Western University BiologyWestern Science

Student Rights and Responsibilities

Western University is a community of faculty, students and staff that is engaged in pursuits related to teaching and learning and research.  Since its inception, the university has been recognized as an institution where both faculty and students are offered academic freedom to pursue inquiry in an environment that promotes equity, respect, and honesty.

All students, as members of the University Community, accept a responsibility to maintain and uphold the purposes of the University and, in particular, its standards of scholarship. It follows, therefore, that acts of a nature which prejudice the academic standards of the University are offences subject to discipline.

As well, all students have the right (i) to be reasonably accommodated for a range of medical, religious and personal issues, (ii) to appeal any academic decision regarding the mark given in a course, on a test or assignment, and (iii) to appeal any charge of alleged academic misconduct. 

Academic Appeals

A request for relief relating to a specific mark, a course grade, the appropriateness of assignments, examinations, or grading practices must be initiated promptly with the appropriate course instructor. 

If the issue is not resolved following discussions with the course instructor then a written submission requesting relief should be sent to the Associate Chair- Undergraduate Education - Denis Maxwell.  Email correspondence is preferred.  It is important in a letter of appeal to detail the basis for the appeal and what is being requested.

More detailed information regarding academic appeals including appeal deadlines are found here.  

Academic Accommodation: Medical reasons, religious observation, athletics, compassionate reasons/Bereavement

If you are seeking academic accommodation for any reason, follow these steps:

1.  Inform your course instructor(s) by email that you missed or will miss a course component. 

2.  Access the website of the Academic Counselling Office of YOUR home faculty to complete an Accommodation Request Form. Find more information for the Faculty of Science here.

Scholastic Offenses Including Plagiarism

All students should be familiar with Western's Code of Student Conduct (PDF).  As well, Western has well articulated policies regarding scholastic discipline (PDF). This document outlines a complete list of behaviours that are worthy of disciplinary action, including cheating.

Plagiarism

The most common form of academic misconduct is plagiarism, which may be defined as “the act or an instance of copying or stealing another’s words or ideas and attributing them as one’s own." This concept applies with equal force to all assignments, including laboratory reports, diagrams, and computer projects.

Department of Biology guidelines and procedures regarding plagiarism

For each course offered by the Department of Biology the course outline refers to plagiarism and the penalties that may be brought to bear.  Many course instructors use the software Turnitin to identify similarities between a submitted assignment and previously authored works in the vast Turnitin database.  Turnitin does not by itself identify plagiarism, this is done by the Associate Chair - Undergraduate who looks at any matching text and decides whether the match constitutes an act of plagiarism. 

When a Biology instructor suspects that an act of plagiarism has occurred they inform the Associate Chair Undergraduate who, after notifying the student, is tasked with investigating the allegation in more detail before arriving at an independent conclusion.  Any penalty that may be leveed on a student is made after consultation with the course instructor.  Depending upon the severity of the copying, the penalty may range from a percentage deduction on the assignment to a grade of zero in the course. Students that are found to plagiarise repeatedly are subject to more severe discipline levied by the Dean of Science. 

Any decision by the Department that concludes that a scholastic offense has been committed can be appealed.  The stepwise method of appealing an decision is found here