Code Of Student Behaviour

The COSB applies to all current and former students. It provides explicit rules about Inappropriate Academic Behaviour (30.3.2) which, in general, are meant to prevent students from gaining unearned academic advantage over others and to ensure that all students are evaluated fairly. While this guide refers to matters of academic integrity only, it is important to note that the COSB also includes non-academic offences, designed to uphold the rights of students and other members of the university community as they engage in their academic activities, knowing that the University protects their safety, security and dignity. 

The following provides definitions from the COSB as of February 2008, as well as commentary and examples of behaviours which would violate the COSB. Always refer to the Code of Student Behaviour online for the most up to date information.


30.3.2(1) No Student shall submit the words, ideas, images or data of another person as the Student’s own in any academic writing, essay, thesis, project, assignment, presentation or poster in a course or program of study. Students often think of plagiarism only as buying essays online or copying passages from the Internet; however, the University of Alberta definition includes a broad range of activities which may constitute plagiarism. 

Note that plagiarism can occur in written work or oral presentations, posters or any other assignments or academic writing.

Note also 
that this definition includes unintentional plagiarism. The basic assumption is that everything you submit for credit has been created entirely by you, unless you have identified it as coming from another source by using quotation marks, in-text citations, footnotes and/or a reference page or some other explicit acknowledgement; therefore, if you do not properly attribute the material you borrow from, you are incorrectly submitting the work as your own.

Some examples of plagiarism are:
  • Cutting and pasting material from an online source without quotation marks and proper attribution, even if no author is clearly named on the website.
  • Using another’s idea as your own without attribution, including paraphrasing without a citation to the original source.
  • Following the format and/or argumentation of an article without attribution.
  • Copying material from another student either in an assignment or as part of an essay.
  • Using data you did not collect on your own, without attribution, as the basis for your work.
  • Allowing another person to correct or rewrite your work before submitting it to the point where it no longer reflects your own writing and/or intellectual abilities.
  • Using a logo, graphic or cartoon you did not create, without permission and attribution.


30.3.2(2) a No Student shall in the course of an examination or other similar activity, obtain or attempt to obtain information from another Student or other unauthorized source, give or attempt to give information to another Student, or use, attempt to use or possess for the purposes of use any unauthorized material.

Examples include using or possessing notes (even if you did not use them, it is reasonable to assume they were created for the purpose of cheating), copying from another student, allowing another student to copy from you, programming information into electronic devices, receiving information on electronic devices (e.g., a cell phone), writing answers/formulas on any part of your body, receiving unauthorized assistance on a take-home exam, and so on.

30.3.2(2) b No Student shall represent or attempt to represent him or herself as another or have or attempt to have himself or herself represented by another in the taking of an examination, preparation of a paper or other similar activity. See also Misrepresentation of Facts in 30.3.6 (4). Having someone complete an assignment or exam for you, or doing so for them, requires premeditation and intent – two things that will increase sanctions in a case of cheating.

30.3.2(2) c No Student shall represent another’s substantial editorial or compositional assistance on an assignment as the Student’s own work. Tutors, editors and proofreaders must be used appropriately. It is important that the assignment reflect the work and abilities of the student whose name is on it. For a guideline, see the Department of English and Film Studies’ document on plagiarism and external assistance.

30.3.2(2) d No Student shall submit in any course or program of study, without the written approval of the course Instructor, all or a substantial portion of any academic writing, essay, thesis, research report, project, assignment, presentation or poster for which credit has previously been obtained by the Student or which has been or is being submitted by the Student in another course or program of study in the University or elsewhere.

Some people refer to this as self-plagiarism. While the term is not quite accurate, the COSB forbids taking shortcuts by submitting something for which you have already received credit or by using all or a portion of your own published works in another paper without citation. Notice that it is permissible to use work formerly submitted for credit with written approval from the course instructor.

30.3.2(2) e No Student shall submit in any course or program of study any academic writing, essay, thesis, report, project, assignment, presentation or poster containing a statement of fact known by the Student to be false or a reference to a source the Student knows to contain fabricated claims (unless acknowledged by the Student), or a fabricated reference to a source.

This overlaps to some extent with Misrepresentation of Facts (below). Some examples might be using a source known to be unreliable and attributing the material to a legitimate source, making up a reference or altering or fabricating lab results.

Misuse of Confidential Materials No Student shall procure, distribute, or receive any confidential academic material such as pending examinations, laboratory results or the contents thereof from any source without prior and express consent of the Instructor.This might include receiving old assignments from students in other sections/years of a course and using it in your own work, or gaining access to exams before they are given.

Misrepresentation of Facts

30.3.6(4) No Student shall misrepresent pertinent facts to any member of the University community for the purpose of obtaining academic or other advantage. Examples include, but are not limited to, providing false documentation to gain admission to the University of Alberta, altering or falsifying records relating to your academic performance, altering answers on a graded assignment or exam and requesting re-grading, or using a fraudulent excuse to obtain an exam deferral.

Participation in an Offence

30.3.6(5) No Student shall counsel or encourage or knowingly aid or assist, directly or indirectly, another person in the commission of any offence under this Code.
Helping someone to violate the COSB is also a violation of the COSB. You may be under pressure to “help” your friends, but understand that you put yourself at risk of charges if you help them do something you know to be wrong.


30.3.6(7) No student shall offer or provide a monetary or other benefit to any member of the University for the purpose of gaining academic or other advantage. Offering money, favours, or using personal relationships to gain unearned academic advantage is another activity that requires both premeditation and intent. It is entirely unacceptable in the academic context.