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UMass Amherst

Academic Honesty Policy and Procedures

The Ombuds Office handles all cases of academic dishonesty on campus (examples of dishonesty are listed below). There are two main pathways for resolving cases where dishonesty is suspected: the informal resolution and the formal charge.

Informal resolutions, approved by the Faculty Senate in 2007, are a fast-track way of handling dishonesty cases that may be inadvertent or less serious. In an informal resolution, the instructor and the student agree to a sanction (often a significant grade penalty and resubmission of assignment), complete and sign an informal resolution form describing the incident, and send it to the Ombuds Office. The record is then kept confidential in the Ombuds Office, unless the student receives three academic honesty charges (formal or informal), in which case the student will face official disciplinary action. The Ombuds Office has processed hundreds of informal resolutions since their establishment, and faculty and students have found them to be an efficient way of resolving these cases.

Formal charges, if upheld, result in a sanction and an entry in the student's discipline file. If an instructor formally charges a student with dishonesty, the student may appeal the charge, in which case a hearing is held and a determination is made by the Academic Honesty Board.

A more detailed description of the University's policy and procedures is below, or in the documents linked on the right.

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All members of the University community must participate in the development of a climate conducive to academic honesty. While the faculty, because of their unique role in the educational process, have the responsibility for defining, encouraging, fostering, and upholding the ethic of academic honesty, students have the responsibility of conforming in all respects to that ethic.

Intellectual honesty requires that students demonstrate their own learning during examinations and other academic exercises, and that other sources of information or knowledge be appropriately credited. Scholarship depends upon the reliability of information and reference in the work of others. Student work at the University may be analyzed for originality of content. Such analysis may be done electronically or by other means. Student work may also be included in a database for the purpose of checking for possible plagiarized content in future student submissions. No form of cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, or facilitating of dishonesty will be condoned in the University community.

Academic dishonesty includes but is not limited to:

  • Cheating - intentional use or attempted use of trickery, artifice, deception, breach of confidence, fraud and/or misrepresentation of one's academic work
  • Fabrication - intentional and unauthorized falsification and/or invention of any information or citation in any academic exercise
  • Plagiarism - knowingly representing the words or ideas of another as one's own work in any academic exercise. This includes submitting without citation, in whole or in part, prewritten term papers of another or the research of another, including but not limited to commercial vendors who sell or distribute such materials
  • Facilitating dishonesty - knowingly helping or attempting to help another commit an act of academic dishonesty, including substituting for another in an examination, or allowing others to represent as their own one's papers, reports, or academic works

Sanctions may be imposed on any student who has committed an act of academic dishonesty. Any person who has reason to believe that a student has committed academic dishonesty should bring such information to the attention of the appropriate course instructor as soon as possible.

Formal definitions of academic dishonesty, examples of various forms of dishonesty, and the procedures which faculty must follow to penalize dishonesty are contained in the Academic Honesty Policy.

The policy can also be found in the Code of Student Conduct, available on the Dean of Students web site.

If you are charged with a violation of the policy, you have the right to appeal. Appeals must be filed within ten days of notification by the Academic Honesty Office that a formal charge has been filed by an instructor who suspects dishonesty. Information on the appeals process is also contained in the Academic Honesty Policy. Appeals are filed in writing with the Ombuds Office.

Finally, more information about the policy can be found at the Faculty Senate's Academic Honesty Page or the Writing Program's Avoiding Plagiarism page.

Office Hours:

Monday - Friday
9 am - 5 pm
and by appointment

Contact Information:
Campus Center
Room 823
UMass Amherst
Amherst, MA 01003-9243
tel: (413) 545-0867
fax: (413) 545-9720
ombuds@ombuds.umass.edu