Online Academic Integrity

The Office of Academic Affairs, in consultation with CAS Dean’s Office and Academic Extension, has developed the following list of resources to combat academic misconduct and ensure the academic integrity of online courses.

Honor Declaration

Consider requiring all students, ideally at the moment they submit exams or other work, to affirm that they are who they say they are and are submitting their own work. Remind them that the penalties for academic dishonesty may include failure in the course or potentially even expulsion from the university. Alternatively, or in addition, it can help to review and reaffirm academic honesty principles long before exams and assignments are due; this sets a high-minded tone, puts students on notice about expectations, and signals that the instructor is vigilant, which may itself deter cheating. These tactics obviously have limited effectiveness against students who are already inclined to cheat, but may make them think twice and lay the basis for later disciplinary action.  

 See the Office of the Dean of Students' website  for more information on Academic Misconduct policies at UO and for suggested syllabi language, and below for sample honor code statements from other institutions. 

Instructional Design

Applying high quality instructional design to online course development, particularly through interactive assignments, activities, and assessments, can reduce both the incentive and means for academic dishonesty. Using low-stakes quizzes, creating more project-based assignments, assessing participation and interaction (via discussion forums, social media, blogs, etc.) and requiring peer-to-peer activity are all strategies that can make it harder for a proxy to step in and do the work. Reviewing early assignments and actively engaging in course discussions, blogs, projects, etc. can help faculty develop an ongoing awareness of students’ voices and identify potential impostors.  

Variable Testing

It is always good practice to change test questions and some assignments after each iteration of a course.  Exams delivered online, whether via the learning management system (LMS) or through another method, could regularly include new questions, or a mix of objective or subjective questions. Or they might draw a set of questions from a larger question pool for each student, ensuring a level of randomization that is less easily exploited. The general suggestion is to design assignments and assessments that are hard to cheat on to begin with. 

Challenge Questions

On an exam or assessment, consider asking a surprise question only the student knows the answer to -- and that you can easily verify. Asking students for their UO ID numbers is one possibility; even asking them to indicate their favorite course reading verbatim from the syllabus can help identify anyone who hasn't actually taken the whole course. This tactic works only to defeat test-taking surrogates who log in directly on behalf of their student clients with limited information about them, not those who provide answers directly to their clients for them to submit themselves. 

Instructors can also use Canvas’s built-in media recorder to serve as a form of ID verification. The challenge prompt might be “turn on your media recorder and using your webcam and microphone, 1) show me your photo ID; 2) show me your desktop and room to demonstrate that you don’t have any notes or books open, and that no one is in the room to assist you." When using these approaches, it’s best not to alert students in advance. 

Proctored Exams

The Social Science Instructional Laboratory (SSIL) , run by CASIT, administers proctored examinations to students living near campus and in most cases can also arrange remote proctoring for students living elsewhere. In addition, CASIT will be piloting the use of palm scanners for identity verification for students taking exams in SSIL. Proctoring by SSIL is available to courses offered by CAS departments. The service can also be accessed, subject to availability and on a fee basis, for non-CAS courses.

Plagiarism Detection Software

VeriCite Plagiarism Detection software, a service that scans submitted papers against a large database in order to detect plagiarized passages, is available through Canvas. Information on how to use VeriCite can be on CMET's Canvas support site  (scroll down to "VeriCite Resources").


Stanford University  

Stanford has developed a policy for their online courses in accordance with Stanford’s Honor Code and Fundamental Standard . This policy states that: 

“By registering in an online course, you agree to: rely solely on your own work in connection with all assessments, problems, homework and assignments (unless collaboration is expressly permitted); acknowledge any and all external sources used in your work; refrain from any activity that would dishonestly or fraudulently improve your results or disadvantage others in the course; maintain only one user account and not let anyone else use your username and/or password; and not access or attempt to access any other user's account, or misrepresent or attempt to misrepresent your identity while using the Sites. This Honor Code is not intended to prohibit discussion of course material. While users must submit work that is their own, you should feel free to discuss lectures or other course material with others either in-person or online. Stanford employees using this Site are expected to abide by the University Code of Conduct, Administrative Guide Memo 1.” 


Coursera has created a code that every student taking one of their courses must agree to follow: 

“All students participating in the class must agree to abide by the following code of conduct: 

1.     I will register for only one account. 

2.     My answers to homework, quizzes, exams, projects, and other assignments will be my own work (except for assignments that explicitly permit collaboration). 

3.     I will not make solutions to homework, quizzes, exams, projects, and other assignments available to anyone else (except to the extent an assignment explicitly permits sharing solutions). This includes both solutions written by me, as well as any solutions provided by the course staff or others. 

4.     I will not engage in any other activities that will dishonestly improve my results or dishonestly improve or hurt the results of others.” 

 Enrollees in UO’s Coursera Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), which are being offered by the American English Institute (AEI) in conjunction with the U.S. Department of State, are required to agree to and abide by the code above. 

University of North Carolina 

University of North Carolina has expanded their long-standing campus honor code to include students taking online courses: 

 “As a Carolina Courses Online student, you are responsible for obeying and supporting an honor system that prohibits lying, cheating, or stealing in relation to the academic practices of constituent institutions of The University of North Carolina. The honor system also requires you to refrain from conduct that significantly impairs the welfare or the educational opportunities of others in the University community. You are expected to do your own work in all aspects of your course.” 

A specific note about plagiarism and official links on the topic follow this statement—a preventative step taken to better support the online student. While this is an abbreviated version of the longer institutional Honor Code to which online students are similarly required to adhere, it includes much of the university’s traditional language, including a historic commitment “not to lie, cheat, or steal.”