Small Seal

Cheating and Plagiarism

Recommended By: Academic Senate
Approved: Ruben Armiñana, President

Date of Original Issue: July 1, 1992
Date of Current Issue: October 28, 2011
Effective Date: October 28, 2011
Contact Office: Academic Affairs

Policy #2008-4

  1. POLICY, AUTHORITY AND DEFINITIONS
    1. Policy
      It is the policy of Sonoma State University to be pro-active in dealing with issues of cheating and plagiarism. Faculty members are encouraged to discuss with students academic ethics and the formulation of one's own intellectual material. It is also the policy of Sonoma State University to impose sanctions on students who cheat or plagiarize. Students are expected to be honest in meeting the requirements of courses in which they are enrolled. Cheating or plagiarism is dishonest, undermines the necessary trust upon which relations between students and faculty are based, and is unacceptable conduct. Students who engage in cheating or plagiarism will be subject to academic sanctions, including a lowered or failing grade in a course; and the possibility of an additional administrative sanction, including probation, suspension, or expulsion.
    2. Authority
      Title 5, California Code of Regulations, Section 41301 lists various infractions of the code of conduct for which students may be sanctioned. Section 41301 gives authority to the Chancellor of the California State University to establish disciplinary procedures for all campuses. For more information, see the SSU online catalog (http://www.sonoma.edu/ar/catalog/regulations.shtml) or the Student Affairs Division web site (http://www.sonoma.edu/stuaffairs). The SSU Cheating and Plagiarism Policy and Procedures is established under the authority of Executive Order1043,"Student Disciplinary Procedures for The California State University," issued by the Chancellor on August 3, 2009.
    3. Definitions Of Cheating and Plagiarism
      1. Cheating: Cheating is the act of obtaining or attempting to obtain credit for academic work by using dishonest means. Cheating at SSU includes but is not limited to:
        1. Copying, in part or whole, from another's examination, paper, mathematical analysis, research or creative project, or the like;
        2. Submitting as one's own work an examination, paper, mathematical analysis, research or creative project, or the like which has been purchased, borrowed, or stolen; or fabricating data;
        3. Consulting notes, sources, or materials, including use of electronic devices, not specifically authorized by the instructor during an examination;
        4. Employing a surrogate to take an examination, write a paper, do mathematical analysis, or complete, in part or wholly, an evaluation instrument;
        5. Falsification of or misrepresentation on class attendance or role sheets.
        6. Aiding or abetting any act that a reasonable person would conclude, when informed of the evidence, to be a dishonest means of obtaining or attempting to obtain credit for academic work; and
        7. Committing any act that a reasonable person would conclude, when informed of the evidence, to be a dishonest means of obtaining or attempting to obtain credit for academic work.
      2. Plagiarism: Plagiarism is the act of obtaining or attempting to obtain credit for academic work by representing the work of another as one's own without the necessary and appropriate acknowledgment. More specifically, plagiarism is:
        1. The act of incorporating the ideas, words of sentences, paragraphs, or parts thereof without appropriate acknowledgment and representing the product as one's own work; and
        2. The act of representing another's intellectual work such as musical composition, computer program, photographs, painting, drawing, sculpture, or research or the like as one's own.

      NOTE: If a student is in doubt about the nature of plagiarism, he/she should discuss the matter with the course instructor.

