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Definitions & Examples of Academic Misconduct

Academic misconduct is any action or attempted action that may result in creating an unfair academic advantage for oneself or an unfair academic advantage or disadvantage for any other member or members of the academic community. This includes a wide variety of behaviors such as cheating, plagiarism, altering academic documents or transcripts, gaining access to materials before they are intended to be available, and helping a friend to gain an unfair academic advantage. Individual departments at the University of California, Berkeley, may have differing expectations for students, so students are responsible for seeking out information when unsure of what is expected. Below are some basic definitions and examples of academic misconduct.

Below are types of academic misconduct with examples of each.  Please note that this list is not exhaustive.

Cheating is defined as fraud, deceit, or dishonesty in an academic assignment, or using or attempting to use materials, or assisting others in using materials that are prohibited or inappropriate in the context of the academic assignment in question, such as:

  • Copying or attempting to copy from others during an exam or on an assignment.
  • Communicating answers with another person during an exam.
  • Preprogramming a calculator to contain answers or other unauthorized information for exams.
  • Using unauthorized materials, prepared answers, written notes, or concealed information during an exam.
  • Allowing others to do an assignment or portion of an assignment for you, including the use of a commercial term-paper service.
  • Submission of the same assignment for more than one course without prior approval of all the instructors involved.
  • Collaborating on an exam or assignment with any other person without prior approval from the instructor.
  • Taking an exam for another person or having someone take an exam for you.

Plagiarism is defined as use of intellectual material produced by another person without acknowledging its source, for example:

  • Wholesale copying of passages from works of others into your homework, essay, term paper, or dissertation without acknowledgment.
  • Use of the views, opinions, or insights of another without acknowledgment.
  • Paraphrasing of another person’s characteristic or original phraseology, metaphor, or other literary device without acknowledgment.

Course Materials

  • Removing, defacing, or deliberately keeping from other students library materials that are on reserve for specific courses. 
  • Contaminating laboratory samples or altering indicators during a practical exam, such as moving a pin in a dissection specimen for an anatomy course.
  • Selling, distributing, website posting, or publishing course lecture notes, handouts, readers, recordings, or other information provided by an instructor, or using them for any commercial purpose without the express permission of the instructor.

False Information and Representation, Fabrication or Alteration of Information

  • Furnishing false information in the context of an academic assignment.
  • Failing to identify yourself honestly in the context of an academic obligation.
  • Fabricating or altering information or data and presenting it as legitimate.
  • Providing false or misleading information to an instructor or any other University official.

Theft or Damage of Intellectual Property

  • Sabotaging or stealing another person’s assignment, book, paper, notes, experiment, project, electronic hardware or software.
  • Improper access to, or electronically interfering with, the property of another person or the University via computer or other means.
  • Obtaining a copy of an exam or assignment prior to its approved release by the instructor.

Alteration of University Documents

  • Forgery of an instructor’s signature on a letter of recommendation or any other document.
  • Submitting an altered transcript of grades to or from another institution or employer.
  • Putting your name on another person’s exam or assignment.
  • Altering a previously graded exam or assignment for purposes of a grade appeal or of gaining points in a re-grading process.

Disturbances in the Classroom
Disturbances in the classroom can also serve to create an unfair academic advantage for oneself or disadvantage for another member of the academic community.  Below are some examples of events that may violate the Code of Student Conduct:

  • Interference with the course of instruction to the detriment of other students.
  • Disruption of classes or other academic activities in an attempt to stifle academic freedom of speech.
  • Failure to comply with the instructions or directives of the course instructor.
  • Phoning in falsified bomb threats.
  • Unnecessarily activating fire alarms.