Your responsibilities

Academic integrity can be defined as the commitments:

  • uphold honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and
  • to take responsibility and to show courage in your learning journey.

Academic integrity is also about following the specific practices (like acknowledging sources) and restrictions (like accessing only permitted help during an exam).

Students are responsible to become knowledgeable and informed about academic integrity practices expected of them in their programs and courses. 

To live up to this responsibility, students need to learn about the expectations and develop the skills for successful learning with academic integrity and avoiding academic misconduct. 

What students should do:

The University Library offers a tutorial especially for students who are new to the academic integrity expectations at USask and/or new to Canadian higher education.

Some courses or programs require completion of this tutorial. Some courses may direct you to the tutorial through Canvas. You can generate proof of completion from the Library version which may save you repeating the tutorial in other courses.

Ask for clarification whenever you are uncertain about expectations.
  • Read the syllabus and other instructions carefully in each of your courses.
  • Recognize that there can be different kinds of expectations for different assignments and in different courses; ask for clarification.
  • Understand when and how you can work with others to learn; ask for clarification.
  • Ask for clarification – it’s worth saying again – instructors would rather answer your questions than need to respond to potential academic misconduct.

  • Take care of yourself; get support when you need it.
  • Develop your study, writing and other kinds of academic skills.
  • Enhance your own interest and motivation in the course.
  • Manage your time; start assignments early.
  • Focus on course materials and resources your instructor has recommended; avoid other homework help sites especially those with subscription fees.

  • Expect to be held responsible for the assessments you submit. 
  • Learn how to avoid plagiarism. 
  • Include appropriate acknowledgements when GenAI like ChatGPT has been used. People are authors; tools are not.
  • Complete work individually when required. When you submit an assignment under your name only, you are showing what you can do and what you know. 
  • Share the work and the credit when you are part of a pair or group. When you submit an assignment with the names of those in your group, the group is responsible.

  • Share study strategies and help each other learn, not cheat.
  • Show courage and respect for yourself and the learning environment, by sticking with academic integrity even when you encounter opportunities for academic misconduct or others who are cheating.
  • Support learning and be a positive role model to others. 

Avoid academic misconduct

This information is not a substitute for the academic misconduct regulations or the expectations for academic integrity provided by programs or instructors. It is general advice for students about how to maintain academic integrity and avoid academic misconduct in common situations. Refer to expectations stated by your professor or instructor and ask them directly for clarification to ensure understanding and whenever you are uncertain.

Students know they shouldn’t cheat on tests or exams; they shouldn’t copy or plagiarize the work of others; they shouldn’t misrepresent the truth or commit fraud; they shouldn’t contribute to academic misconduct.

What students may not know is how these basics apply in university-level study, or what this means in Canadian higher education compared to other places in the world.

What students should do:

Forms of academic misconduct are named in the USask Academic Misconduct RegulationsThis is where you find the official definitions on pp. 6 – 8. 

Here are some additional definitions that will help you interpret what you read in the regulations or what you see on a course syllabus or assessment instructions. 

Common Term Problem this creates
Plagiarism 
Generally, this means using ideas, words, content, or structures without appropriately acknowledging the source.
Makes it seem that the student did the work or the thinking or the creating when they did not.
Cheating 
Generally, this refers to when a person in an exam or in-class assessment setting uses unpermitted assistance or materials to gain an advantage.   
Mispresents what the student knows or can do unassisted.  
 Collusion 
Generally, this means working with other students or other people in a way that is not permitted to complete an assessment. 
Misrepresents what the student can do on their own. 
 Falsification or fraud 
Generally, this means deceiving or lying about any number of things that could give an academic advantage. It could relate to a grade, data, admission, accommodation.   
This is dishonesty or negligence and may misrepresent any number of things that could create significant problem. 
 Unauthorized distribution
Generally, this means taking materials or sharing information about an assessment when it is meant to be protected or secured.
Some students have advanced information that gives them an unfair advantage.
 Sabotaging others
Generally, this means trying to prevent access to learning materials or opportunities of other students.
This is a terrible way to treat other people and its unfair.   
 Bribery or threats
Generally, this means improperly trying to convince someone to give you an unfair advantage.  
Unethical, unprofessional and possibly illegal – where academic advantage is involved – academic misconduct.   

