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Academic Misconduct


The University of Sioux Falls holds firmly to the conviction that personal and intellectual integrity should be fundamental values at a Christian university.  For this reason, USF expects all students and employees of the university to act honestly, ethically, and fairly and to avoid activities that would compromise the academic mission of the university.  To make this standard explicit, therefore, the university offers the following list of actions that it considers to be inappropriate, unethical, and harmful to the learning environment at USF.

Although the following list is relatively comprehensive, it is neither complete nor uniformly enforceable.  Nevertheless, by providing practical guidance for students on issues related to personal and institutional integrity at USF, the university is hoping to implement its mission "to foster academic excellence and the development of mature Christian persons. . . ."


Abuse of Confidentiality

Definition:  Revealing, using, or discussing confidential information that one acquires during classroom discussions, service projects, internships, practice teaching assignments, work-study employment, or other activities sponsored by the university.


  • discussing confidential information about another person (e.g., private information about a person's health, grades, financial affairs, or conduct requiring disciplinary action) without authorization or the other person's permission, even if the discussion is held in a private place or the person being discussed is a close friend
  •  using or threatening to use confidential information about another person to influence her/his participation in classroom or campus activities


Definition:  Using or attempting to use unauthorized assistance, material, or equipment while preparing for or working on an examination or other academic assignment.


  • using a note card or "crib notes" on an exam (unless expressly authorized by the instructor)
  • copying another person's answers or reading another person's work during an exam
  • whispering or talking with another person about the content of an exam before everyone has finished working on the exam
  • seeking the details of an examination before taking the exam (unless such information is made public by the instructor)
  • altering a graded document and later contesting its scoring

Dishonesty, Destruction or Theft of Academic Resources, Obstructing Access, or Other Acts that interfere with another person's work

Definition:  Seeking to gain an unfair advantage by lying, stealing, restricting access to facilities and data, destroying or damaging resources, corrupting the research environment, or otherwise interfering with someone else's work; preventing or attempting to prevent another person from utilizing authorized assistance and resources.


  • stealing, destroying, disabling equipment necessary for academic research or instruction
  • stealing, destroying, damaging, or corrupting the products of academic work (e.g., tests, projects, lab reports, research papers, data files)
  • deleting or tampering with another person's data or content in a project, test, or assignment
  • attempting to diminish another person's performance by creating disturbances or distractions during a presentation or assignment
  •  seeking special consideration by arranging/feigning loss of academic work through theft, tampering, damage, or destruction
  • obstructing another person's work by "losing" data, concealing evidence, hiding information or materials, lying, or creating any ruse that would prevent one person/group from obtaining equal access to resources that other people/groups can use freely .


Definition:  Presenting or submitting fraudulent information (i.e., information that has been altered or created for the purpose of deceiving one's audience, readers, instructors, or colleagues).


·         padding a bibliography by inventing sources or including sources one has not consulted

  • padding an assignment or project by falsifying, altering, or inventing evidence (i.e., data, references, citations) to support one's argument or conclusions .


Definition:  Posing or presenting one's self as another person or stealing the identity of another person.  (Coercing or encouraging someone to assume the identity of a third party is similarly offensive to the integrity of the university as an academically and socially responsible community.)


  • taking a test or exam for another student
  • attending class or claiming attendance for another student
  • using another person's identification card to take advantage of university services (e.g., checking out library materials) without his/her permission
  • submitting for course credit work that was created by another person
  • asking a third party to impersonate a supervisor, teacher, doctor, parent, employer, or other person whose report might help or hurt a person's evaluation

Improper Collaboration

Definition:  Attaching one's name to a group project without: (1) an authentic understanding of the work submitted, (2) a fair and proportional contribution to the efforts of the collaborating group, and/or (3) the ability to defend or interpret individually the work submitted.


  • claiming or submitting for credit another person's work in a collaborative exercise
  • including, citing, summarizing, or paraphrasing another person's contribution without a proper understanding of the other person's contribution, idea, or source
  • including one's name on a project without contributing significantly to its development
  • pooling answers and working collectively on a test or project when individual work is required

Improper Use of Computers

Definition:  Using computers to obtain or distribute improper/illegal communications; degrading, compromising, or tampering with computer files, equipment, and systems; circumventing systems that are protected; using computers to cheat.


