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Unauthorized Collaboration

Tests, exams and assignments allow each student to demonstrate their understanding of the learning outcomes of their course.

Unauthorized collaboration with other students without the knowledge or consent of the instructor impedes the instructor's ability to accurately evaluate an individual’s learning and is a serious academic offence.


Review the definitions, examples and case studies below.

Loaning Work to Someone Else / Not Maintaining Security of Work


Sharing with another student(s) material for an individual assignment without realizing that sharing was not allowed.


  • Loaning material to a student not knowing that the other student would use the material in their assignment.
  • Leaving your computer unattended, allowing another student to copy material and use it as their own.

Case Study

Mira has to write a short paper for one of her classes but is struggling to come up with ideas.  Mira asks her friend Anna for help. Anna is taking the same course but with a different professor. Anna provides Mira with a draft version of her short paper to help Mira get some ideas on how to write her own. Mira really likes the version Anna is working on and decides to copy Anna’s work and submit it.  Even though Anna didn't intend for Mira to copy her work, she failed to keep her work secure from copying.This may be considered an academic offence.

Unauthorized Collaboration (Unintentional)


Submitting work prepared collaboratively with another person or people without knowing that this would be inappropriate.


  • Discussing an assignment with another student and then writing, independently, an essay containing identical themes and ideas as the other student’s work.
  • Incorporating into your work suggestions from another student.

Case Study

Teresa and Yun are taking the same class and have an individual assignment due at the end of the course. A few weeks before the assignment is due, Teresa and Yun discuss possible topics, as well as what resources and ideas they think should be included in the assignment. When Teresa and Yun start working on the assignment, they work independently. However, each student remembers their previous discussions and include within their respective work the almost identical topics, resources and ideas. Even though Teresa and Yun worked independently while writing their assignment, the collaboration they engaged in prior to the assignment should have included a plan to divide the topics, ideas and sources they had come up with so their final assignments differed in scope and direction.

Unauthorized Collaboration (Intentional)


Deliberately submitting work prepared collaboratively with someone else without explicit permission from the instructor.


  • Working on a take-home or online exam with others.
  • Asking another student to write part of his or her project.
  • Working with another student on developing computer code.
  • Dividing parts of an individual assignment with others and then assembling each contribution and submitting the work as their own.
  • Reviewing a previously submitted assignment, with instructor’s feedback, which was provide by a student who took the course in a prior semester.

Case Study 1

Elizabeth is taking a mathematics course. She is very good at math. Elizabeth has an individual take-home exam in which students are expected to calculate the solutions to multiple mathematical formulas. The professor says that each student has to do the work on their own. Elizabeth and several of her classmates decide it would save time if they divided the questions among themselves with each person solving several questions.  They share their answers with each other and submit the work individually. Elizabeth believes that since she would have gotten the answers right anyway, it is OK to work with her classmates on the exam. Elizabeth and her group are intentionally collaborating without permission, which is an academic offence.

Case Study 2

Chelsea has to write computer code for one of her computer science assignments. The instructor tells her class that it is OK to talk to other students about the best approaches to solving the problem, but each student must write their own code. Chelsea is struggling to get her code to work. She asks one of her classmates to look at her code and tell her where she is making her mistakes. Chelsea's classmate rewrites some of the code so that it works properly. Chelsea submits the rewritten code as her own work. By doing so, Chelsea has intentionally collaborated with another student without permission from her instructor (and knowing the assignment was meant to be her own work). This is an academic offence.