University of Washington School of Public Health

Academic Integrity Policy


Students at the University of Washington (UW) are expected to maintain the highest standards of academic conduct, professional honesty, and personal integrity.

Academic misconduct harms the University and the broader academic community in many ways. Honest students are frustrated by the unfairness of cheating that goes undetected and unreported. Students who cheat may skew the grading curve in a class, resulting in lower grades for students who work hard and do their own work.

Most professions have codes of ethics, standards to which you will be expected to adhere when you are working, and public health is no different with Principles of Ethical Practice of Public Health being articulated by the American Public Health Association (APHA). At the UW’s School of Public Health, we expect you to practice the integrity you must demonstrate in your career. For all of these reasons, academic misconduct is considered a serious offense at the UW.

If you suspect someone of cheating or engaging in academic misconduct please report it to your instructor.


The UW School of Public Health (SPH) is committed to upholding standards of academic integrity consistent with the academic and professional communities of which it is a part. Plagiarism, cheating, and other misconduct are serious violations of the University of Washington Student Conduct Code (WAC 478‐120). We expect you to know and follow the university’s policies on cheating and plagiarism. Any suspected cases of academic misconduct will be handled according to University of Washington regulations. For more information, see the University of Washington Community Standards and Student Conduct website.

Suspected cases of misconduct will be handled by the SPH Dean’s Representatives for Academic Conduct: the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, the Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education and the Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies, with support from the Director of Student Affairs. To refer a case of suspected academic misconduct to the Dean’s Office, contact:

A student falls within the jurisdiction of the SPH policy if the student is:

  1. enrolled in a major within the School (note that this is true regardless of the college in which the course is taught), or
  2. enrolled in a graduate program offered by the School.

If the student is a major or pre-major in any other college, the SPH will refer the case and supporting documentation to the college or school in which the student is enrolled.

What is Academic Misconduct?

Academic misconduct occurs when a student falls short of meeting the standards of academic and professional honesty and integrity . Academic misconduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • Plagiarism: using anotherʹs ideas, images, or words or ideas without proper citation.
  • Multiple submissions of a paper: submitting all or substantial parts of a paper or assignment for more than one class without the express permission of your professor.
  • Cheating on Exams: copying from someone else’s paper, using notes or materials not allowed by the instructor, getting an advance copy of the examination, or arranging for a surrogate test‐taker.
  • Inappropriate collaboration.
  • False representation of data or experiences.
  • Abuse of confidentiality: in the context of client or patient records.
  • Misrepresentation of credentials, e.g., affiliations, degrees, or licensure.

Academic integrity requires that the course work (drafts, reports, examinations, papers, etc. ) you present to an instructor conveys your individual academic efforts honestly and accurately.


One of the most common forms of academic misconduct is plagiarism. Plagiarism is when you use another’s work without proper citation. The key to avoiding plagiarism is to show clearly where your own thinking ends and someone else’s begins. This thinking might be as limited in scope as a picture or photo, a few words, a theory, or an argument and might have been expressed in a speech, a presentation, a blog post, or an article as well as in a paper or report. Plagiarism includes but is not limited to::

  • Using another writer’s words without proper citation. If you use another writer’s words, you must place quotation marks around the quoted material and indicate the source of the quotation.
  • Using another’s ideas without proper citation.When you use another author’s ideas, you must indicate the source of the information. Your instructors want to know which ideas and judgments are yours and which you arrived at by consulting other sources. Even if you arrived at the same judgment on your own, you need to acknowledge that the originator came up with the idea prior to your own conclusion.
  • Borrowing all or part of another student’s paper or using someone else’s outline to write your own paper.Using someone’s paper or outline is academic misconduct. Allowing someone to use your paper or outline is also academic misconduct.
  • In computer programming classes, borrowing computer code from another student and presenting it as your own. When original computer code is a requirement for a class, it is a violation of the University’s policy if students submit work they themselves did not create.
  • Using the Internet to obtain information to assist you with your writing without proper citation.The guidelines that define plagiarism also apply to information secured on Internet Websites. Internet references must specify precisely where the information was obtained and where it can be found. Internet Websites do not constitute common knowledge and therefore must be cited.

