Academic Integrity

This page summarizes VIU’s Academic Integrity Policy (96.01) and Procedure (96.01.001) as well as gives faculty some guidance and best practices for navigating issues around academic integrity. 

For extra details, including the Academic Integrity Inquiry Form, please review the full formal process  in Procedure 96.01.001.  

1. You have reason to believe that academic misconduct has occurred. 

  • Contact the student (see Best Practices) and arrange to speak further – either in-person, over zoom, or through email exchange – to find out more information.

2. After receiving information from the student, you continue to believe academic misconduct has occurred. 

  • Complete the Academic Misconduct Inquiry Form (Parts A and B) at the end of Procedure 96.01.001. Sign and submit to the Associate Dean.

3. The Associate Dean will separate your submission and send Part C to the Student to complete.

  • Associate Dean reviews all completed parts of the Academic Misconduct Inquiry form (A, B,C) and decides if Academic Misconduct has occurred.   If a decision is that it has not occurred, this will be communicated to you and the student.

4. If Academic Misconduct has been determined to occur, a request to Records will be made to confirm if this is a first or repeat offence. 

  • Associate Dean completes all paperwork and submits a final decision (by letter) to student that outlines the disciplinary actions and/or corrective measures that will occur and will notify you about any disciplinary actions (e.g. F on assignment or F in course) that you need to apply.

Best Practices

It is very important that your course outline/syllabus includes a section on Academic Integrity.  Please see S&T’s draft common template, under Projects-in-Progress, for example language.   At a minimum this section should reference policy and procedure 96.01/96.01.001 and the General Regulations.  If you have assessments that do not fit with the general language on standards, it is encouraged that you add statements that cover these to your syllabus and/or to the assignments themselves. 

Policy 96.01 states:

Standards of academic integrity include, but are not limited to:

• Independently producing work submitted under one’s own name;

• Properly and appropriately referencing all work;

• identifying all collaborators in work;

• completing examinations without offering or receiving assistance, excepting those students requiring assistance due to a documented disability;

• respecting the integrity of examination materials and/or the examination process; and

• respecting the integrity of technological systems, software copyrights, and file privacy of others. (Policy 96.01)

When you suspect a student has committed Academic Misconduct (even when that suspicion is backed-up by iron-clad evidence), a conversation with the student is a critical first step.  Under the principles of Procedural Fairness, it is important that the student has an opportunity to provide an explanation for the issue.  Even with solid evidence, the intent here is that there are some scenarios where the student’s explanation could resolve the issue and you may either decide to drop the formal process all together (as no Academic Misconduct occurred) or the student’s explanation could point to the issue being ‘poor academic practice’, in which case the issue should be resolved by the marking scheme at the course level. 

When setting up a meeting with a student, there are a few best practices that are strongly encouraged.

  • Be clear in your meeting request about the reason for the meeting.  A student should know that they are coming to a meeting to discuss a suspicious aspects of their work; that you have questions on how they completed a task; or that you want to know more about how they came up with an answer.  They should not enter into a meeting blind to the purpose.
  • Inform the student in the meeting request that you will be taking notes which may be used as required by the Academic Misconduct Inquiry Form, and that they should also take notes in case they have follow-up questions.
  • Let the student know that when meeting, they are welcome to have someone else attend with them if they would like.   Their student union (independent of VIU) employs a Student Advocate who can help students navigate VIU processes and they are free to reach out to them.  Contact, and more information, can be found at
  • Note that you are also able to ask your Department Chair, or in some cases, the Associate Dean, to attend the meeting with you.  If you are going to do so, it is best that the student be made aware of who they are meeting with.
  • Acknowledge that receiving a meeting request such as this is stressful and that the purpose of the meeting is to bring clarity to the issue and that you are approaching it with an open-mind.  Remind them that counselling services are available to all VIU students and they should reach out if they need help.


For you, the goals of the meeting are to hear the student out; to ask some probing questions that can bring clarity to the matter; and to document/summarize the student’s explanation for the Academic Misconduct Inquiry Form (if you elect to continue with the formal process). 

  • You should not accuse the student of cheating/plagiarism/etc (even with iron-clad evidence; you want to avoid justifying, arguing, defending, or explaining how you are feeling about the matter).   
  • You should be prepared to share your evidence with the student and to give the student time to respond to your questions and explain the situation from their perspective.   You should take notes.
  • You do not need to get the student to confess and confessions should not be incentivized.  This means that if a student does not admit to the misconduct, the punishment you recommend on the Academic Misconduct Inquire Form should not be enhanced.  
  • Example of probing questions (complied by Ryerson Academic Integrity Office):
    • Questions of content to see if the student knows the material;
    • How did they do their work;
    • What they learned from doing their work;
    • If anyone had influenced their work or assisted them in completing their work;
    • Ask the student to explain the circumstances that have led to your suspicion;
  • Give the student time to also ask any questions that they may have. 
  • To wrap-up the meeting, thank the student for their time and acknowledge that meetings like this are stressful.  Let them know that you may follow up if you have further questions.   
  • You do not need to make your decision in the moment.  Tell the student that you will reflect on what has been shared in this meeting and either you or the Associate Dean will be in contact regarding any decision.  [You will only be in contact with them if you decide that the matter has been resolved as a misunderstanding or is poor academic practice; the Associate Dean will be in contact if you decided to complete the Academic Misconduct Inquiry Form]
  • If you decide to continue with the Academic Misconduct Inquiry Form, you should complete the Part A, section 2 (Brief account of conference(s) with the student regarding the incident) while the experience is fresh.

In the end, the ultimate decision on whether misconduct has occurred falls to the Dean’s designate (Associate Dean), and “a balance of probabilities” approach is used.   The choice on the disciplinary action is determined by whether this is a first or subsequent Record for the student, the severity of the misconduct, and also by looking at how Records have been handled across the Faculty in order to ensure a level of fairness. 


“Procedural fairness” is the principle whereby the student has the right to a fair process including:

  • to the full facts of the case;
  • the right to have matters addressed fairly and expeditiously;
  • the right to be heard;
  • to receive an impartial and unbiased decision; and
  • to be provided with a rationale for that decision.

In addition, students have a right to have a support person and/or an advocate present during all stages of proceedings. (Procedure 96.01.001)

Depending on a student’s K-12 experiences, they may be attending VIU with gaps in their understanding of Academic Integrity.  It is important that programs address this topic in first-year courses and through-out their core curriculum in a manner specific to their discipline. 

“Poor academic practice” can be described as minor errors made through carelessness or inexperience rather than through an intention to deceive. Poor academic practice may include, but is not limited to, minor technical errors in referencing or a reasonable lack of understanding of academic integrity expectations. (Procedure 96.01.001)

Poor academic practice issues should be dealt with in any marking scheme in a proportional manner and does not require any formal follow-up through 96.01.     It is also worth noting that what is reasonable in terms of a lack of understanding on the part of the student will change based on the standing of the student (first year, second year, third year, etc).