Academic Misconduct Appeal

An academic misconduct appeal is your opportunity to challenge a n academic misconduct charge or the penalty assigned for committing academic misconduct. Remember that you have the right to appeal.

Academic misconduct appeals are submitted to the Academic Integrity Office.

Download the Academic Misconduct Info Package below for a comprehensive guide to filing your grade appeal.

  1. What is Academic Misconduct?
  2. Avoiding Academic Misconduct
  3. Process/Levels
  4. Grounds & Resolutions
  5. Automatic Hearings
  6. Tips/Hints
  7. Forms/Downloads

Contact: Student Issues & Advocacy Coordinator | advocacy@rsuonline.ca | 416-979-5255 ext. 2322 

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1. What Is Academic Misconduct

Academic Misconduct is any action that negatively affects the integrity of the learning environment. There are many forms of academic misconduct that include actions such as:

  • Plagiarizing
  • Cheating
  • Using part of all of a previously submitted assignment for either the same or different class, without permission from the instructor
  • Submitting work that is someone else's and claiming that it's your own
  • Collaborating on an assignment without permission from instructor
  • Misrepresenting personal identity or performance
  • Submitting false information and/or documents
  • Damaging or tampering scholarly environment
  • Contributing to academic misconduct
  • Using copyrighted materials or unauthorized copying
  • Violating departmental policies on professional behaviour
A full list of Ryerson's definition of Academic Misconduct (Academic Dishonesty) can be found on page two and three of Policy 60: Student Code of Academic Conduct.

Contact: Academic Integrity Office | aio@ryerson.ca | 416-979-5000 ext. 2356
 

2. Avoiding Academic Misconduct

Tips to avoiding Academic Misconduct:

  1. Read your course outline, the University has a policy on Academic Student Code of Conduct, but department expectations may vary.
  2. If you think something might be academic misconduct, ask your professor before you hand in your paper, assignment or lab. Asking after you handed the paper in is not good enough and is often considered an offence even if it was a mistake.
  3. Opt-out of turnitin.com. Turnitin.com is a plagiarism detection device that professors at Ryerson University use to maintain Academic Integrity. However, this software is owned and operated by a for profit company. After you submit your paper on this website it compares your work to other works. Often, the comparison is a result of miss-quoted material or improper referencing. You can avoid being charged with academic misconduct if you opt out in the first 2 weeks of a course. You may be required to hand in rough notes and other material if you do. If you have any questions about opt out procedures, please contact the RSU Student Issues & Advocacy Coordinator.
  4. If you are unsure about what constitutes Academic Misconduct and you want to learn more, attend a free Academic Integrity Tutorial Workshop. You can sign up online and there are several different tutorials you can attend.
  5. Read Ryerson's Student Guide to Avoid Academic Misconduct.
Contact: Academic Integrity Office | aio@ryerson.ca | 416-979-5000 ext. 2356
 

3. Process/Levels

There is a formalized process for addressing Academic Misconducts. Below is a brief summary of the process. Please note that the process indicated below will sometimes be modified based on the circumstances of the case (number of academic misconducts, faculty-specific rules, etc).

i) Notification of Academic Misconduct/Scheduling of Discussion

Your instructor or the Academic Integrity Officer (AIO) is required to notify you if there is a suspicion that you may have committed an act of academic misconduct. This should be done in a confidential and appropriate manner.  The process is entirely confidential between the instructor, the AIO and you.

A mutually agreed upon time must be set to discuss these concerns within 5 working days from when you were initially notified by your instructor or the Academic Integrity Officer.  If you are not available during the proposed time, you can request to reschedule the meeting or call in via teleconference.

You have the right to request a Facilitated Discussion (FD) with the AIO rather than meet with the instructor alone. Requests for an FD must be done prior to the scheduling of the Non-Facilitated Discussion (NFD). You have the right to request that the RSU Student Issues & Advocacy Coordinator or a lawyer be present at a FD. Notice of attendance is required at least 24 hours in advance.

ii) Facilitated or Non-Facilitated Discussion

Facilitated: Meeting between the instructor and Academic Integrity Officer (AIO)

Non-Facilitated: Meeting with only the instructor

Prior to the initial discussion with your instructor, it is advisable to consult with the RSU Student Issues & Advocacy Coordinator in order to familiarize yourself with the academic policies and have a better idea of what to expect at this meeting.

