Information for Instructors

The following outlines the steps to follow in investigating possible departures from academic integrity and making findings. Instructors should also familiarize themselves with the Smith Academic Integrity Policy.

Questions?

The Smith Dean's Office is available to provide advice to instructors on matters of academic integrity – call 613.533.2305 or email Laurie Ross at: Lross@business.queensu.ca

To begin investigating a possible departure from academic integrity, the instructor should assemble all documents related to the case. Such documents might include:

  • The work submitted by the student for academic credit
  • The source(s) from which the work submitted by the student is apparently derived
  • The instructions describing the nature of the work to be done
  • Any emails between instructor and student relating to the work
  • Any documents used by the instructor stating policies on departures from academic integrity
  • While collecting evidence, the instructor is encouraged to seek guidance from the Smith Dean's office concerning matters relating to departures from academic integrity and the Smith Academic Integrity policy. When discussing possible departures from academic integrity, the instructor should ensure that the student's identity remains confidential, pending a finding of departure from academic integrity.
  1. Inform student in writing of the investigation
    An instructor who identifies a possible departure from academic integrity must fill out the Notice of Investigation form. Completing the form supplies the student with all of the information required by the Smith Academic Integrity policy, including:

    • The evidence on which the investigation is based (the student should be supplied with all documents related to the investigation)
    • The possible sanctions
    • The student's right to respond to the investigation in writing or in person
    • The student's right to have representation in any response
    • The student's right to utilize the services provided by Queen's Coordinator of Dispute Resolution Mechanisms

    While the case is under investigation, instructors should address all matters to the student as a "possible" or "potential" departure from academic integrity.

    To ensure that the student receives the Notice and additional relevant materials in a timely manner, the instructor should e-mail the student with all materials attached, or with the direction to pick up the materials from the Smith Dean's Office, and/or send the documents by registered mail to the student's local or currently-resident address (as obtained from the student information system).

  2. Receive student response to the notice of investigation
    Within 10 days of receiving the notice of investigation, the student must make an initial response to the instructor, either to schedule a meeting or to indicate that he/she does not wish to meet and will provide a written response. If the student wishes to meet, the instructor should ask who else, if anyone, will accompany the student. If the student appears with legal counsel without prior notice, the instructor should re-schedule the meeting and contact the Smith Dean’s Office for support.

    In most instances, the instructor will meet with the student to discuss the possible departure from academic integrity. At least 10 calendar days prior to the meeting, the student has the right to know what material will be considered. At the meeting, the student will have the opportunity to respond to the investigation. If the student wishes, he or she may offer a written submission in addition to attending the meeting and may bring an advisor.

    If, for any reason, the student does not wish to meet in person, the student may submit a detailed, written explanation of the student’s side of the story to the instructor, along with copies of earlier drafts of the student’s work, and any other relevant documentation. This written submission must be provided to the instructor no more than 10 days after receiving the notice of investigation.

    If an investigation is initiated near the end of the course or otherwise cannot be resolved prior to the grade submission deadline, the instructor should assign a Grade Deferred (GD) to hold the final grade in abeyance until the investigation process has been concluded. Once the investigation is concluded, the instructor must submit a change of grade.

    The student may not drop the course while an investigation is under way. If an instructor becomes aware that a student under investigation has dropped the course, the instructor should alert the Smith Dean’s Office, which will reinstate the student pending the outcome of the case. If a finding is made, the Smith Dean’s Office will confirm the student's enrolment status in the course when filing the finding, and reinstate the student at that time if necessary.

  3. Finding of departure from academic integrity
    After considering the available evidence, the instructor will determine if it is sufficient for a finding of departure from academic integrity. Conflicts of evidence and issues of credibility on pivotal issues must be resolved, and a finding of fact made concerning the version of events before the finding of a departure from academic integrity can be made. The decision should be made within 14 days of meeting with the student (or receiving their written submission), or within a reasonable period of time as demanded by the complexity of the case.

    • In cases where there is no finding of departure from academic integrity: If, after a careful investigation of the evidence and consideration of the response by the student, the instructor determines that there are no grounds for a finding of departure from academic integrity, all documents related to the case must be destroyed and the instructor must inform the student that the investigation has been dropped using the Notice of File Closure form.
    • In cases where there is a finding of departure from academic integrity: If, after a careful investigation of the evidence and consideration of the response by the student, the instructor determines that there is sufficient and persuasive evidence to make a finding of departure from academic integrity, the instructor must complete a Finding of a Departure from Academic Integrity form and will need to determine an appropriate sanction or remedy. (see Step 4 below). Up to this point, a record of previous departures from academic integrity is not relevant in making a finding of departure from academic integrity.
    1. Contact Smith Dean’s Office
      Where there is a finding of departure from academic integrity, the instructor must first contact the Smith Dean's Office. If a previous finding exists, the Dean’s Office Director will inform the instructor and follow up in writing. In this case the instructor will indicate on the Finding of a Departure from Academic Integrity form that the case is being referred to the Smith Academic Integrity Panel for the assignment of an appropriate sanction. In these cases, the instructor should proceed directly to Step 4 below.
    2. Considerations in assessing the remedy or sanction:
      If no other academic integrity record is on file in the Smith Dean’s Office, the instructor may assign a remedy or sanction appropriate to the extent or severity of the offense. After the finding is made, it is recommended that the instructor consult the Dean’s Office concerning the matter of an appropriate remedy or sanction. The instructor should consider several factors in assessing the gravity of the remedial measure or sanction to be imposed, including:
      • The extent and seriousness of the departure, having regard to its actual or potential consequences
      • The degree to which the work or conduct in question forms a significant portion of the final grade and whether the extent of the departure is substantial as demonstrated by the work or conduct in question
      • The academic experience of the student, differentiating between first-year or students taking electives and upper-year students who ought to be familiar with the expectations for academic
      • Integrity at Smith
      • Records of multiple departures within a single incident or multiple departures discovered at one time, rather than an isolated aberration
      • Evidence of a deliberate attempt to gain advantage
      • Injury to another student or to the institution
      • Conduct that intimidates others or that provokes misconduct by others

