How an academic misconduct investigation works
The materials on this page are intended to provide disciplinary authorities with guidance about how to investigate an allegation of academic misconduct.
On this page:
Process Letter templates Educational outcomes Disciplinary outcomes
Note: The materials on this page are intended to provide disciplinary authorities with guidance about how to investigate an allegation of academic misconduct. The information contained herein is not intended to replace relevant University of Manitoba governing documents. Please consult the Student Discipline bylaw and related procedures.
1. Review the allegation
- Begin documentation process: Ask the questions who, what, when, where and why?
- Review relevant policies.
- Determine jurisdiction. Consider the following:
- Authority to review - Ensure that the matter is one that falls under your jurisdiction. For example, second allegations and misconduct related to final exams and personation automatically fall under the jurisdiction of the Dean’s Office.
- Concurrent jurisdiction - If the student is not part of the faculty in which the course is offered, be sure to inform the student’s home faculty of the allegation. Refer to appropriate authority, if matter falls outside your jurisdiction. If you are unsure of the jurisdiction, contact Student Advocacy or the dean’s office.
- Issues of bias - If the professor who brought forward the allegation is the same as the normal decision-maker, ensure an alternative decision-maker is assigned to the case.
- Collect facts - Review the evidence that was forwarded by the instructor and ensure there is enough evidence to move forward with an allegation letter. If witnesses need to be interviewed, or other data collected, be sure to reference the appropriate procedures.
2. Write and send an allegation letter
- Review student discipline bylaw.
- Write a letter to the student and include all of the following information:
- Details of the investigation. Student should be informed about the specific form of academic misconduct they are alleged to have breached. All evidence should be provided to the student within the letter so they are able to understand the allegation and prepare for the discipline meeting.
- Provide a deadline by which the student must contact the decision-maker to either set up a meeting OR advise once they have scheduled a meeting with Student Advocacy.
- Inform the student of their right to advocacy and show them how to get in touch with Student Advocacy. The Student Advocacy confidential intake assistant can be reached at 204-474-7423 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Explain that a hold has been placed on the student’s account and inform them why.
- The letter should be clear that if there is no response to the letter by the deadline then a decision will still be made.
- Send the letter to the student and take all of the following into consideration:
- Timing. The letter should be sent to the student as soon as the decision-maker decides there is enough evidence to proceed to a full investigation. Do not send the letter on a Friday. The student should be able to access university supports as soon as they receive the letter.
- Mode of delivery. The letter should be sent to the student’s UM email address and their home address listed in Aurora.
- The following people and units should be copied on the letter:
- The dean’s office of the student’s home faculty.
- The instructor who initiated the investigation.
- The student’s department head.
- Student Advocacy.
3. Meeting with the student
Sample meeting itinerary
- Introduce everyone at the meeting.
- Confirm the student’s home address.
- Confirm the advocate may be copied on all future communication.
- Confirm decision not yet made and that this is an investigation.
- Emphasize that decision will be made on the balance of probabilities.
- Overview of allegation: The decision maker should outline the information they were provided by the instructor and speak broadly about the nature of the evidence and allegation.
- Student response:
- Give student the chance to make a formal statement.
- The faculty should request a copy of the statement from the student so they have a complete record on file.
- The student may present evidence to the decision-maker during this period and explain the relevance of the evidence.
- If possible, the decision-maker should make copies of the evidence for the file.
- Question period. After the student provides their statement, questions may be raised by the decision maker and the instructor (if present). The student may also ask questions of the instructor and/or decision maker regarding the evidence.
- Final question and answer period. If there are any new questions arising for or from the student they can be addressed at this point.
- Closing remarks. The student may make a closing statement at this point re-iterating or clarifying any points. The decision-maker should make their own closing remarks thanking everyone for attending and giving the student a timeline for a decision.
Additional fact-finding consultation: If the decision maker has additional issues they need to examine following the meeting, the student should be informed of the ongoing process. If an allegation is to be upheld and the student is not in the same faculty as the course offering, then the home faculty needs to be consulted about the disciplinary action.
4. Make the decision
- Determine if there is enough evidence by weighing the following:
- Is it more probable than not that the alleged act was committed based on the facts and evidence (balance of probabilities)?
- Weigh aggravating/mitigating factors.
- The burden is on the instructor to show, on a balance of probabilities, that the misconduct took place. The student is not required to disprove the allegation. If this burden is met and the student’s evidence fails to satisfy the decision-makers, then the allegation should be upheld.
If the allegation is upheld, it is the responsibility of the decision maker to devise a disciplinary action.
5. Write and send the decision letter
- Write a decision letter to the student with the following information:
- Re-state the allegation.
- Summarize the information that was received. The decision maker should outline all the evidence they received from the instructor, from the student, and potentially from the witnesses.
- Explain the weight given to information for purpose of making the decision. If there is evidence the decision-maker found untrustworthy, this should be stated clearly in the letter. It is important for the student to understand exactly how the decision-maker arrived at their decision.
- Reference the relevant policies.
- Set out the reasons for the penalty, including aggravating and mitigating factors.
- Provide information about the right to appeal, and where to receive further information and support.
- If you have reason to believe that the misconduct was due to a lack of understanding, poor writing, poor research practices, or you feel the student would otherwise benefit from post-discipline education consult with the academic integrity coordinator.
- The following people and units should be copied on the letter:
- the dean’s office of the student’s home faculty.
- the instructor who initiated the investigation.
- the student’s department head.
- Student Advocacy.
- It is recommended that you consult with the academic integrity coordinator if you are unsure whether a student is a suitable candidate for post-discipline education.
- Ideally, the letter should not be sent to the student on a Friday. This is to allow the student the opportunity to immediately access university supports.
6. Record retention
- Review the Records Management Policy.
- Consult the Access and Privacy Office if necessary.
Printable PDF guide for administrators
- Sample letter 1 no disciplinary action (PDF)
- Sample letter 2 disciplinary action (PDF)
- Sample letter 3 disciplinary action no penalty (PDF)
- Template informing allegations (PDF)
- Template informing decision disciplinary action no penalty (PDF)
- Template informing decision no disciplinary action (PDF)
- Template multi faculties decision letter informing student of decision of disciplinary action (PDF)
- Template reprimand discipline action (PDF)
- Letter template academic integrity post discipline (May 2022)