Request a copy of the turnitin.com report prior to the meeting. Instructors are not obligated to provide the report before the meeting but some instructors do and it can be very helpful for preparation for the meeting.

At the meeting your instructor will ask you various questions related to the issue of concern. Remember: if you are arguing that you did not commit an academic misconduct avoid apologetic or guilty language. Doing so may weaken your future appeals.

For essays and assignments, your instructor may ask you questions about how and where you obtained your information. Be prepared to talk about where your information came from. It will be helpful to bring in your sources to this meeting, including draft notes, journals articles and references used in your assignment.

For exams, tests or assignments questions, your instructor may want to test your knowledge on the material by asking you to answer the same or similar questions. Be prepared to perform calculations or answer relevant questions.

After an FD or NFD, you should be contacted within five days of the outcome of the meeting.

Please download the Academic Misconduct Appeals Package below for more ways to prepare for an FD/NFD.

iii) Charged with Academic Misconduct

If your instructor decides to charge you with academic misconduct, you will automatically receive a "Disciplinary Notation" on your transcript. This remains on your transcript until you graduate from a degree or certificate program, or for 8 years for full-time students and 14 years for part-time students, whichever comes first.

Important: As of the Fall 2013, the DN will no longer appear on the transcript but on your internal academic record (Senate Approved policy change: June 4, 2013)

A penalty or penalties will also be assigned for students who are found to have committed academic misconduct. This can range from a "0″ for the assignment/test/exam to an "F" for the course. Recommendations for a "Disciplinary Suspension," "Disciplinary Withdrawal," from the program or "Expulsion" from the University can also be made.

For a second time offense a "Disciplinary Suspension" is automatically issued. Suspension can vary in length from 1 semester to 2 years, or varying penalties.

You have the right to appeal this charge within 10 business days of your receipt of the decision.

iv) Preparing Appeal of Academic Misconduct for AIC

You have the right to appeal the charge of academic misconduct and the right to have an advocate with you at the hearing. You can contact the Student Issues & Advocacy Coordinator to attend the hearing with you or you also have the option to hire legal representation at your own cost.

If you disagree with the charge, penalty, or both, you may submit an appeal to the Academic Integrity Council (AIC). Your appeal is submitted to the Academic Integrity Office on the 12th floor of Jorgensen Hall, JOR-1228.  Submit your appeal package in person, care of Renee De Laire.

The deadline to submit a misconduct appeal to the Academic Integrity Council is ten (10) working days from receipt of your instructor's decision based on the previous meeting.

An AIC misconduct appeal submission includes:

  • A completed form.  Please see form.
  • A written statement (letter) explaining why you do not feel that the charge is warranted.  For tips on how to get started on your letter, please see the Academic Misconduct Appeals Package below.
  • Summary of the Discussion of Suspicion of Academic Misconduct
  • Facilitated Discussion Decision letter
  • Evidence that proves the claims you make in your letter

For assistance or advice in writing your statement or compiling your appeal package, contact the RSU Student Issues & Advocacy Coordinator.

v) Appeal Hearing for AIC

After your appeal has been accepted, you will be contacted by the Academic Integrity Officer to schedule a hearing.

At the hearing, you will have an opportunity to make opening and closing statements explaining why you disagree with the charge of academic misconduct. You can contact the Student Issues & Advocacy Coordinator to attend the hearing with you or you also have the option to hire legal representation at your own cost.

Download the Academic Misconduct Appeals Package for a guide on the appeal hearing process and developing your opening and closing statements.

vi) Appeal of Academic Misconduct at Senate

If you are unsuccessful at the Academic Integrity Council you may choose to appeal at the Senate level. The process of appealing at the Senate level is near identical to the process of appealing at the AIC level. The appeal may be heard in conjunction with other relevant appeals such as Grade, Standing & Non-Academic Student Code of Conduct Appeals, if applicable. Please remember that appeals are most successful at the lower levels of appeal, so make your AIC appeal as strong as possible.

