scholarly misconduct. Attach to the reporting form your notification to the student, your syllabus, and any other materials collected that supports the alleged behavior.
  7. If in-course scholarly misconduct includes research misconduct on a sponsored project, please see step 2 in the next section for scholarly misconduct outside of the classroom. Please note:
    •  A student who has been notified that they are accused of scholarly misconduct may not withdraw from the course in which the alleged misconduct has occurred without the approval of the Dean of The Graduate School.
    • If a semester concludes before a scholarly misconduct matter is resolved, the student shall receive a temporary “I” (Incomplete) grade in the course until the instructor submits the appropriate grade.
  8. If the student does not file an appeal, then your role in the process is complete. You may impose the academic consequences proposed in the notification letter. If the student does file an appeal, the Hearing Officer will review the appeal and determine if the case will be reviewed by the Hearing Committee. You will be notified if the case is forwarded to the Hearing Committee and be provided with information about hearing procedures. If the case is forwarded, a hearing will be scheduled within 30 business days.
    1. Please see the Graduate Catalog for information about Complaint, Appeal, and Hearing Procedures, specifically “Graduate Hearing Procedure.” When you attend the hearing, you will be asked to present all evidence supporting your allegation. The student will also be provided the opportunity to present information. The Hearing Committee will gather information and ask questions as necessary. You will be informed of the committee’s decision by email within 10 business days after the hearing.
    2. If the Hearing Committee does not uphold the student’s appeal, then the original academic consequences will go into effect. If the appeal is upheld, the Hearing Committee will make a recommendation, depending on their decision, for next steps.
    3. After the decision of the Hearing Committee is made, there is a final appeal that may be filed with the Dean of The Graduate School within 10 business days. The decision of the Dean of The Graduate School concerning a final appeal is final. An appeal may be sought on the following three grounds:
      • On a claim of error in the hearing procedure.
      • On a claim of new evidence or information material to the case that was not available at the time of the hearing.
      • On a claim of substantive error arising from misinterpretation of evidence presented at the hearing.

Steps for Addressing Suspected Scholarly Misconduct Outside of an Academic Course

 

  1. Follow steps 1-6 in the previous section, including completing the Scholarly Misconduct Reporting Form.
  2. Cases involving allegations of research misconduct on a sponsored project by graduate students enrolled at Storrs, regional campuses and UConn Health will be referred to the Office of the Vice President for Research via email/phone for review under the Policy on Alleged Misconduct in Research.
  3. Cases involving alleged violation of standards governing the codes of conduct for students in professional fields (e.g., pharmacy, nursing, education, counseling, and therapy) may be subject to additional review by other entities inside or outside the University (e.g., professional organizations or credentialing boards).

For questions about scholarly integrity and misconduct policy or procedures, please contact Cinnamon Adams, Director of Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Support at cinnamon.adams@uconn.edu.

*Scholarly Integrity and Misconduct Policy and Procedures are located in the Graduate Catalog: Scholarly Integrity and Misconduct.