Ask for clarification when you need it!
  • Different instructors, courses, and program may handle what seems like the same assessment differently.
    • Examples: when to acknowledge, how to cite, how closely you can work with your peers, what you can access during an exam or test.
  • The syllabus is one of the places where instructors are to make academic integrity expectations clear. Always read your syllabus and other instructions about specific assessments.

Completing assessments under the conditions they were designed for, matters. 

"Failure to observe any stated rule with regard to the procedures used in an examination, assessment, or an activity undertaken for academic credit where such a failure could result in the student gaining relatively greater credit" Regulations, p 6.

“Cheating” generally refers to when a person in an exam or in-class assessment setting uses unpermitted assistance or materials to gain an advantage. 

Instructors set the conditions under which they want an assessment completed (e.g., invigilated exam, in-class essay, take home exam, “open book”, calculators, etc.). 

Students are responsible for making sure they understand what the expectations are. 

  • Read your syllabus and any assessment instructions closely.
  • Only bring or access permitted materials or devices – normally an instructor makes what is permitted clear.
  • Only communicate with those you are permitted to – normally this is limited to the instructor or a teaching assistant.
  • Clarify any questions or confusions with your instructor ahead of time, but also during the exam or in-class assessment if necessary.
  • Refrain from bringing anything that could cause academic misconduct concerns like extra items.
  • Place anything you may need to access during the assessment on the tabletop in clear sight so that you don't need to search for it in your bag or pockets.

Learning to incorporate the work of others responsibly, matters.

“Plagiarism” generally refers to when a person presents an idea or work or sections of work as though they have created it when they did not. Now, with GenAI tools, it could also be plagiarism of GenAI generated content. 

Citation practices provide a standardized format for acknowledging the ideas, text, and other kinds of work that are not original to the author. Different disciplines and subject areas use different citation practices.

  • Learn how to use the citation practices (also called referencing conventions) 
  • Use citation generators to manage and log references 
  • Attend workshops, use the writing centre services  
  • Set out a timeline for working on larger assessments to avoid procrastination or last-minute academic misconduct.
  • Ask to focus your assessment on a topic or area that you find personally motivating and interesting when possible – this will also help with the problem of procrastination.
  • Get explicit permission to reuse or reword your own previous work – if you don’t, this could be “self-plagiarism”. Important example of academic misconduct defined in the regulations:

"Using work done in one class in fulfillment of any requirement of another class unless approval is obtained from the instructor by whom the material is being evaluated." (Regulations, p6, B c)

Truthfulness and transparency matter. 

The USask Academic Misconduct Regulations state: "What is essential is that another person have no doubt which words or research results are the student’s and which are drawn from other sources. Full explicit acknowledgement of the source of the material is required." Regulations, p7 B I

Authorship

  • Don’t use GenAI in ways your instructor does not permit.
  • Acknowledge use of GenAI in the way required by your instructor.
  • When a collaborative effort is expected in pairs or groups, be sure the contribution of each student meets the criteria.

Fraud

  • Be truthful and transparent in the collection of data, reasons for absences, requests for special consideration or accommodations.
  • Present complete and accurate records like transcripts or other documents used for applications or accommodation.

Impersonation

  • Complete your own assessments; bring your Student ID with you to assessments.
  • Do not arrange for someone else to complete assessments that you are to complete.
  • Don’t complete assessments on behalf of others.

Fairness in assessment matters.

Assisting another person engaged in academic misconduct is a form of academic misconduct itself—even if the person providing assistance receives no academic or other advantage themselves.

  • Do not share materials, questions or answers to other students when you are not permitted to do so.
  • Do not upload materials, questions or answers to study or homework websites or services.
  • Avoid study groups demonstrating unethical behavior such as obtaining exam answers or copying assignments.
  • Some file-sharing sites provide a platform for exchange of materials, but others provide access to contract cheating services – be aware of your use of third-party sites.
  • Do not remove materials from an exam room unless permitted by the instructor.

Manage stress

Avoid being under last minute pressure. Don't short-change yourself.

