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AI: A Student’s Friend OR Foe? How To Avoid Plagiarism Offenses

By Teresa Placha

Algoma University Policy on AI

Algoma University does not currently have a policy in place specific to the student use of AI in coursework.

However, every semester, many students receive a Notice of Offense for academic dishonesty because their professor believes that the student either “cheated” or “plagiarized” using AI software.

Every professor may have their own unique standards for determining whether or not students have committed academic dishonesty. In some cases, professors have gone as far as to charge students who use grammar checks such as Grammarly with an offense. Depending on the circumstances, this can result in a mark of zero on the assignment, a mark of zero in the course, and/or expulsion from their program!

How to Avoid Offenses

If the professor has not mentioned the use of AI in the Course Syllabus, ask them to clarify and document their policy on AI for the benefit of all students. Be ready to show your work process. Save all drafts of your student work. Be able and ready to demonstrate the steps or your progress in coming up with solutions or final conclusions.

If participating in group work, be ready to show your chat history with group members, google history, etc. Note: your professor cannot demand access to your chat or Google history in order to prove your innocence.

Ask your professor about how to make proper citations and references to other sources of information used in your research. Ask your professor to clarify their policy on plagiarism and how to avoid the unintended consequences of being charged with academic dishonesty.

Contact your professor as soon as possible if there is any accusation of plagiarism. Request a meeting to discuss the specific criteria used to determine which parts of the assignment were plagiarized. The automated software used by professors is not fool-proof and can sometimes flag student work for the wrong reasons.

If your professor uses automated software, and/or uses a camera to detect plagiarism, ask them in advance of the submission date or exam date for the specific behaviours that might be flagged as risky or questionable.

If you have requested a meeting with the professor and have not received a response, please feel free to contact the AUSU Ombudsperson. They are ready to assist you through the process and will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Final Thoughts

If your professor has not responded to your questions within 48 hours, contact AUSU at for more information.


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