Defining Academic Misconduct
The University defines academic misconduct as “any action or attempted action that may result in creating an unfair academic advantage for oneself or an unfair academic advantage or disadvantage for any other member or members of the academic community” (UC Berkeley Code of Student Conduct).*
When the topic of academic misconduct comes up, we usually think of cheating and plagiarism. It is a much broader concept, however. Here are other examples of academic misconduct:
Interfering with course materials:
- Removing, defacing, or deliberately keeping from other students library materials that are on reserve for specific courses.
- Contaminating laboratory samples or altering indicators during a practical exam, such as moving a pin in a dissection specimen for an anatomy course.
Theft or damage of intellectual property:
- Selling, distributing, website posting, or publishing course lecture notes, handouts, readers, recordings, or other information provided by an instructor, or using them for any commercial purpose, without the express permission of the instructor. (The University’s policy about note-taking specifies several protections for instructor-authored content, including the content that you as an instructor develop, against distribution to people outside the course without the instructor’s prior written consent, and against commercial profit by students.**)
- Sabotaging or stealing another person’s assignment, book, paper, notes, experiment, project, or electronic hardware or software.
- Improper access to, or electronically interfering with, the property of another person or of the University via computer or other means.
Disturbances in the classroom can also serve to create an unfair academic advantage for oneself or disadvantage for another member of the academic community. Here are some examples that may violate the Code of Student Conduct:
- Interfering with the course of instruction to the detriment of other students.
- Disrupting classes or other academic activities in an attempt to stifle academic freedom of speech.
- Failing to comply with the instructions or directives of the course instructor.
- Phoning in falsified bomb threats.
- Unnecessarily activating a fire alarm.
Providing false information or representation, or fabricating or altering information:
- Furnishing false information in the context of an academic assignment.
- Failing to identify yourself honestly in the context of an academic obligation.
- Fabricating or altering information or data and presenting it as legitimate.
- Providing false or misleading information to an instructor or any other University official.
Altering University documents:
- Altering a previously graded exam or assignment for the purpose of a grade appeal or of gaining points in a re-grading process.
- Forging an instructor’s signature on a letter of recommendation or any other document.
- Submitting an altered transcript of grades to or from another institution or employer.
- Putting your name on another person’s exam or assignment.
Cheating and plagiarism are perhaps the most prominent forms of academic misconduct, and they are addressed in later sections of this chapter of the Teaching Guide for GSIs.
* Material on this page is drawn mainly from the UC Berkeley Center for Student Conduct and the GSI Professional Standards and Ethics Online Course, Module 5.