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FAQs - Prohibited Behaviors

This page provides answers to frequently asked questions students or parents may have about the kinds of behaviors that may be prohibited. More questions? The Office of Academic Integrity is available to answer questions via email or by phone at (304) 293-8111!

Academic misconduct includes any behavior that allows you to gain an unfair advantage over another student. This includes several different types of behaviors: plagiarism, cheating, fabrication and falsification, facilitation, and other prohibited conduct. Each of these is explained in more detail in the WVU Policy on Student Academic Integrity.

You should also know that these definitions include behaviors that occur outside of a class - for example, in your application for admission. While academic misconduct in these situations can't lead to a grade change, it can have a serious impact on your status as a student at WVU.

WVU's definition of academic misconduct includes multiple types of plagiarism. For example, the following behaviors - among others - are prohibited:

  • Plagiarizing yourself - for example, by reusing work you submitted in another class (or in the same course, if you have taken it before).
  • Plagiarizing someone's words, ideas, or media.
  • Plagiarizing something that isn't published, such as a friend's paper.
  • Paraphrasing or directly quoting something without citing it.
  • Improperly paraphrasing or failing to use quotation marks.

It is also never acceptable to pay someone to complete academic work for you, or to turn in something that simply isn't yours.

You should be aware that the University puts technological safeguards in place. Faculty can and will use these safeguards - such as Turnitin - to detect plagiarism and find plagiarized sources.

WVU's definition of cheating includes the following behaviors, which may be - but are not always - prohibited:

  • Copying from or working with someone else on an exam.
  • Working with other students on an assignment.
  • Using a phone, smart watch, tablet, laptop, website, notes, or anything else the instructor hasn't explicitly and specifically permitted to complete work.
  • Using course materials like old tests, assignments, or even notes (whether online or given to you by another student) without the permission of the instructor.

You should be aware that working with others to intentionally cheat is likely to result in more severe sanctions.

It is also very important for you to realize that the amount and ways you can work with other students is likely to be different for each instructor, course, major, and college. You should always check with your instructor to make sure that what you are doing is acceptable.

WVU's definition of fraud - or in the terms of the policy, fabrication and falsification - includes, but is not limited to:

  • Helping someone else get attendance points - for example, by signing them into class, or using their iClicker.
  • Forging or altering an "educational record" - for example, a grade.
  • Impersonating another student for purposes of attending class or taking an exam.
  • Lying during the investigation or appeal process for any kind of conduct violation. 

All forms of fraud are serious violations of WVU's academic integrity standards. When compounded - for example, by lying during an investigation into reported misconduct - these actions can lead to additional charges and sanctions.

Under WVU's definition of academic misconduct, helping someone else cheat or persuading them to cheat on your behalf is also a serious violation.

Unless explicitly permitted, exams - and usually, quizzes - are expected to be individual work. Collaboration of any type with other students or individuals is prohibited.

For other forms of assessment like homework, projects, or labs, you may be allowed - or even required - to collaborate. If not explicitly stated by your instructor, it is your responsibility to find out if any final submissions are to be done as a group or individually. When in doubt, ask your instructor!

If you are allowed to use outside resources to complete an assignment, your instructor should let you know which resources are permitted and any other requirements (i.e., how to cite). If you have any doubt, you should always ask your instructor to clarify.

You should also be aware that certain resources are rarely permitted. For example, unless expressly allowed, websites like Chegg, CourseHero, etc., are considered unauthorized resources in the context of individual work. The University has mechanisms to detect students who engage with these services.

Finally, there are certain outside resources that are never permitted. For example, websites offering custom work to students provide no legitimate service and should be avoided at all costs. Submitting custom work that you did not create yourself – whether obtained from a website, a friend, or a family member and whether paid for or not – is considered “contract cheating” and is a very serious violation.

Academic integrity absolutely extends beyond homework, exams and projects that occur in class. For example, you are expected to follow WVU's academic integrity guidelines if asked to complete a research essay as a sanction for a conduct violation. Other activities that occur outside of a course - formal and informal grade appeals, submission of transcripts, and applications for admission to a program, to name a few - are also subject to the WVU Policy on Student Academic Integrity.