Multiple submissions

If you want to submit a single paper or completed assignment in more than one class, even though it’s your original work, you must have the express permission of your professor(s) otherwise it may constitute academic misconduct.


Copying from someone else’s paper, using notes (unless expressly allowed by the instructor), altering an exam for re-grading, getting an advance copy of the examination, or hiring a surrogate test-taker are all forms of academic misconduct.

Technology is an important resource available to students today, but can also create additional barriers to learning if not used appropriately. If it is unclear how electronic devices can or cannot be used, ask your instructor. While it may be acceptable to write your paper on a laptop or use a calculator to complete math homework, it is not acceptable to access answers to questions on your smart phone during an exam, or to text a classmate the answers to a multiple choice question during a quiz.

Inappropriate collaboration

Educators recognize the value of collaborative learning; students are often assigned group projects or encouraged to form study groups. Group study often results in accelerated learning, but only when each student takes responsibility for mastering all the material.

If you are permitted or required to work with other students to study or to complete research or projects that require you to submit an individual work product that assesses your learning, be sure you understand what collaboration is allowable and how it should be documented. If your work product is an individual assessment of your learning within a collaborative assignment, be mindful of reporting how much collaboration goes into writing the outline, finding sources, etc., so that the instructor may assess your individual effort in the project.

False representation of data or experiences

The fabrication of data or experiences constitutes a serious violation of academic conduct. When you are writing about personal experience, service, or research, the materials presented must be reflect accurately your experience, outcome and findings.


Detecting academic misconduct can be challenging. One way in which the UW is working to support instructors and students in monitoring written work for possible lapses in proper citation is through access to Turnitin, a web-based system linked to Canvas that can be put in place to scan students’ work and look for similarities with material written by other authors. When run through this system, each paper gets a similarity score. Instructors and students can click on the paper to determine what components of each paper are similar to components in other works.

Students who are uncertain about which citation model should be used and what constitutes appropriate citation should talk with their instructors or contact the UW Writing Center.

Process for Investigating and Addressing Academic Misconduct

For instructors

1. Contact the student to explain the allegation.

  • A typical first step is to communicate with the student by email or in person to explain why you suspect that the student may have engaged in academic misconduct.
  • You may refer the case directly to the School of Public Health’s Dean’s Office before contacting the student or to seek advice before contacting the student. If in doubt of next steps, start by contacting the Dean’s Office.
  • If you communicate with the student via email, save all of the email communications to include as documentation if you decide to refer the case to the Dean’s Office for an Academic Conduct Review.

2. Refer the case to the Dean’s Office.

  • Explain to the student that you are referring the case to the Dean’s Office for possible disciplinary action, and, send a Report of Academic Misconduct to the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, who will involve the Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education or the Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies as appropriate.
  • Do not assign a grade for the assignment or the course if near completion (assign an “X” grade) until after you have been notified by the Dean’s Office that the conduct process is complete and that you may assign a grade.
  • If the student is found responsible for academic misconduct, you will then calculate and submit the final grade according to the expectations and grading method stated in the course syllabus.
  • In all cases, if the Dean’s Office exonerates the student, the course instructor will grade the work accordingly.

For Students

  • If you are accused of academic misconduct, you may be contacted by your instructor, TA, and/or a Dean’s Office representative to discuss the allegation. If you would prefer not to discuss the allegation with your instructor, you may request to proceed directly to an Informal Hearing, with a small group of Dean’s Office representatives. Similarly, your instructor may choose to immediately refer the matter to the Dean’s Office rather than meeting with you first.
  • If your instructor refers the matter to the Dean’s Office, you will be contacted to schedule an Informal Hearing, at which time you will be asked to share your view of what happened.
  • You will have the right to appeal any sanctions imposed.
  • You will not receive a grade on the assignment in question or for the course until the conduct hearing process is complete. If you are found responsible for academic misconduct, the grading of the assignment involving academic misconduct will be determined by the course instructor and may include a zero on the assignment, which may result in a failing final course grade.
  • If you are exonerated, you will receive the grade you would have received had the misconduct charge not been reported.

