How to avoid academic misconduct

While most students try to work honestly, many find it difficult to identify where the line is drawn between academic integrity and academic misconduct. The list below are real examples of actions that got students into trouble under Policy 71 - Student Discipline. Click on the following links to get more information about how to avoid academic misconduct.

These are guidelines to help students understand general expectations for working with integrity, but the expectations may vary. Always read your instructor's guidelines carefully, including the course outline, assignment and test instructions, and LEARN announcements.

Note: the typical penalties for a first offence under Policy 71 range from zero on the assignment plus an additional 5% final grade reduction to failure in the course plus a suspension. In addition, all findings of guilt include disciplinary probation.

If you have any questions, please contact Aziza Chaudhry.

Working with others


  • Ask your TAs and instructors for help to better understand course materials
  • Discuss course concepts and lecture materials with friends
  • Join a study group to help clarify course concepts, remind each other of upcoming due dates and provide motivation to elaborate your learning


  • Ask a friend for help with answering an assignment or test question
  • Tell a friend your answer to an assignment or test question
  • Exchange photos or screenshots of assignment or test questions or answers

Working too closely with a friend or classmate is one of the most common issues that leads to a violation of academic misconduct. Most assignments and tests are to be completed individually. While you are encouraged to work with others to better your understanding of course material, you should not be working together to complete assignments or tests (unless your instructor explicitly indicates that this is permitted).

Joining a group chat


  • Actively participate in instructor-created group discussion boards (e.g. LEARN, Microsoft Teams, Piazza)
  • Create a study group with classmates that you trust or who have a similar work ethic
  • Leave a group chat immediately if you have joined a student-created group and you observe students discussing assignment or test questions


  • Post assignment or test questions in the group chat or anywhere else online
  • Ask for help in a group chat in answering an assignment or test question
  • Use information posted in a group chat to complete your assignment or test

While group chats can be helpful for meeting classmates, discussing course concepts and motivating you to continue following the course material, the content posted in student-created group chats is unmanaged. Passive participation in a group chat where the assignment or test answers are being circulated can create a temptation to ‘check’ your answers to an assignment. The easiest way to prevent using an unauthorized aid posted on a group chat is to avoid these forums altogether.

Group assignments


  • Find a time that works for all members of the group to contribute (virtually, if necessary) to the assignment
  • Work together to solve each question being asked and only consult allowable resources
  • Inform the instructor of challenges you are facing with an uncooperative group member, especially if you have concerns about the integrity of the group's submission


  • Use a “divide and conquer” approach to complete the group assignment (i.e. distribute the answers among group members and complete them independently)
  • Ask a friend who is not part of your group for help with your group's submission
  • Tell a friend the answers your group has compiled

When working on a group assignment, your name is on the submission so you are responsible for the integrity of the entire submission. If you divide up the questions among group members, then it is difficult to identify if your group member used an unauthorized source. It is much more productive to your learning and your integrity to work collaboratively with the whole group by working through each question or section of an assignment.

Finding information


  • Cite all of the sources you use to complete an assignment or test
  • Use your course notes, lectures and assigned materials as the basis of information for completing assignments
  • Synthesize information to explain concepts in your own words
  • Conduct research on course concepts to clarify or elaborate your understanding
  • Review your submission in Turnitin, if available
  • Ask your TAs and instructors for help to better understand course materials
  • Contact the subject matter library liaison for assistance


  • Google your assignment or test questions
  • Compare your answers to assignment questions to those posted by 'experts' on social learning sites (like Chegg and Course Hero) 
  • Copy word-for-word from other resources
  • Paraphrase information from an external resource by rewording sentences or paragraphs
  • Ask an online 'expert' for help

Always read assignment instructions carefully to understand what resources are permitted and what the expectations are around citations. If only your course notes and materials are permitted for an assignment, any extra ‘notes’ you took from external sources (e.g. Wikipedia or notes from friends from last year) are likely disallowed. If you consult online sources to complete an assignment, the source should be cited next to the ideas you used and listed in a references section to the assignment submission. Consult the Resources for Improved Writing Skills for more information.

Working under pressure


  • Sleep, eat well and exercise (this can be hard, but it's crucial!)
  • Accept a late penalty if your only other option is to compromise your academic integrity. If there is no late penalty detailed in the course outline, ask your instructor. Don't submit an assignment if you compromised your integrity (it's not worth it!).
  • If you are facing exceptional circumstances, ask your instructor for an extension
  • Find more effective time management strategies


  • Ask a friend to help you finish your assignment or complete your test
  • Use a resource that’s not permitted

Being stressed or pressed for time often causes students to make poor decisions and compromise their academic integrity. Learning to work under pressure and manage your time are important life skills, and recognizing when to take a step back is important. If you are struggling with meeting deadlines or with managing stress, consult these resources: UW Library Assignment Planner, Student Success Office Learning Resources and Academic Development Opportunities, and Campus Wellness Seminars.

Managing academic materials


  • Save your course notes, course outlines, and assignments for future reference
  • Share study notes that you wrote with a friend who needs help (as an attachment or photo)
  • Use resources provided by your course instructor and the recommended course textbook


  • Post your instructor’s notes, assignments or tests on social learning sites (e.g. Chegg, Course Hero, StuDocu) - this is theft of intellectual property!
  • Accept assignment or test solutions from a friend
  • Access a test bank to study, unless the resource was directly provided or recommended by your instructor
  • Share instructor’s notes, assignments or tests with a friend
  • Share your course cloud folder with a friend

Your instructors’ notes, assignments and tests are their intellectual property. If you post them online or share them with a friend, you are committing theft of intellectual property. Similarly, by accessing assignment or test solutions (including test banks), you are receiving confidential academic material. These are both serious academic misconduct violations that can incur a two-term suspension. Be careful when sharing your course notes with a friend; if you share the information through the cloud be sure that they won’t be able to access your other course documents like assignments and test answers.