Centres for Academic Writing

There are a number of centres for academic writing throughout the various faculties. They provide invaluable services to students such as giving workshops and one-to-one tutoring in the writing process.

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Senate Policy on Academic Honesty

# : Sen 002

Description: Policy and procedure defining and regulating kinds of academic dishonesty

Notes: Approved by Senate Appeals Committee; Original version approved by Senate: 1988/05/26; Revised: 1994/06/23 and 1995/06/22; Date Effective: 1988/05/26

Approval Authority: Senate
Signature: "Malcolm Ransom"


Conduct that violates the ethical or legal standards of the University community or of one's program or specialization may result in serious consequences. The Policy on Academic Honesty is a reaffirmation and clarification for members of the University of the general obligation to maintain the highest standards of academic honesty. It outlines the general responsibility of faculty to foster acceptable standards of academic conduct and of the student to be mindful of and abide by such standards.

B. The Role of Faculty Members and Students

A clear sense of academic honesty and responsibility is fundamental to good scholarship. Faculty members should include consideration of academic honesty in both courses and research settings. Such guidance is particularly important for students who assume independent roles as course assistants or begin to conduct their own original work. Every student has a responsibility to abide by these standards and, when in doubt, to consult with faculty members in order to determine a proper course of action.

C. Pressures That May Lead to Academic Misconduct

University education includes demands that might tempt some to violate standards of academic honesty. There are pressures on students to achieve high grades, obtain financial support, meet research or publication deadlines, gain recognition from the scholarly community, and secure employment. Although faculty members can help students to maintain academic honesty despite these pressures, each student has final responsibility for her or his academic honesty.

D. Serious Offences Against the Standards of Academic Honesty

Note. This summary is not exhaustive. In some cases the University regulations on non-academic discipline may apply. Some academic offences constitute offences under the Criminal Code of Canada; a student charged under University regulations may also be subject to criminal charges. Charges may also be laid against York University students for matters which arise at other educational institutions.

Cheating is the attempt to gain an improper advantage in an academic evaluation.

Among the forms this kind of dishonesty can take are: obtaining a copy of an examination before it is officially available or learning an examination question before it is officially available; copying another person's answer to an examination question; consulting an unauthorized source during an examination; obtaining assistance by means of documentary, electronic or other aids which are not approved by the instructor; or changing a score or a record of an examination result.

It is also improper to submit the work one has done for one class or project to a second class, or as a second project, without getting the informed consent of the relevant instructors. Acceptance of one piece of work that is submitted for two classes must be arranged beforehand. It is understood that students may wish to build on previous research in the preparation of a paper but students must also be aware that such a practice may run afoul of the intention of the assignment. In all such cases the student must discuss the matter with the instructors and receive written permission beforehand.

It is a breach of academic honesty to have someone impersonate one's self in class, in a test or examination, or in connection with any other type of assignment in a course. Both the impersonator and the individual impersonated may be charged.

Plagiarism and other misappropriation of the work of another:
Plagiarism is the representation of another person's ideas or writing as one's own. The most obvious form of this kind of dishonesty is the presentation of all or part of another person's published work as something one has written. However, paraphrasing another's writing without proper acknowledgement may also be considered plagiarism. It is also a violation of academic honesty to represent another's artistic or technical work or creation as one's own. Just as there are standards to which one must adhere in the preparation and publication of written works, there are standards to which one must adhere in the creation and presentation of music, drawings, designs, dance, photography and other artistic and technical works. In different forms, these constitute a theft of someone else's work. This is not to say that students should not use the work of others with the proper acknowledgement.

Improper research practices:
Many academic activities may involve the collecting, analyzing, interpreting, and publishing of information or data obtained in the scientific laboratory or in the field. Opportunities to deviate from acceptable standards may be more numerous in research than in the classroom, as research activities may be supervised less closely. Forms of improper research practices include the dishonest reporting of investigative results either through fabrication or falsification, taking or using the research results of others without permission or due acknowledgment, misrepresentation of research results or the methods used, the selective reporting or omission of conflicting information or data to support a particular notion or hypothesis. Furthermore, all researchers have a responsibility to refrain from practices that may unfairly inhibit the research of others now or later. This responsibility extends to York University students in other institutions or countries.

