Faculty Guide to Student Academic Misconduct


This guide is intended to be used as a starting point for faculty who may be faced with a possible academic misconduct situation.


  • Students who are trying to achieve a high gpa for graduate schools.
  • Students are trying to avoid academic probation or suspension.
  • “Students who value grades over learning and honesty” (Waryold, 2003).

Spending some time on writing and providing quality examples may be a good way to help students better understand your expectations. One of the best ways to prevent plagiarism is to eliminate “incentives to cheat” (Sterngold, 2004, p. 18). Sterngold recommends:

  • Breaking up research papers into smaller assignments. (This forces students to begin work on assignments earlier.)
  • A research proposal and annotated bibliography are good examples.
  • Requiring more specific assignments, rather than having students write about anything they want.
  • Meeting with students to discuss their assignments.


Many students do not see Internet plagiarism as a serious offense, but Scanlon and Neumann (2002) found that many students do cut and paste material from the Internet into their own assignments. Some students also purchase papers from online paper mills. If you are unsure whether a student is the original author, select a phrase and search for it on the Internet, using Google or SafeAssignment.com, for example. UNC has a license with safeassignment.com.
To learn more about safeassignment.com contact the UNC Center for Professional Development at 351-1363 .


It might be helpful to:

  • “Let students know that plagiarism is recognizable and is not tolerable.
  • Place a clear plagiarism statement in class syllabi.
  • Obtain a two-page, hand-written writing sample from each student on the first day of class. This could prove to be helpful in comparing this writing with any questionable subsequent writings” (Recognizing Plagiarism).
  • Have students turn in copies of their research articles and websites used (http://www.antiplagiarism.com).


What if I Know My Student Has Plagiarized or Cheated?
Allegations of academic misconduct are serious. If you determine that a student has plagiarized or cheated, you have some options. As outlined in the Student Handbook, the student may be subject to:

  • A zero or “F” on the assignment in question;
  • An “F” in the course;
  • Other academic penalties as outlined in the course requirements and expectations;
  • Disciplinary action as specified in Student  Code of Conduct;
  • Any combination of the above.

Procedural due process, including the right to appeal, is to be followed in making a determination of whether academic misconduct has occurred ( Academic Expectations).
See also Student Code of Conduct

Differences of Opinion Among Faculty and Students

In general, there is great ambiguity in our definitions of academic dishonesty (Higbee & Thomas, 2002). Each student might have a different interpretation of what constitutes cheating. In a research study that examined faculty and student attitudes toward cheating, Higbee and Thomas (2002) concluded,

“Given that faculty opinions and expectations differ, it is crucial that faculty members communicate their policies in writing in their syllabi, and also facilitate class discussions on this topic early in the term” (p. 48).

A survey of students revealed that 87% of students learned of cheating policies through faculty and course syllabi (McCabe, 2000). In the same survey, only 22% of students thought that “copying a few sentences of material without footnoting them in a paper” was “serious cheating.”

For more information on this topic, visit the Dean of Students Website.


  • Higbee, J. L., & Thomas, P. V. (2002). Student and faculty perceptions of behaviors that constitute cheating. NASPA Journal, 40, 39-52.
  • McCabe, D. (2000). [Academic integrity survey results.] Unpublished raw data.
  • Scanlon, P. M., & Neumann, D. R. (2002). Internet plagiarism among college students. Journal of College Student Development, 43, 374-385.
  • Sterngold, A. (2004, May/June). Confronting plagiarism. Change, 16-21.
  • Waryold, D. (2003). [Report on cheating and plagiarism]. Durham, NC: Duke University, Center for Academic Integrity.

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