Academic Integrity


Accessible PDF: Academic Misconduct Guide

Brief Overview 


Contract Cheating

Contract cheating is a type of academic dishonesty where students get academic work completed on their behalf to submit for credit as if they had created it themselves. (  Learn more here.  



International Students

In order successfully adapt to the American culture and educational system, you have to keep an open mind and be willing to renegotiate some of the academic values you may bring from your home country.  In the United States, qualities such as independence, originality, critical thinking, and interpretation are extremely valued.  Here, success is measured by individual effort.  The below booklet is intended to help you understand Iowa State's expectations regarding academic integrity and provide general information about how to be successful academically.


Being Charged With Academic Misconduct

Students who have been charged with an allegation of academic misconduct may have questions regarding the student conduct process, grade determinations, and their disciplinary file.

Below is a basic outline of what you can expect if you have been accused of academic misconduct.

  1. Your instructor will likely contact you (via email or in person) to discuss concerns related to coursework completion and allow you the opportunity to accept or deny responsibility for completing your coursework dishonestly. 
  2. Following that conversation, the instructor may make a referral to the Office of Student Conduct where a staff member will review the information and determine if the allegation represents an alleged policy violation. 
  3. The Office of Student Conduct will send you a charge letter, including a deadline for scheduling with the office.  In most cases, students are not facing suspension or expulsion and will have a student conduct conference. 
  4. The student conduct conference is your opportunity to accept or deny responsibility and provide information and/or evidence that supports this.
  5. The hearing officer makes a determination of responsible or not responsible for violating university policy, using the preponderance of evidence standard.
  6. Both the student and the faculty member receive a copy of the outcome letter.

Additional process information can be found in section 6.1 of the Student Code of Conduct.

For all disciplinary cases, the burden of proof is preponderance of the evidence.

Preponderance of the evidence means "the greater weight of the evidence, not necessarily established by the greater number of witnesses testifying to a fact but by evidence that has the most convincing force; superior evidentiary weight that, though not sufficient to free the mind wholly from all reasonable doubt, is still sufficient to incline a fair and impartial mind to one side of the issue rather than the other." [Bryan A. Garner, Editor, “Black’s Law Dictionary,” Second Edition, St. Paul, MN: West Group: 2001.]

In student disciplinary matters, this concept means both accounts of an incident are perceived evenly/equitably. Both students carry the burden of persuading the fact-finder that their claim is valid. This differs from a criminal case where the burden of persuasion always rests with the prosecution.

Reports of alleged academic misconduct are submitted to the Office of Student Conduct by the course instructor. During the student conduct process, the instructor may also serve as a content expert for the hearing officer.

Grades are determined by the instructor for the course. The Office of Student Conduct does not make grading decisions or recommendations.

Grade penalties can range from a reduced grade on the coursework up to failure from the course and are determined by the instructor/course. Questions regarding grade penalties should be director to the course instructor.

    Students who believe a faculty member (in their academic capacity) has behaved unfairly or unprofessionally may have their grievance reviewed through the appeal of academic grievances procedure.  Information on this procedure can be found in the ISU Course Catalog.

      The appeals process is outlined in the Student Code of Conduct, section 8. There are specific criteria upon which an appeal may be filed. Depending on the type of hearing in your case, the appeals process will be different. Your student conduct administrator is available to answer questions regarding the appeals process.