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Medical How do I handle academic Integrity issue?

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Jun 11, 2010
67,017
2
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Somewhere west of St. Louis
  1. Non-Student
I have read a ton on SDN about academic integrity, but my story is a bit different.

Here’s what happened. A student posted a single multiple choice quiz question in a chat. I answered, thinking that she, as so many students do, was looking for clarification after the quiz. I thought I was being helpful, but turned out that she was still taking the quiz.

I was charged with “unauthorized collaboration on a quiz/exam.” Note: I had not taken the quiz yet, I did not receive anything in return, and I was not accused of cheating on my own quiz. Also, the quiz was open notes, open book, open browser, and you can take it as many times as you want – in fact, it is encouraged as the questions are randomized.

I have hired a lawyer and am fighting the charge through the academic integrity process. Everyone I’ve talked to, including multiple advisors, think this is an overreach because of the format of the quiz and my lack of intent (though my university does not take intent into account), but an initial review by the board found me guilty. I am now appealing, but I am worried.

If I don't win the appeal, I know I’ll have to report it, own it, etc. but will this truly impact my medical school chances.

Aside from this possible IA, I have a 3.95+ GPA, MCAT of 518 (in practice since I can’t take right now), 150+ hours of shadowing multiple physicians, 250 hours clinical volunteering, 150 hours of volunteering in a women’s shelter, 150 hours of volunteering taking notes for disadvantaged students, an executive position on the honors fraternity, and a published thesis.

Multiple people have said not to worry, but I am.
Really this is is minor. There's cheating, and then there's CHEATING!

Did your professor have any sort of policy that forbade this? Did you know that a quiz was going on? What were you doing when she was taking the quiz and you weren't?

I do think that the professor is setting him/her self up for well, failure, given the lack of stringency on the quiz. Allowing access to chat while giving a quiz really stupid.

I did not receive anything in return, and I was not accused of cheating on my own quiz.
Irrelevant to your situation.

Get a trusted faculty member to write you an LOR explaining this, as well as extolling all your virtues.
 
Oct 14, 2011
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  1. Academic Administration
Thank you! The professor did have a policy for quizzes, but I did not think the quiz was going on. The quizzes have various due dates and they are weeks out. The person was taking the quiz early, well before it was due. I didn't even know the person and the interaction took place during spring break - I was actually studying for another test (I know, fun). She posted a question in chat and I responded with "C, I think". The whole interaction was less than a minute.

The academic integrity board upheld the complaint even though they privately acknowledged it didn't fit the definition of a quiz according to the university. I think this is strange, so I am appealing.

Thanks for your thoughts!
Treat it as if it were an IA. Agree with @Goro, get a reference to discuss this in an LOR. Given your description, there are a lot of questions that can be brought up about the standards of integrity in administering the exam. Disclose it as you should, and be prepared to talk about it on the facts and lessons learned.
 
Jun 11, 2010
67,017
2
103,021
276
Somewhere west of St. Louis
  1. Non-Student
Thanks @Goro and @Mr.Smile12! Does it matter that this happened during COVID-19 and the move to online? My example was given as a "we will write up even the smallest infections". My guess is no.

Would I fall in the automatic reject pile for a Top 20 school? That is my goal and I believe I have the credentials - aside from this.
Being online puts even more of the onus for the professor to make the assessments as cheat proof as possible.

That said, do NOT look for any excuses.

You should concentrate on getting into a medical school, not merely a T20 (of which there are at least 30 schools).
 
Oct 14, 2011
7,494
3,736
226
  1. Academic Administration
Thanks @Goro and @Mr.Smile12! Does it matter that this happened during COVID-19 and the move to online? My example was given as a "we will write up even the smallest infections". My guess is no.

Would I fall in the automatic reject pile for a Top 20 school? That is my goal and I believe I have the credentials - aside from this.
It doesn't matter. Life's not always fair. You don't always get justice or what you think is a just result. Accept it and go forward.

Sent from my SM-N960U using SDN mobile
 
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Jun 11, 2010
67,017
2
103,021
276
Somewhere west of St. Louis
  1. Non-Student
Thanks both. This is fresh so I am shocked, remorseful, processing, and learning. From what you've and others have said, I don't think this should define me or block me from my goal of becoming a physician. It's something to address directly and with a LOR.
It's not that anything defines you, it's that it's a seller's market for med schools. I also apologize for being harsh, but this is a reality check time...this process isn't about you, it's about what med schools want.

Sometimes Life throws you a curve ball, if not an actual beanball (look it up). How you deal with this is one of the things we look for...resilience and grit are good things.
 
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