If a student is found responsible for academic misconduct, the consequences follow two main paths:

  • Disciplinary Sanctions: After a student has had access to due process via Informal Hearings, if you are found responsible for academic misconduct, disciplinary sanctions are imposed. Possible disciplinary sanctions are specified in the Student Conduct Code, including a warning, disciplinary probation, or a recommendation for suspension or dismissal from the University.
  • Grading: If the student is found responsible for academic misconduct, the instructor will then calculate the grade for any assignments involving academic misconduct. Instructors typically assign a zero/no credit for assignments involving academic misconduct, which may result in a failing final course grade for the students.

Informal Hearing Process

1. The Dean’s Office notifies the student of the Informal Hearing.

After reviewing the Report of Academic Misconduct from the instructor, the Dean’s Office will email and mail the student accused of academic misconduct a letter notifying the student of the schedule for an Informal Hearing, and containing information about the Student Conduct Code. If a student fails to respond to scheduled Informal Hearing or fails to attend a scheduled hearing, the hearing will proceed in his or her absence and a hold may be placed on the student’s record.

2. The Dean’s Office consults with the UW Office of Community Standards and Student Conduct.

The Dean’s Office will contact the UW Office of Community Standards and Student Conduct to determine if the student has previously been found responsible for misconduct. If the student has a misconduct record, this will be taken into account when reviewing the case.

3. The Dean’s Office holds the Informal Hearing with the student.

At the Informal Hearing, the student will meet with the Director of Student Affairs and either the Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education, the Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies, or the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. The Informal Hearing allows the Dean’s Office to share with the student information received regarding the alleged academic misconduct and provides an opportunity for the student to share her/his perspective on and information regarding the allegation.  During the Informal Hearing, the student is provided with the following information:

    • The alleged misconduct and the reasons for the university’s believe that the student engaged in the misconduct;
    • the specific section(s) of the Student Conduct Code allegedly violated; and
    • the possible sanctions that may be imposed.

4. The Dean’s Office makes recommendation– Informal Hearing outcomes.

Based on the Informal Hearing and within 10 days of its conclusion, the relevant Assistant Dean will issue the student a letter and take one of these actions:

    • Exonerate or dismiss the action if no alleged misconduct is determined to have taken place.
    • Impose a disciplinary sanction. Possible disciplinary sanctions are specified in the Student Conduct Code, including a warning, disciplinary probation or a recommendation for suspension or dismissal from the University.

In either case, the Dean’s Office will communicate the conclusions and relevant recommendations to the instructor.

5. The Dean’s Office records the incident or expunges the files.

If the student is exonerated, all files related to the case will be expunged.

If the student is found responsible, the Office of Student Affairs will maintain files on all academic misconduct Informal Hearings, including the Report of Academic Misconduct submitted by the instructor and all associated materials, the letter notifying the student of the Informal Hearing, and the letter to the student stating the outcomes of the hearing and associated Outcome Report. These records will be kept on file for 7 years after disciplinary action has been taken and/or after the administrative purpose has been served. The Office of Student Affairs will send copies of the following to the Director of the UW Community Standards and Student Conduct: the letter notifying the student of the Informal Hearing, the letter to the student stating the outcomes of the Informal Hearing, and Outcome Report.

The School of Public Health acknowledges the work of colleagues at the College of the Environment in framing a document that provided the starting point for SPH work in articulating policies and procedures related to academic integrity and misconduct. We appreciate the willingness of the College of the Environment to share their materials freely.

revised: 2016.04.14

PDF Files

Academic Integrity (Policy and Resources) (20160414)

Academic Misconduct Form (20160414)

Student Academic Misconduct Process Flowchart (20141010)