Computer Science Undergraduate Handbook (2021-2022) - Academic Misconduct
University of Utah, School of Computing

Academic Misconduct Policy

Any student who receives two failing grade sanctions in School of Computing (SoC) courses due to Academic Misconduct will be subsequently barred from registering for any additional School of Computing courses and will immediately be dropped from their respective degree program.

Rights And Responsibilities

As defined in the University Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities, Academic Misconduct includes, but is not limited to, cheating, misrepresenting one's work, inappropriately collaborating, plagiarism, and fabrication or falsification of information. It also includes facilitating Academic Misconduct by intentionally helping or attempting to help another student to commit an act of Academic Misconduct. A primary example of Academic Misconduct is submitting as one's own, work that is copied from an outside source.

Important Notes and Links:

  1. School of Computing Policy on Academic Misconduct
  2. Policy Acknowledgment Form. Note: students who have applied for Major or Minor Status in the SoC will have already electronically agreed to this form and will not need to hand in a paper version.
  3. A failing grade sanction applies even for students who attempt to withdraw from the course before the sanction is imposed. The "W" grade will be subsequently replaced with an "E".
  4. Even if both failing sanctions occur in the same semester, the misconduct rule comes into effect and a student will be removed from the program.
  5. Any failing grade sanction due to Academic Misconduct can be appealed (see below). If the appeal is successful then the sanction is lifted.

Why The SoC Takes Academic Misconduct So Seriously

The School of Computing is dedicated to the highest levels of honor and achievement. Our graduates go on to positions where their decisions and abilities will affect all of society. Integrity, skill, knowledge, and professionalism are hallmarks of our graduates. This is a reputation that the School vigorously maintains and defends.

Students who cheat (or otherwise break these expectations) not only hurt themselves and their ability to pass the subsequent courses, but also harm their current and future peers by lowering the perceived quality of the degree.

How Can I Prevent Being Falsely Identified As Having Cheated?

It is up to the student to make sure they understand the policies of each individual course when it comes to what is and is not misconduct. Such information should be found in the course syllabus, but students are encouraged to speak directly with the instructor if any question remains. When in doubt, err on the side of asking permission!

The School of Computing uses rigorous plagiarism detection systems. These systems are designed knowing that solutions to standard problems will be similar, and are very accurate when distinguishing between "happenstance" and "collusion". Students who create their solutions through standard methods (i.e., hard work, practice, and learning) will almost never be accused of plagiarism.

For those students who wish an extra level of evidence to support themselves, the following suggestions should be followed:

  1. Do not visit "random" websites in search for answers. When in doubt, ask the course instructor about what sites are allowed.
  2. Regardless of the above, document the source of any outside help. For example, add a list of visited websites to the comments of your solution, and list any students you worked with, consulted, or brainstormed with about the solution. By citing your references you are acknowledging what you have done and what you have used from others.
  3. Use a versioning system (e.g., GIT) and commit your code at regular intervals (e.g., every hour). This will create a "road map" of how your solution was created.
  4. Never "seek guidance" from an old solution to a problem (or related problem) even if that solution was your own past attempt. Remember, your instructor is less concerned with the "deliverable" than with your learning of how to create it via your own skill and knowledge.
  5. Do not place your code on a publicly available website. For example, if you use a GitHub repository, make sure that the repo is private.
  6. Make sure your laptop is password protected and do not leave your work "available" (e.g., go to the bathroom without locking your computer) for others to see.

What To Do If You Wish To Appeal An Academic Misconduct Sanction.

Students believing an academic action taken in an SoC course to be arbitrary or capricious should first contact the instructor and attempt to resolve the issue. If the issue is not resolved expediently and directly by the instructor, or extenuating circumstances preclude contacting the instructor, students should contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies for advice and instructions on further appeals.

Appeals are grouped into two categories:

  1. Appeal of a failing (or other) grade sanction:

    Students who are failed in a course (or had a grade lowered) based on academic misconduct can appeal this action through the College of Engineering Academic Appeals Committee. As previously stated, the Director of Undergraduate Studies can offer advice and/or counseling for the student.

    An email should be sent to the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for the College of Engineering containing pertinent information (see below).

  2. Appeal other actions by a faculty member:

    Students who believe a course instructor has arbitrarily or capriciously taken an action that has adversely affected the student can ask the Director of the School of Computing ( to intercede. The email should contain all pertinent information (see below).

Again, students who are in need of advice on their situation can seek guidance from the SoC Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUGS) who will act as an impartial advisor.

In either case, the student should prepare a written statement summarizing the situation. The letter should include:

  • Your name
  • Your Uid
  • The name and number of the course
  • The name of the professor in charge of the course
  • An explanation of what you did
  • A description of why the professor felt this was a violation of the Academic Misconduct policy
  • A rebuttal explaining why you believe it was not
  • Finally, include any corroborating evidence

Please send the email from your University email account.

For a flow chart of times and steps in the appeals process, please refer to Figure 1 in the School of Computing Policy on Academic Misconduct.

What Happens If You Are Sanctioned

As stated above, the School of Computing vigorously works against cheating and other forms of Academic Misconduct. That being said, we all make mistakes at times, and while a first sanction is a large one, it can be overcome by consistent high-level, honest achievement over the semesters to come.

First, you can retake the course for which you were sanctioned and the new grade will replace the failing grade. Additionally, you can take new courses and succeed in these without being pre-judged.

Of course, a second sanction (even in the same semester) will result in a completely different outcome. Such students will be removed from their SoC Degree programs and disallowed from ever taking School of Computing courses again.

Who Will Know About Your Academic Misconduct Sanction

The School of Computing keeps all sanctions private. Within the SoC, only the undergraduate advisors, the instructor of the course, the Director(s) of Undergraduate Studies, and the Director(s) of the School of Computing will have access to this information. Outside of the SoC, only those directly involved with the appeals process will know.

When you take new courses with new instructors, you will be given a "clean sheet", and of course expected to never again fall prey to temptation.