How to handle Academic Dishonesty

Step 1: Gathering Information

collect any information that supports your suspicion of academic dishonesty
contact the Office of Academic Integrity (ext. 24303 or acinteg@mcmaster.ca) with your concerns to ensure that the student is precluded from withdrawing from the course to avoid penalty or sanction
contact the student to inform him/her of your concerns, and provide the student with a fair opportunity to respond (this is typically done in person)
based on your discussion(s) and a review of all relevant evidence, determine whether you think the student has committed academic dishonesty

Step 2: Checking Prior Offences

if you think the student has committed academic dishonesty, contact the Office of Academic Integrity to inquire whether it is his/her first such offence (ext. 24303 or acinteg@mcmaster.ca)

Step 3: Decision Making

If 1st Offence:

decide on the penalty to be imposed, usually one of two types:
  • a reduced mark on the piece of academic work
  • a grade of zero on the piece of academic work
  • inform the student in writing of this decision and his/her right to appeal
    in the event of a serious first offence, you may request that the case be heard by a Faculty Adjudicator, which may result in more severe penalties (see section below)


    If Serious 1st Offence, a graduate student, or a 2nd Offence:

    fill out the “ Reporting an Academic Dishonesty Case ” form and forward it to the Office of Academic Integrity

    that Office begins the process of referring the case to a Faculty Adjudicator

    it is the faculty member’s responsibility to present the evidence of academic dishonesty, both in writing, by submitting the foregoing report, and orally, at the hearing

    Additional Information:

    • If you experience difficulty reaching the student or receiving a response, sending a letter electronically to an e-mail address known to be used by the student, or a print copy by registered mail to the address on record with the Registrar’ s Office, indicating a specific deadline within which the student must respond (typically 10 days from the date the letter is sent), may be reasonable notice. After that deadline, you may proceed without the student’s of information.




    • Do Not return the relevant test, assignment, essay, etc. to the student, as in cases of academic dishonesty the original material and related paperwork is a critical part of the case. You may provide the student with a copy if he/she requests it.
    • If you are uncomfortable meeting with the student alone, you may nave another person attend the meeting (for instance, a TA). The student should be notified of this in advance, and informed of his or her right to also bring a support person.
    • However, set some guidelines, as you will be addressing your concerns to the student, who alone will be expected to speak to them. The support person may advise the student, but not speak on his or her behalf.
    • Consider timing and the nature of the case. Because the consequences of academic dishonesty may attract serious sanctions for the student, each case must be treated seriously and given the requisite time to properly process it. Sometimes, this takes place within a relatively short period of time, but sometimes it takes much longer.