601.2 Academic Misconduct

Section 600: Academic Affairs/Student Affairs

Effective: February 12, 2001
Revised: April 2021; March 2023
Reviewed: March 2023
Review Date: March 2024
Responsible Parties: Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs/Provost and Dean of Students

The faculty, administration and students of Montana State University-Northern believe that academic honesty and integrity are fundamental to the mission of higher education. The University has a responsibility to promote academic honesty and integrity and to assure the highest ethical and professional standards and behavior in the classroom. Accordingly, the University has developed procedures that address instances of academic dishonesty. Students who violate these standards commit academic misconduct and will be subject to academic and/or disciplinary sanctions.

Academic misconduct includes cheating; plagiarism; forgery; falsification; facilitation or aiding academic dishonesty; multiple submissions; theft of instructional materials or tests; unauthorized access to, manipulation of or tampering with laboratory equipment, experiments or computer programs without proper authorization; alteration of grades or files; misuse of research data in reporting results; use of personal relationships to gain grades or favors; or otherwise attempting to obtain grades or credit through fraudulent means.


A description of some forms of academic dishonesty and some examples are provided to help students understand their responsibilities regarding academic honesty: 

  1. Cheating: giving, using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, notes, study aids or other devices in any academic exercise including unauthorized communication of information. Examples of cheating include copying from another student's paper or receiving unauthorized assistance during a quiz, test or examination; unauthorized use of books, notes or other devices such as calculators, during a quiz or test; acquiring without authorization copies of tests or examinations before the scheduled exercise; copying reports, laboratory work or computer programs or files from other students.
  2. Plagiarism: presenting the work of another as one's own without proper acknowledgment. Examples of plagiarism include submitting as one's own work the work of another student, a ghost writer, or a commercial writing service; directly quoting from a source without acknowledgment; paraphrasing or summarizing another's work without acknowledging the source; using facts, figures, graphs, charts or information without acknowledging the source. Plagiarism may occur orally or in writing and may involve computer programs and files, research designs, distinctive figures of speech, ideas and images or any other information that belongs to another person and is not acknowledged as such. Inadvertent or unintentional misuse or appropriation of another work (such as relying heavily on source material that is not expressly acknowledged) is still considered plagiarism.
  3. Falsification: the invention or unauthorized alternation of any information or citation in an academic exercise. Examples of falsification include inventing or counterfeiting data or research procedures to give the appearance of results being achieved from procedures that were not undertaken; the false citing of a source of information; altering the record of, or reporting false information about, practicum or clinical experiences; altering grade reports or other academic records; submitting a false excuse for absence or tardiness; altering a returned examination paper and seeking a better grade.
  4. Facilitating Academic Dishonesty: giving assistance or attempting to assist another in the commitment of academic misconduct.
  5. Multiple Submissions: submitting the same paper or oral report for credit in two courses without the instructor's permission; making minor revisions in a paper or report for which credit has already been received and submitting it again as a new piece of work.
  6. Tampering: interfering with, altering, or attempting to alter University records, grades, assignments, laboratory experiments or other documents without authorization. Examples of tampering include using a computer or false-written document to change or affect the grade recorded for a student; forging the signature of a University official on a drop/add sheet or other official University record; erasing records or information of a student; unauthorized access to a University record by computer; unauthorized entry into an office or file; obtaining information from the University without proper authorization.
  7. Other Academic Misconduct: other examples of academic misconduct include allowing another student to copy from one's paper during an examination or test; distributing test questions or substantive information about the material to be covered on a test before the scheduled exercise; collaborating on work with the knowledge that the collaboration is not authorized or will not be reported. Taking an examination or test for another student or signing a false name on an academic exercise.
  8. Unauthorized Sharing of Course Materials: Course materials are the property of MSU-N. Any unauthorized sharing or distribution of course materials without the explicit consent of faculty is prohibited. This is inclusive of any course content (including but not limited to assignments, exams, quizzes, and lab worksheet information).


