Lack of proper attribution

FILE: Case #521 (2008-2009)
DATE: January 12, 2009
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. Mr. M.H.H.

Hearing Date(s): December 9, 2008

Panel Members:
Mr. Clifford Lax, Chair
Professor Ron Smyth, Faculty Panel Member
Ms. Melany Bleue, Student Panel Member

Ms. Lily Harmer, Assistant Discipline Counsel, Palaire Roland
Ms. Betty-Ann Campbell, Law Clerk, Paliare Roland
Professor Eleanor Irwin, Dean’s Designate
The Student, did not attend

Trial Division – s. B.i.1(d) of Code – plagiarism – course work in two courses – hearing not attended – reasonable notice of hearing – extent of plagiarism precluded possibility of error or lack of proper attribution – finding of guilt – three year suspension warranted due to finding of guilt on two counts of plagiarism – grade assignment of zero for two courses; three-year suspension; four-year notation on transcript or until graduation; and report to Provost

The Student was charged with two offences under s. B.i.1(d), and alternatively, s. B.i.3(b) of the Code. The charges related to allegations that the Student submitted two plagiarized essays in two courses. The Student did not attend the hearing. The Panel considered submissions with respect to the University’s request to proceed in the absence of the Student and found that the Student received notice of the hearing, either via mail, email or courier, and that it was appropriate to proceed in the absence of the Student, without further notice of the proceeding. During the hearing the Student emailed the Judicial Affairs Officer indicating he would not be attending due to lack of notice. The Panel did not become aware of the email until after it had concluded its deliberations but found that the email confirmed that the Student had received notice of the hearing. With respect to the first essay, the Panel considered the testimony of the course professor and found that the extent of the plagiarism found in the essay precluded any possibility that it was a result of error or a lack of proper attribution and that the Student had made obvious use of another student’s paper and submitted the other student’s ideas and text as though they were his own. With respect to the second essay, the Panel considered the evidence from the course professor and found that the Student quoted from texts without using quotation marks to delineate the words of the source materials. The Panel found the Student guilty on the charged under s. B.i.1(b) of the Code. The University filed a Book of Authorities regarding sanctions in similar cases of plagiarism. The Panel considered the University of Toronto v. S.B. and Re: University of Toronto v. A.K. and found that a two year suspension was the usual threshold for a first time offence but that a three year suspension was warranted due to the Student having been found guilty of a second count of plagiarism. The Panel imposed a three-year suspension; a grade of zero in the two courses; a four-year notation on the Student’s academic record and transcript (or until graduation, whichever was to occur first); and that a report be issued to the Provost.