Often, the decision to engage in academic misconduct or questionable shortcuts is a decision taken at the last minute under pressure.

Research consistently shows that feelings of stress or being overwhelmed or that an assessment is of high personal stakes can lead students to feel desperate and that can lead to academic misconduct of a minor or major nature.

Students under stress become vulnerable to making bad decisions that constitute academic misconduct. 

It is essential to take care of yourself in order to prevent and manage tough situations.

What students can do:

  • Be gentle with yourself.
  • Take some time to think about what you want for yourself now and in the future.
  • Think through the situation and your options – academic misconduct is never the only option. Never.

Everyone needs help sometimes, especially when feeling overwhelmed. 
  • Talk to your instructor. You might be able to get an extension, or at least some advice.  
  • Reach out to Student Wellness and/or other people in your life who can help you think through your options and your next steps.
  • Contact your academic advising office about options.
  • Check out the Library's learning services.
  • Beware of asking for the wrong kind of help – the wrong kind has you avoid doing your own academic work and puts you in a position of hiding your true process.

  • Learn and show what you can do in an honest and transparent way 
  • Academic misconduct is not worth the numerous risks. 
    • In the near term, you risk an academic misconduct conversation with your instructor, an allegation, a request to resubmit or a grade penalty, and possibly a hearing with more significant sanctions.
    • In the medium term, you risk eligibility for other programs or opportunities if a case of academic misconduct appears on your academic record.
    • In the longer term, you risk your own sense of personal pride and integrity, plus you may not have learned what you need for your future.
  • Don’t shortchange yourself.

About GenAI

Learning to use technology responsibly and appropriately matters.

ChatGPT and other GenAI tools should not be used to complete assessments unless your instructor has given permission to do so.

What students can do:

  • Watch this video from the Harvard Business Review: A Non-Techies 10-Minute Guide to Using GenAI  (Microsoft Bing is the tool in use).
  • Learn more about GenAI at USask.

Asking questions when expectations are unclear is a student responsibility.

Generally, you can expect that instructors are more responsive to questions when they are asked early on and in a proactive way. Here are some examples of what to ask and how to ask instructors:

Issue Follow up Questions

Unclear, double-checking.

I am noticing different instructors have different rules about GenAI use – can I ask you a few questions?

  • Are there any uses of GenAI that would be okay on this assessment? If yes, what are they?
  • What is the right format for acknowledging the use or citing the content?
  • Does this apply to all the assessments in this course?

 Clarifying what is beyond permitted use.
 
You said we could use GenAI tools in some specific ways – can I ask you a few questions about what is permitted? 

  • Could you provide an example of an unacceptable use that is close to the line of what is permitted?
  • ChatGPT can do X, if I used it to X, would this be within or outside of the acceptable use?
  • What is the right format for acknowledging the use or citing the content?
  • Does this apply to all the assessments in this course?

 Clarifying about other forms of assistance.

You said we could not use GenAI tools on our assessments– can I ask you a few questions about other forms of assistance?

  • Is it okay to use the USask Writing/Math Help services (or peers, or TAs)? Some of what they do is similar to how I would use ChatGPT. 
  • Do you have resources to recommend for getting started on this assignment? 
  • There is tool X that provides Y help, is it GenAI? Is it permitted?  
  • Does this apply to all the assessments in this course?

Here are two relevant sections of the USask Academic Misconduct Regulations that may apply to academic misconduct involving GenAI use:

Unpermitted Assistance

= a student used a GenAI tool in a way that was not allowed.

  • See p. 6, point g (i) 
    “failure to observe any stated rule with regard to the procedures used in an examination, assessment, or an activity undertaken for academic credit where such a failure could result in the student gaining relatively greater credit” 

Missing or inadequate attribution 

= a student included content or ideas originating with or derived from GenAI but did not acknowledge the source 

  • See p.7, point l 
    “Adequate attribution is required. What is essential is that another person has no doubt which words or research results are the student’s, and which are drawn from other sources. Full explicit acknowledgment of the source of the material is required.” 
  • See p. 7, point l (ii) 
    “The verbatim use of oral or written material without adequate attribution” 

About working together

Instructors can encourage student collaboration in the form of study groups or working on homework together. There are lots of learning benefits to collaborating with peers.