When filing an appeal at the Senate level, you are appeal the decision of the Academic Integrity Council on one or more of the following grounds:

  • There is new evidence that was not available at the time of the first hearing, which has a reasonable possibility of affecting the decision (must be provided within 60 working days of decision).
  • There was a substantial procedural error, which could have affected the outcome (must be appealed within 10 working days of the decision).
  • Inadequate weight was given to the evidence provided (must be appealed within 10 working days of the decision).
  • The Academic Integrity Council increased the original decision (must be appealed within 10 working days of the decision).

Senate misconduct appeal submission includes:

  • A completed form.  Please see form.
  • A written statement (letter) explaining why you do not feel that the charge or the AIC ruling is warranted.  For tips on how to get started on your letter, please see the Academic Misconduct Appeals Package below.
  • Summary of the Discussion of Suspicion of Academic Misconduct
  • Facilitated Discussion Decision letter
  • Retained copy of previous facilitated discussion and Academic Integrity Council appeal documents
  • New Evidence that proves the claims you make in your letter
For assistance or advice in writing your statement or compiling your appeal package, contact the RSU Student Issues & Advocacy Coordinator.
 

4. Grounds & Resolutions

If you are appealing an Academic Misconduct you should consider the grounds that you will appeal on. Unlike submitting a grade or standing appeal, there are not definitive grounds to appeal on. Are you appealing the charge (whether you have committed academic misconduct) or the penalty (whether the punishment fits the crime)?

There are three options that you can appeal on:

  • The charge
  • The penalty/penalties
  • The charge and the penalty/penalties

Remember that the lowest penalty that can be received if charged with academic misconduct is a zero on the assignment or test in question.

If you are having difficulty in determining if you have grounds to appeal or if the penalty is appropriate, contact the RSU Student Issues & Advocacy Coordinator.

 

5. Automatic Hearings

If you receive more than one Disciplinary Note (DN), or if you are recommended for Disciplinary Suspension (DS), Disciplinary Withdrawal (DW) or Expulsion you will have an automatic hearing with the Academic Integrity Council. An automatic hearing will not be scheduled until outstanding academic misconduct appeals are completed.

Because an automatic hearing is called when two DNs have been assigned, it is important for students to consider consulting with the RSU Student Issues & Advocacy Coordinator to determine the options available to students to appeal at different levels.

Automatic Hearings have special appeals forms and a checklist to ensure that all necessary contents are included.

 

6. Tips & Hints

Be Honest/Humble/Principled: Remember to be honest, humble and sincere in the different levels of appeal. Be forthcoming in providing information and thought patterns. However, do not feel guilt in an action you feel that you did not commit. Facilitated and Non-Facilitated Discussions can sometimes be pressuring and guilt-laden. Do not feel that you have to apologize, unless that is something that you feel is necessary and warranted. 

Be Proactive: Remember that if an issue arises, it is best to deal with it as soon as possible. Contact the RSU Student Issues & Advocacy Coordinator as soon as possible if you are unsure of the process or how to prepare for a discussion or appeal. Visit the Policies Guidance tab for more information on policy understanding.

Take Responsibility: As a student, it is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with the guidelines for academic conduct set out by your professors in your course syllabi and the senate policies set out by Ryerson University. These policies can be found at www.ryerson.ca/senate/policies. 

Attend a Workshop: The RSU and CESAR offer a range of workshops that will help you prepare your appeal and understand the process. Attend one of the Letter Writing workshops to prepare your appeals letter. Check the Workshops and Seminars section for more information.

Leave a Paper Trail: It is always important to have clear communication with your instructor, and other members of university. You might often trust the people you deal with on a day-to-day basis, but sometimes our memories can get the best of us! Speaking to your instructor and receiving verbal affirmations are good (whether it is clarification on citation problems, or an examination preparation lecture), and shows that you are a proactive student. However, it is also useful in the long run to have follow-up correspondences over e-mail. The reason for this is that if later something comes up, whether your instructor is being unfair or simply forgot that you have spoken to them, there is the proper documentation to demonstrate what actually took place.
 

7. Forms/Downloads

Download the Grade and Standings Appeal Information Package, last edited March 2017 below.

Relevant forms can be found on the Senate Forms page. Remember that each level of appeal has a different appeals form and checklist.

USEFUL LINKS


Contact
: Student Issues & Advocacy Coordinator | advocacy@rsuonline.ca | 416-979-5255 ext. 2322
 
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