Dishonesty in publication:
In most instances the objective of scholarly research is the dissemination of information, usually in the form of a written and published work. Indeed, in many disciplines career advancement is often based largely on the number and quality of an individual's publications. It is a violation of academic honesty to knowingly publish information that will mislead or deceive readers. This includes the falsification or fabrication of data or information, as well as the failure to give credit to collaborators as joint authors or the listing as authors of others who have not contributed to the work. Plagiarism is also considered a form of dishonesty in publication.

Premature oral or written dissemination of information:
Information or experimental data that was collected with a member of the faculty or another student, and other works that involved the participation of a faculty member or another student should not be submitted for publication prematurely, without appropriate permission.

Abuse of confidentiality:
A student may be asked to help in the evaluation of confidential grant proposals, award applications, or manuscripts that will be or may have been submitted for possible funding or publication. Taking or releasing the ideas or data of others that were given with the expectation that they are confidential is inappropriate. Unless one is authorized to do so, it is improper to obtain a password assigned to another or to copy or modify a data file or program belonging to someone else. Proper authorization means being granted permission either by the owner or originator of that material, or by a faculty member, or an appropriate administrator. Similarly, one should not violate the integrity of a computer system to harass another user or operator, damage software or hardware or evade appropriate monetary charges.

Falsification or unauthorized modification of an academic record:
It is a breach of academic honesty to falsify, fabricate or in any other way modify a

  • student examination
  • transcript
  • grade
  • letter of recommendation or
  • related document.

Other breaches of academic honesty include:

  • making false claims or statements
  • submitting false information
  • altering official documents or records
  • attempting or causing others to do or attempt any of the above with intent to mislead an:
    1. instructor
    2. an academic unit
    3. program
    4. office or
    5. committee

as to a student's academic status, qualifications, actions or preparation.

Failure to divulge previous attendance at another post-secondary institution on an admissions application is also a violation.

Obstruction of the academic activities of another:
It is a violation of academic honesty to interfere with the scholarly activities of another in order to harass or gain unfair academic advantage. This includes interference or tampering with experimental data, with a human or animal subject, with a written or other creation (e.g., a painting, sculpture or film), with a chemical used for scientific study, or with any other object of study.

Aiding or abetting academic misconduct:
Knowingly aiding or abetting anyone in a breach of academic honesty shall itself be considered misconduct. This may include assisting others in the preparation of work submitted for appraisal or offering for sale essays or other assignments with the intention that these works would be submitted for appraisal.

York's Senate Policy on Academic Honesty

1. The Key Points

All students should be familiar with York's Senate Policy on Academic Honesty, which defines and clarifies York's commitment to maintaining the highest standards of academic honesty. In particular, the policy:

  • Explains why academic honesty is a fundamental value that is important for all students to maintain;
  • Observes that a breach of academic honesty is considered one of the most serious offenses at York;
  • Defines the types of conduct that are regarded as academic offenses, including plagiarism, cheating, impersonation, and other forms of academic misconduct;
  • Defines the penalties that can be given to a student who is found to have committed plagiarism or any other form of academic offense;
  • Outlines the procedures for dealing with students who are accused of committing an academic offense.

2. Avoiding an Offense

In order to avoid the possibility of violating York's Senate Policy on Academic Honesty , students should ensure that they:

1. Know about and understand the Senate Policy on Academic Honesty. (In fact, ignorance of the Senate Policy is no excuse for those accused of academic misconduct)

2. Produce honest academic work

3. Consult your instructors in instances where you are not sure whether a certain course of action would result in academic misconduct

4. Discourage others from violating standards of academic integrity

The Senate Policy recognizes that there are many pressures on students that may lead to Academic Misconduct, such as achieving high grades, meeting deadlines, etc. However, "despite these pressures, each student has final responsibility for his or her academic honesty" (section 1, emphasis added).

The best way to cope with the pressure of your student responsibilities is to develop strong academic skills. York offers many resources to help you to develop your writing and academic skills, including the Faculty of Arts Centre for Academic Writing, the Atkinson Essay Tutoring Centre, the Glendon College Writing Workshop, the Bethune College Writing Centre, the Environmental Studies Writing Program, the Counselling and Development Centre's Learning Skills Program, and York Libraries' Online Help with Research.