Instructors can also set limits on student collaboration because they want you to practice on your own and want to see what you can do independently so that the feedback you get is specific to you and the grade is earned.

When student collaboration exceeds the limits, it can become a form of academic misconduct and gets called collusion or unauthorized collaboration. 

 What students need to know:

When you collaborate to learn, you may be doing things such as: 
  • Checking your understanding with your peers.
  • Asking or providing process help or guidance in a peer-instruction kind of format where students help each other learn.
  • Doing and submitting your own work.
  • Feeling at ease about telling your instructor about your process for working together.

When you are colluding, or taking the collaboration too far, you may be doing things such as:

  • Copying answers or providing answers to be copied.
  • Making minor modifications to someone else’s answers to make copying harder to detect.
  • Splitting up the work of assessments to save time, effort or to meet looming due dates (e.g., you do this week’s assignment, I’ll do next week’s).
  • Providing or receiving information that gives an unfair advantage on an assessment.
  • Feeling you should hide that you are working together from the instructor.

"Homework help" websites

Sometimes students look on-line for learning support and additional help outside of typical instructor office hours or normal library help hours. This may take you to “study help” or “homework” websites that present themselves as professional or genuine supports to those who subscribe (i.e. pay) for their services. These sites may show up at the top of web searches, in ads, or find you on social media.

Some sites are associated with something called “contract cheating” where a third party completes work, with or without payment, for a student, who then submits the work as their own.

Habits you have formed by sharing and connecting online via social media may not translate to norms for academic integrity and put you at risk of academic misconduct.

What students should do:

Beware of these indicators that it might be a contract cheating or academic file-sharing site:

  • Access to materials, study guides, questions from past or current exams of your specific course.
  • “Homework help” or “test prep” in real time from experts at all times of day (they may operate 24/7 to appeal to students under time pressure).
  • “Essay help” from experts with different fees for work of different quality (an A paper costs X, a B paper costs Y).
  • More blatant, the site may make statements such as work is “plagiarism-free” or “original” or “undetectable” to imply that using what they provide for academic misconduct is low-risk.
  • More deceptive, some are intentionally trying to lure inexperienced students or students who may be experiencing language difficulties.
  • Incentives to post assessment details or “unlock credits” to find completed assignments or other materials that should be protected by copyright.
  • “Disclaimers” that the work the service provides should not be submitted as a students’ own work as way to claim innocence in any academic misconduct by a student.
  • Asking for student log in details to Canvas or PAWS so that they can see what the course is about or what the assessment details are. 
 Never, never give your log in details to third parties.

  • You are getting others to do work you are meant to do yourself.
  • You are sharing files, posting assignments, test or exam questions to the site that are not meant to be openly available (this can be assistance to others to engage in academic misconduct).
  • You are hiring an individual (or being hired yourself) to complete work or provide answers.
  • You are purchasing and/or using other people’s work.

  • At USask, instructors hold copyright over their teaching and assessment materials.  
  • Do not provide access to, upload, distribute, trade or copy any of your course materials without the instructor's permission.
  • While you might be able to post your own answers to a file-sharing site and not be in a copyright violation, you could be facilitating the academic misconduct of others and be held responsible for academic misconduct as a result. 
  • Watch out for incentives such as “unlock credits” that reward posting assignments and ultimately assist academic misconduct.

  • USask instructors and officials can pay for access to these sites and search for copyrighted material. 
  • Material can be removed, and the names or email address of students involved in posting copyrighted material may be shared by the service.

Here are some ways contract cheating sites target and prey on student stress:

  • Using pop-up chat sessions on websites where a live person may try to convince a purchase of a paper or assignment.
  • Targeting students in multiple online spaces – watching for high pressure times of year, or students saying they are under pressure.
  • Creating fake student groups for specific courses.
  • Targeting students studying in another language (like some international students and some Canadian students).
  • Reporting and extorting students:  
    • Threatening to report students who make a customer complaint about their service.
    • Insisting that if students don’t pay for a next level service or just pay more money, they will email the institution in which you are enrolled.
Stories of blackmail:

For support