Addressing Issues of Academic Integrity with Students

If you are concerned about academic integrity in any submitted student work during the drafting stages, we urge you intervene and guide the student toward making ethical decisions. We also invite you to review the instructor’s introduction to “Ethical Scholarship,” where you will find definitions, procedures, and advice. For a more detailed discussion, please see the section on Ethical Scholarship in our Instructor Resource Book.

Most issues with academic integrity emerge during the drafting process. Identifying a misstep, particularly during the drafting process, should be treated as a “teaching moment” for a student. The student should revise the work, which usually means they have to stop seeing sources (even Wikipedia) as “experts” who will substitute much more interesting (and authoritative) ideas for their own. In other cases, working with the student on ways of using an idea or section of an assigned text helps them feel more in control of sources. When the student can revise the draft, using the work of others ethically and effectively, then we leave the lesson there.

We typically recommend working with students on revision if issues of academic integrity appear during the drafting process. Please speak with First-Year Writing if you would like assistance in how to navigate these conversations.

If you have concerns about the final draft of student work, the procedure briefly is this:

  • Share your concerns (and the student work) with us (FYW) and we will weigh in. Please be sure to keep us in the loop—early and often. 
  • Discuss your concerns with the student before casting aspersions. Ask questions about the process and the product, including where the student had difficulties and where the student feels the argument is strongest. Also ask about research undertaken and writing resources (like the Writing Center) used.
  • Consider the student’s response and, if you are still very concerned, ask outright: “Did you write this essay from start to finish using your own ideas as well as your own words and phrasing for this assignment only?”

If the “teaching moment” presented by the situation does not resolve the problem, then you can do the following:

  • Compile evidence to show the student has failed to meet the Student Code standards for submitted work. Discuss your findings with the student and outline the consequences.
  • Discuss the options for consequences with the Director of FYW (Brenda Brueggemann) or Associate Director (Lisa Blansett) if there is substantial plagiarism and an egregious lack of attention to the responsibilities of being a writer. Consider whether it makes sense to have the student write an entirely new essay (rather than revise the problematic essay). If the problem is “sloppy scholarship,” then asking the student to revise the section is the best practice.
    • When the Director suggests that the situation warrants a serious consequence, you may write the letter to Community Standards; be sure to send your email to the student and CC us.
    • The CS office reviews the letter and allows the student to rebut the charge. If the student does not appeal the letter and grade, then the CS office keeps a copy of the letter on file. If the student has more letters filed subsequently (by other instructors), then the case is referred to the Dean of Students, who makes a determination about the student’s future as a student at UConn.
  • Work on developing more ways to discuss ethical scholarship in class, to involve students in constructing the standards for submitted work. Review the activities described here: “Terms of Ethical Scholarship,” Plagiarizing, “’Patchwriting,’ Paper Mills, and Unauthorized Assistance: A User’s Guide,” “Comparing Approaches to Academic Integrity,” and “Copyright and Fair Use.”