If an instructor has reason to believe that a student has engaged in academic misconduct, the following procedures apply:

  1. Informal Meeting
    The instructor must attempt to personally and privately meet with the accused student and explain that there is reason to believe that the student has allegedly committed an act that constitutes academic misconduct. During this informal meeting, the accused student is allowed a reasonable opportunity to respond or explain the circumstances that lead to the accusation. If the student does not respond to a request for a meeting after 5 days, the instructor may continue to step 2 without a discussion taking place.
  2. Academic Misconduct Reporting Form
    If, after hearing the student's response (if any is provided), the instructor continues to believe the student engaged in academic misconduct, the instructor will submit the Academic Misconduct Reporting Form to the Dean of Students Office and provide a copy to the appropriate Academic Dean. The Academic Misconduct Notification Form shall be kept for seven years from the date of receipt. 

    The Dean of Students Office will determine if the student(s) involved has(ve) prior history of academic misconduct and relay that information to the instructor and the Academic Dean. In the event a prior history of academic misconduct does exist, the instructor will coordinate with the Academic Dean and the Dean of Students Offices for resolving the presented concern. Student Code of Conduct guidelines (further explained under “Student Code of Conduct Referral) might be implemented.

    If there is no prior history of academic misconduct, the Dean of Students will notify the Instructor who will proceed with the Instructor imposed academic sanctions.
  3. Instructor-Imposed Academic Sanctions:
    The instructor will make a determination of responsibility and assign sanctions, as appropriate. An instructor is limited to imposing sanctions within the scope of academic activity. The following sanctions may be imposed by instructors when a finding is made that academic misconduct has occurred.
    1. Oral reprimand
    2. Written reprimand.
    3. An assignment to repeat the work, or an alternate assignment.
    4. A lower or failing grade on the particular assignment or test
    5. A lower or failing grade for the course

Please see specific program handbooks for imposed sanctions as there are stricter sanctions specific to certain educational programs, such as nursing and education.

  1. Appeal of Instructor-Imposed Academic Sanctions:

    The student may present a formal appeal in writing to the instructor's Academic Dean (or designee) no later than five (5) business days after receiving the Instructor’s determination of Academic Misconduct. The student must provide evidence that the instructor’s determination of academic misconduct was incorrect, and the precise relief sought by the student. The student may attach copies of any relevant documents or evidence. The Dean shall send a copy of the appeal to the instructor. 

    The instructor shall have five (5) business days to respond in writing to the Dean after receipt of the appeal. The instructor shall present their evidence that the charged student committed academic misconduct. 

    The Dean will receive and review all evidence provided by the student and instructor, and, at the Dean’s discretion, may interview either or both parties. The Dean shall render a written decision within five (5) business days of receipt of the instructor's response. 

    The Dean’s decision may uphold, amend, or overturn the instructor-imposed sanction.   However, the Dean may not impose a higher sanction than the sanction originally imposed by the instructor, unless new information is found through the appeal process.  If a higher sanction is appropriate, the designated Dean shall refer the matter to the Provost. 

    The Dean shall send a copy of his/her decision to the student, the instructor, and the Provost.  All the associated materials concerning an academic misconduct incident will be stored with the academic Dean for seven years.

    The Dean’s decision may be appealed, to the Provost, by either the student or the instructor, if new evidence comes to light or if the institutional process has not been followed.  The Provost’s decision shall be the final decision of the University. . 

    If a Dean is the instructor who has reason to believe that a student has engaged in academic misconduct, the Provost will appoint an academic administrator that will complete the appeal procedures described in this subsection. 

  2. Student Code of Conduct Referral

    In addition to instructor-imposed academic sanctions, an academic misconduct concern may be referred to the Dean of Students Office for further review and potential action. This process takes place when:

    1. the Dean of Students Office review of the Academic Misconduct Reporting Form submission identifies prior history of academic misconduct for the student(s) involved; or
    2. at the request of the instructor or Academic Dean, due to the severity of the concern or other aggravating circumstances.

In either case, the Dean of Students Office will contact the instructor to discuss the concern and identify further process for resolving the concern collaboratively with the instructor, the Academic Dean, and the Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs/Provost, as appropriate. Resolution may include filing formal charges against the student for a violation of the Student Code of Conduct. In the event it is determined that formal charges of a violation of the Student Code of Conduct need be filed against the student, the Dean of Students Office will assume responsibility for adjudication and further action as outlined in the Student Code of Conduct, to include any subsequent appeals processes.

These additional disciplinary sanctions may include, but are not limited to:

    1. Removal of the student from a major program or college.
    2. Withdrawal of a degree or academic credit previously bestowed.
    3. Any sanction that may be imposed for violation of the Student Conduct Code, including disciplinary probation, suspension or expulsion from the University.