Accused of cheating after using an online study group or chat? Tips from a lawyer for students.

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Online study groups or chats are terrific and are opportunity for many students to come together and share ideas and information. It is a wonderful tool, however, there are some potential dangers.

Unauthorized collaboration or gaining an unfair academic advantage

An accusation of unauthorized collaboration is often an issue with assignments when the professor notes there is to be no collaboration.  Let’s say you have an assignment due and you are working on it independently, then someone gets on the study group chat and asks questions about the assignment or people start posting answers. This is considered unauthorized collaboration.

Unauthorized collaboration or gaining an unfair academic advantage can also happen with take home exams. Someone posts an answer to a question or asks what the answer to a question is, that is cheating. In some situations, not only does the person who posted or responded with answers gets in trouble, but the entire group as well. The university can charge groups of people because maybe you didn’t post the question or answer, but the school has evidence that you were part of the study group. They can argue that you could have benefited from that information.

How to avoid being charged with unauthorized collaboration or gaining an unfair academic advantage?

If you are working on an assignment or exam that should not be collaborative, you should remove yourself from the study group, even if just temporarily. Save screenshots or other evidence to show you were not part of the group during the time of the assignment or exam.

How do you defend an academic integrity violation of unauthorized collaboration or unfair academic advantage?

It is possible to mount a successful defense to these charges. However, the defense depends on the facts of your specific case.

Can you help me defend against a charge of unauthorized collaboration?

Yes. I assist students all over the country defend against unauthorized collaboration and other academic integrity charges. As a lawyer who represents college students, my expertise in the college disciplinary process gives each student the best chance for success.

Richard Asselta is an award-winning student defense lawyer who defends students facing honor code violations throughout the United States.

Click here to read what clients are saying about Richard Asselta on AVVO, a lawyer review website.

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