University of Connecticut University of UC Title Fallback Connecticut

Handling a Plagiarism Situation

It is not always easy to decide whether to charge a student with plagiarism. In this section you will find resources to help you make the decision, including a series of scenarios of academic dishonesty and possible responses to those. As you make the decision as to whether or not to formally charge a student with academic misconduct, keep in mind that although it may be a student’s first infraction in your class, he or she may have already plagiarized in other classes. If instructors continue to deal with the issue “behind closed doors” rather than through the official channels, students who need to both be punished for and educated about academic dishonesty are not getting those opportunities.

What do you do when you believe a student has plagiarized, using the Internet or not? Some faculty want to handle the matter “quietly” and simply have the student rewrite the paper. The Office of Student Affairs encourages faculty to follow the prescribed procedure which safeguards both the faculty member and the student. More importantly, if students know that faculty are treating Plagiarism seriously there is a better chance for reducing the practice.

Plagiarism Scenarios and Possible Responses

The specific steps to take are an abridged version of the University of Connecticut Student Code, Appendix A – Academic Integrity in Undergraduate Education and Research (italics have been added to key points):

  1. When the instructor of record or designee (instructor) believes that an act of academic misconduct has occurred s/he is responsible for saving the evidence in its original form and need not return any of the original papers or other materials to the student. Copies of the student’s work and information about other evidence will be provided to the student upon request.
  2. When an instructor believes there is sufficient information to demonstrate a case of academic misconduct, s/he shall notify the student in writing of the allegation of misconduct and the academic consequences that the instructor will impose. The written notification shall also inform the student whether the case has been referred to the Academic Misconduct Hearing Board for consideration of additional sanctions. The instructor shall send the written notification to the student with a copy to the Office of Student Affairs at the Waterbury Campus.
  3. The student has 5 business days from receipt of the written notice to respond to the instructor and/or to request a hearing (see “Academic Misconduct Board”). If the student does not respond within the allotted time the instructor’s sanctions shall be imposed. If the student requests a hearing the instructor shall forward the request to the Office of Student Affairs at the Waterbury Campus. If the student and the instructor reach a mutually acceptable resolution of the case the instructor shall notify the Office of Student Affairs of the agreement. The instructor shall also notify the Office of Student Affairs if s/he withdraws the allegation of misconduct. A student who has been notified that s/he has been accused of academic misconduct may not withdraw from the course in which the alleged misconduct has occurred without the approval of the Board.
  4. The appropriate academic consequence for serious offenses is generally considered to be failure in the course.
    For less serious offenses regarding small portions of the course work, failure for that portion is suggested with the requirement that the student repeat the work for no credit. The following are guidelines for Academic Misconduct Sanctions to assist faculty in determining the type of sanction that should be assigned to an infraction. Sanction Guidelines
  5. Normally, written notification shall occur within thirty (30) days of the discovery of the alleged misconduct.

A sample charge letter, developed by the University of Connecticut’s Department of English, can also be downloaded and printed out on University letterhead. Stuart Brown from the Office of Student Affairs can assist faculty that have questions.