Reporting academic misconduct

How to report academic misconduct at UW-Madison including how the process works.

This may involve questions of academic integrity which include honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility. Some examples of academic misconduct include, plagiarism, cheating, copying homework, and stealing an exam or course materials.

Quick overview

A brief look at the steps involved in reporting academic misconduct, including links to specifics about each step.

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

1. Misconduct is supected, a meeting follows

Instructor suspects student of academic misconduct and requests a meeting with student.

Things to consider first

2. The instructor meets with the student

Instructor meets with student to review allegation. The accused student is given an opportunity to respond to allegation.

Preparing, and having a meeting

3. A determiniation of misconduct is made

The instructor will need to make a decision on whether misconduct occurs, then email the student the results.

Things to consider when making a decision

4. The instructor emails the student the results

After a determination of misconduct is made, the instructor emails the student using a preformatted letter, provided by the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards.

Emailing the student your findings

5. Submit a report to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards

The Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards can then help guide both the student and instructor through the misconduct process.

Submitting a report

4. A formal hearing

If requested, the accused student has ten days to request a formal hearing with a hearing panel or examiner.  If not requested, sanctions are imposed.

5. Decision is made from the hearing

The hearing body decides the case based on the information provided during the hearing. Both the instructor and accused student are informed of the decision.

When academic misconduct is first suspected

Addressing concerns immediately

Instructors can immediately address concerns (i.e. if suspect someone is looking at another student’s test).

In this example, an announcement could be made to the class about keeping their eyes on their own exams, or ask students to move seats.

Document any concerns in detail

If plagiarism is supected, make a copy of the student’s work and highlight any sections that are not original work.

Print off the original sources and highlight those passages.


Determine if there is other information that would help you determine if misconduct occurred.

This can include checking things like course log-in records or comparing the answers of all students for a specific question.

Get advice

Ask colleagues to review the questionable work, to see if they draw the same conclusion. Consult with the Office of Student Conduct & Community Standards, or your department chair with any questions.

The instructor and student meet

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

Ask the student to meet

  • If you prefer to or can only address the misconduct after the event, be prompt in asking the student to meet with you.
  • Explain that you need to talk about some concerns that you have regarding the student’s test/paper/etc.
  • Do not feel that you need to give details about your concerns when you ask the student to meet with you. Talking about specific concerns can lead a student to respond to your allegations immediately rather than in the meeting. If a student asks for details, just respond that you want to wait to discuss this until the meeting.
  • If multiple students are involved, meet with them individually.

Prepare for the meeting

  • Ask another colleague to sit in on the meeting as an observer. This is especially helpful for teaching assistants or faculty who haven’t dealt with academic misconduct before.
  • Remind yourself that if misconduct occurred, it is not about you as an instructor. It can be difficult not to take academic misconduct personally, so it is important to remember that misconduct is not a personal attack against you.
  • Prepare all of the documents that you want to show the student.

“Hear the case before you decide it.” – Judge Alfred P. Murrah. Even if the student’s work clearly shows signs of academic misconduct, it is imperative that you go into the meeting with the student with an open mind and willingness to listen.

During the meeting

  • Be cordial and professional with the student.
  • Remember to focus on the behavior and choices rather than trying to “catch” the student. Even a discussion of academic misconduct should be used as an educational opportunity.
  • If you have someone else sitting in on the meeting, explain why that person is there (i.e. He is here to observe. OR She is here as the lead instructor for the course)
  • Start by laying out your concerns and presenting any relevant evidence.
  • Ask the student to respond. Here are suggestions for how to broach this:
    • Looking at all of this, do you understand why this would look like academic misconduct to me?
    • What conclusion do you come to looking at all of this?
    • Tell me how you went about preparing for and then writing this paper. (plagiarism)
    • Tell me how you prepared for the exam. Tell me about taking the exam. (cheating on a test)
  • After you have asked all the questions you have, ask the student if there is anything more that s/he would like to say.
  • If you feel comfortable making a decision in the meeting, you can. But it is ok to tell the student that you will need to take some time to think about the matter and consult with others.
  • Give the student a general amount of time in which s/he can expect to receive a finding letter from you. It is good to do this even if you decide the student was not responsible for any misconduct.

After the meeting

The instructor needs to decide if misconduct occurred after hearing the student’s perspective.

Determine responsibility

If the student is found responsible
by the instructor

The instructor selects a sanction.

The instructor sends a written finding to student and The Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards.

If the student if found not responsible
by the instructor

The instructor determines that academic misconduct did NOT occur and notifies student that no violation was found.

Case closed.

Get advice

Ask another instructor to review the material if you are unsure if there was misconduct or consult with the Office of Student Conduct & Community Standards as needed.

Email the student your findings

Email the student a summary that outlines what misconduct you had suspected, your decision if the student was responsible or not-responsible, and why. If you find the students responsible, also include the sanctions you are giving.

Download a sample email template (docx)

  • Refer to the sanction guidelines for when you must contact the Office of Student Conduct & Community Standards about a student’s academic misconduct.

Submit a report to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards

This step includes reporting who was involved, what happened, the instructor’s decision, the violation and any sanctions/penalties that have already occurred to Student Conduct and Community Standards. The letter to the student, and any documentation collected should be included in the report.

Submit a report

After a report is filed

There are more steps in the entire academic misconduct process beyond the reporting of an alleged incident.

Explore the full academic misconduct process


Student Conduct and Community Standards Contacts

How can we help?

Email us at:



Line art image of Bascom Hall at the University of Wisconsin–Madison

Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards
724 W. Johnson Street
Madison, WI 53715

Office Hours
Monday-Friday: 8:00am - 4:30pm

After Hours Contacts

Crisis response:
Call Mental Health Services
608-265-5600 (option 9)
Dial 911 for immediate help from the
UW Police Department
UWPD Non-emergency line: 608-264-2677