      In addition, there may be occasions where there are mitigating circumstances. Although mitigating circumstances do not exonerate or excuse a student from the finding of a departure from academic integrity, these factors should be taken into account to ensure that the remedy or sanction imposed is fair, reasonable, and proportionate to the gravity of the departure found. The decision must outline the evidence supporting reliance on the mitigating circumstances. The onus is on the student to provide evidence of mitigating circumstances. The sorts of mitigating circumstances that may be relevant include:

      • Documented evidence from an appropriate health professional of factors directly compromising the student’s capacity to adhere to the standards of academic integrity at the relevant time
      • Prompt admission to the alleged departure from academic integrity by the student and expression of contrition and willingness to undertake educative remedies
      • Evidence that reasonable steps were not taken in the circumstances to bring the standards and expectations regarding academic integrity to the attention of the student at the relevant time.

      In summary, any sanction should reflect the extent and severity of the departure from academic integrity and precedents in the School of Business, taking into account any mitigating circumstances. The instructor may consider a range of remedies or sanctions including:

      • An oral or written warning that such infractions constitute unacceptable behaviour (Note that an oral warning must still be documented on the Finding of a Departure from Academic Integrity form)
      • A learning experience involving a rewriting or revision of the original piece of work
      • The submission of a new piece of work
      • The completion of other work
      • The deduction of partial or total marks for the assignment/exam
      • A failing grade (down to a grade of zero) in the course

      If the penalty amounts to a failure in the course, the student may not drop the course, regardless of the drop deadlines.

      If the instructor believes that the finding warrants a sanction more serious than an instructor may impose, the instructor should refer the case to the Smith Academic Integrity Panel (see Step 6 below).

    3. Informing the student of finding and sanction
      After making the finding and setting a sanction within the scope of those available to the instructor (see Step 4 above), the instructor must inform the student in writing of the decision. Instructors must use the Finding of a Departure from Academic Integrity form. Completing the form supplies the student with the information required by Senate policy, including:
      • The details of the finding of a departure from academic integrity, including the reasons for the finding as supported by relevant, clear and cogent evidence
      • The sanction
      • The student’s right to appeal the finding and/or the sanction to the Smith Academic Integrity Panel
      • The deadline for appealing to the Academic Integrity Panel
      • The resources available for consultation, including the student’s right to access the services provided by Queen’s Coordinator of Dispute Resolution Mechanisms
      • The fact that a copy of the finding will be kept on file in the Smith Dean’s Office, in the student’s file and, in the case of a student who is not registered in the School of Business, a copy will also be sent to the student’s home School or Faculty

      All original documents related to the case, including the submitted work, and any relevant correspondence, as well as copies of the Notice of Investigation form, and Finding of Departure from Academic Integrity form should be forwarded to the Smith Dean's Office.

    4. Referral of sanction to the Smith Academic Integrity Panel
      If the finding appears to warrant a sanction more serious than the instructor may impose, or if there is a previous finding of a departure from academic integrity on file in the Smith Dean’s Office, the case shall be referred to the Smith Academic Integrity Panel. The Panel may impose sanctions ranging from those noted above to a recommendation to Senate that the student be required to withdraw from the University. In the event of a referral to the Panel, the instructor must still fill in the Finding of Departure from Academic Integrity form. Completing the form supplies the student with the information required by Senate policy, as listed in Step 3 above.

      To ensure that the student receives the Finding form and additional relevant materials in a timely manner, the instructor should e-mail the student with all materials attached, or with the direction to pick up the materials from the Smith Dean’s Office, and/or send the documents by registered mail to the student’s local or currently-resident address (as obtained from the student information system).

      All original documents related to the case, including the submitted work, and any relevant correspondence, as well as copies of the Notice of Investigation form, and Finding of Departure from Academic Integrity form should be forwarded to the Smith Dean’s Office.

  • Students may appeal the decision and/or the sanction imposed by the instructor in writing to the Smith Academic Integrity Panel, within 7 days of receiving the instructor’s decision.
  • The Panel will call a meeting with the student (and representative if desired), the instructor (and representative if desired), and other witnesses as appropriate, to conduct a thorough review of the available evidence. The Panel will provide a written response, normally within 7 days. If the appeal is denied, the student can appeal to the Smith Academic Appeals Committee, if they can meet the grounds for appeal described in the Smith Academic Integrity Policy (Section 5.1.4).