Academic Integrity Graduate Handbook

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The University of Alberta places a very high value on academic integrity. Our Code of Student Behaviour (COSB) outlines what students are prohibited from doing and provides the rationale for those rules, noting that the value of our degree depends upon the integrity of the teaching and learning process, including the “honesty and soundness of the evaluation process.” (COSB §30.1). Without stringent standards for academic integrity, the evaluation process becomes flawed and, ultimately, unreliable, diminishing the value of the degree for everyone.

As straightforward as the concept of academic integrity might seem, it may carry different meanings for different people. Specific definitions may vary from institution to institution, adding to the confusion for graduate students who have attended other universities. International students may find Canadian cultural assumptions or customs associated with proper writing and citation bewildering. Students may not bother to read the COSB because they assume they already know what it says. This is a dangerous assumption that can lead to an inadvertent rule violation.

The COSB also lists possible sanctions for violations. A wide range of sanctions is available to decision makers, from a reprimand to grade reduction, suspension and expulsion. The consequences of these sanctions are particularly severe for graduate students. Even lesser sanctions can affect academic standing, scholarships and opportunities for future study.

Students are expected to engage in the highest level of honesty in their work. It is possible, however, to violate academic integrity even if you believed you were being honest. Each year, students who did not intend to deceive are charged under the COSB because they were careless.

Be aware, the onus is on students to understand the University of Alberta’s expectations regarding academic integrity. Not knowing is not an excuse.

This guide is designed to help. It refers to both the Code of Student Behaviour and the General Faculties Council Policy on Research and Scholarship Integrity. It is simply a guide and students are strongly encouraged to refer to the policies themselves. It is not intended to replace or supersede the policies and procedures in place.