  2. GUIDELINES FOR A FACULTY MEMBER PROCEEDING INFORMALLY
    1. Rationale: The University recognizes the importance of informal communication between faculty and students and encourages informal communication as a means of resolving concerns over cheating or plagiarism. In many instances, when a faculty member suspects cheating or plagiarism, informal discussion between the faculty member and the student may resolve the concern. Every effort should be made to respect the rights of the student.
    2. Definition of an Informal Resolution: An informal resolution is an agreement between the faculty member and the student to resolve an allegation of cheating or plagiarism between themselves, or with the consultation of a third party by applying an appropriate sanction as outlined in Section III.D.1. The final phase of the informal resolution process is the completion of a record of the informal resolution which is then signed by both the faculty member and the student (Section II.E).
    3. Procedures for an Informal Resolution: The instructor should carefully consider the reasons s/he believes the student cheated or plagiarized. Proof of cheating and/or plagiarism may include, but is not limited to:
      1. Documentation regarding the source of the materials used by the student without proper attribution or represented as the student’s own work
      2. A demonstrably marked difference in the writing style of the student, as compared to previous work or assignments
      3. Testimony from others regarding a student’s use of academically dishonest means to complete the assignment or exam
      4. Firsthand observation of the student engaging in cheating or plagiarism
      5. An unusual or suspicious degree of similarity in work done by different students
      6. Admission by the student that s/he cheated or plagiarized to complete an assignment or exam
    4. As soon as possible after the discovery of the alleged violation, the faculty member shall arrange an office conference to inform the student of the allegations, discuss the faculty member’s reasons for believing that the student cheated or plagiarized, and allow the student to respond. The faculty member and student may also agree to consult informally with a third party, for example, the the Chair of the Department. Charges of cheating and plagiarism must be brought against a student within a maximum of 120 calendar days after the discovery of the alleged violation.
    5. When faculty and student agree to an informal resolution, the faculty member shall fill out the Cheating and Plagiarism Record of Informal Resolution, which the faculty member and the student shall sign. Although the student may choose to agree immediately to an informal resolution, the faculty member must inform the student that s/he has five (5) academic days to accept the charges and sign the document. Once the form is signed, the faculty member and the student shall each retain a copy of the form. The faculty member then shall assign the student a grade for the course or assignment.
    6. If the semester ends without the completion of an informal resolution, the faculty member shall assign the grade RP (Report in Progress)for the student alleged to have cheated and/or plagiarized.
    7. If the student denies the charges or does not sign the Cheating and Plagiarism Record of Informal Resolution, the matter must be resolved through the formal process (see Section III).
    8. Faculty must report the infraction and the action taken to the Student Conduct Administrator. The faculty member shall send the Student Conduct Administrator a copy of the Cheating and Plagiarism Record of Informal Resolution form within five (5) academic days of the faculty and student signing the document.
    9. TheStudent Conduct Administrator shall maintain a list of students found responsible for cheating or plagiarism in order to detect students who are repeat offenders. If the student has more than one violation of the Cheating and Plagiarism Policy, the Student Conduct Administrator will determine if administrative disciplinary action is warranted.
    10. As per the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), all proceedings, notes, and discussions between the faculty member and the student shall remain confidential. The faculty member may consult with his or her department chair, dean or other appropriate administrator.
    11. Sanctions may include, but are not limited to, those listed under Section III.D.
  3. GUIDELINES FOR A FACULTY MEMBER PROCEEDING FORMALLY
    1.  Rationale: The faculty member may initiate a formal proceeding when, (1) the student fails to attend the scheduled conference to discuss the allegations; (2) the alleged cheating or plagiarism is detected at the close of the semester and the instructor’s good faith effort to contact the student is unsuccessful; (3) informal resolution fails; or (4) the faculty member feels the gravity of the situation demands University disciplinary action. The faculty member shall wait to assign the student a grade for the course or assignment until the formal proceedings are concluded.
    2. Definition of Proceeding Formally: A formal procedure is the submission of a written allegation of cheating or plagiarism to the Dispute Resolution Board and resolution of the allegation by the Dispute Resolution Board, in addition to any decisions related to sanctions.  A formal procedure occurs when the faculty member and the student are unable to reach agreement on the alleged violation and informal sanctions or when the faculty member believes that the alleged violation is of a particularly serious nature as to warrant formal proceedings.
    3. Formal Cheating and Plagiarism Procedure
      1. To initiate formal procedures, see the Formal Dispute Resolution Procedures http://www.sonoma.edu/UAffairs/policies/dispute_resolution.htm
      2. The Cheating and Plagiarism Complaint form must be submitted to the Chair of the Dispute Resolution Board within 120 calendar days after the discovery of the alleged violation.
    4. Sanctions for Cheating or Plagiarism
      1. Academic Sanctions: One or more academic sanctions may be imposed for cheating or plagiarism. Academic sanctions may be imposed by a faculty member through the informal process or may be recommended by a faculty member in their submission to the Dispute Resolution Board. Academic sanctions may include, but are not limited to:
        1. A redoing of the examination, paper, mathematical analysis, research or creative project, or the like;
        2. A failing grade on the examination, paper, mathematical analysis, research or creative project, or the like;
        3. A specified reduction in the course grade;
        4. A failing grade in the course;
        5. Multiple Sanctions: More than one of the sanctions listed above may be imposed for any single violation.
      2. Administrative Sanctions:  When there is an allegation of a particularly serious violation of the Cheating and Plagiarism Policy, administrative sanctions may be requested by a faculty member in their submission to the Dispute Resolution Board.  Student discipline sanctions, per CSU Executive Order 970, may include expulsion or suspension from the University, probation and other sanctions. If the Dispute Resolution Board finds administrative sanctions appropriate, the Board will forward their recommendation to the Student Conduct Administrator. Formal administrative sanction hearings for cheating or plagiarism are administered through the Student Conduct Administrator.