  • downloading or transmitting libelous material, obscene or offensive messages, or threats
  • using computers to harass, intimidate, or make trouble for another person
  • hacking, circumventing protection codes, obtaining/using another person's password without permission, invading protected files
  • deleting, changing, or introducing erroneous information into grade records, confidential files, or another user's files (whether protected or not)
  • constructing viruses or knowingly introducing viruses into a system; attempting to halt the system or to compromise its performance
  • stealing software or copying programs and data without written permission
  • cheating, obtaining/using unauthorized material, supplying/communicating unauthorized information to another user
  • using a stand-in respondent or substitute participant in an online course

Misrepresentation of Academic Records

Definition:  Submitting incomplete or altered transcripts, grade reports, standardized test scores, or other records that one knows to be inaccurate or incomplete.


  • failing to provide the Admissions Office or the Registrar's Office with relevant reports or records from all schools previously attended
  • tampering with official records (e.g., changing grades) or inventing facsimiles of official records
  • stealing or borrowing another person's records and using them as if they were one's own

Multiple Submission

Definition:  Fulfilling requirements in a second/subsequent course by submitting substantially similar work from a previous course, unless permission was obtained in advance from the second/subsequent instructor.  (If the same/similar work would be submitted in courses meeting concurrently, permission must be obtained in advance and separately from each instructor.)


  • using the same paper or project in a second course after it was used already to meet requirements in a previous course
  • altering a paper or project slightly, but using essentially the same product (i.e., concepts, ideas, evidence, supporting data, rhetorical devices, conclusions) to fulfill requirements in separate courses


Definition:  Appropriating or imitating the words, ideas, data, and/or thoughts of others and using them as if they were one's own (i.e., without appropriate attribution).


  • purchasing, borrowing, or stealing material from published or unpublished sources (e.g., from the Internet, books/articles, other students) and submitting it as one's own work
  •  failing to acknowledge the sources for material or ideas in either written or oral presentations; failing to use quotation marks, parenthetical documentation, and/or notes appropriately
  • inserting into one's writing any material, even a small portion, written by someone else and claiming it as one's own product
  • using paraphrased or summarized material without acknowledging the source; acknowledging the source of a paraphrase or summary but using too many words and phrases from the original source .

Procedures for Handling Incidents of Academic Misconduct

First Review Process

As a rule, acts of academic misconduct should be addressed first at the level at which the incident occurred (e.g., course level).  If an infraction occurred unwittingly or unintentionally, the faculty member may decide to handle the case as a "teachable moment."  However, when a faculty member suspects that a student has with knowledge and intent violated the standards that govern academic conduct at USF, the faculty person shall document his/her suspicions and keep on file all evidence related thereto, including any material evidence, written work, written comments, e-mail, verbal exchanges, telephone calls, or any other contact he/she may have with persons involved in the case.  The initial review shall be held no later than five business days after the alleged infraction was discovered.  This meeting should include both the faculty member and the student whose conduct is in question.  The review process should be completed as soon as possible, and the faculty member shall report his/her decision to the student in writing no later than forty-eight hours after concluding the initial review.  The faculty member shall keep a copy of this letter on file and send duplicate copies to both the Senior V.P. for Academic Affairs and the Dean of Students

Second Review Process

If a student thinks the first review process was incomplete or unfair, she/he may ask the Chairperson of the Area in which the problem arose to review again the facts of the case and to provide an advisory opinion.  This request must be submitted in writing to the Area Chairperson no later than five business days after the first review process was completed.  Students who request a second review may also choose a person from the university community to  participate in discussions and to represent their interests during the second review process.

Appeals Process

The Academic Policies Committee (APC) for undergraduate students or the Graduate Policies Committee (GPC) for graduate students serves as the appellate body for those students seeking appeal.  This appeal must be in writing and must be received by the Senior V.P. for Academic Affairs within 14 days of the original decision.  The decision by the APC or GPC is final.


Because circumstances will vary from one instance of academic misconduct to another, there is no prescribed penalty for each offense.  As an alternative to a prescribed table of penalties, faculty members may attempt to match the severity of the penalty with the egregiousness of the misconduct.  The following examples suggest a range of penalties that might fit offenses of various kinds.

  • requiring a student to rewrite or redo an assignment
  • giving a grade of F on a project, test, or assignment
  • issuing a disciplinary warning
  • requiring a student to write a paper about the offense
  • giving a grade of F for a course
  • putting a student on disciplinary probation
  • requiring a student to make restitution for damaged data or equipment
canceling a student's campus computer privileges or access to the campus computer network