In a course, the professor sets an open book exam with the restriction that students can use only class notes and textbook in any electronic device(mobile, laptop, etc). In short, no internet during exam.

A student came across few previous year exams from another university which has exact same syllabus for the course. The student went through these exams(with solutions) one day before the exam and the student could remember most of it. It turned out that the exact same questions appeared in that student's exam next day. The student wrote down similar answers.

Now the professor accuses the student for academic dishonesty and says that the answers should have been cited in the exam.


  1. Should the answers be cited by the student in exam? With no internet access how would the student get the link of reference.

  2. Should the questions be cited as well by the professor in the exam. Even these are taken from another university exams (word-by-word) ?

  3. Does academic integrity apply to only students or can it apply to even professors? Can any action be taken on the professor if any student happens to have lots of evidence that not just exam questions but all of the coursework including slides of powerpoint are copied from another university coursework with no sign of citation?

  • 1
    Unfortunately, too frequently, what should be better done in a certain situation may be quite different from what a professor wants to be done. Nov 11, 2018 at 18:53
  • Hi and welcome. Question 1 is not really related to questions 2 and 3, so they should really be in two separate posts. (See also Tu quoque fallacy; whether the professor is wrong is irrelevant to whether the student is.) Nov 11, 2018 at 18:59
  • Questions 2 and 3 have been addressed here. Nov 11, 2018 at 19:00
  • 1
    The real issue, that you did not add as a question, is that the professor was paid to write the exam, which clearly he did not do. Is this ethical?
    – Solar Mike
    Nov 11, 2018 at 20:31

1 Answer 1


If the case is fairly stated then the professor is not being reasonable. Students shouldn't have to cite what they study prior to the exam. In fact, in order to provide a proper citation the student might actually have to return to the site to get the proper citation, breaking the rule in order to uphold it - Catch 22.

However, since "innocent until proven guilty" may not be the operative standard (sadly) it may be difficult for the student to make the case. But it is worth making and should be made forcefully. Appeal to higher authority if necessary.

I will leave your last two questions unanswered as they are treated elsewhere on this site and don't really affect the outcome for the student, which I treat as paramount here.

  • There's also a difference between acknowledging that you didn't come up with something yourself and providing a full and complete bibliographic citation. For example, you can say "According to Heimdall's Theorem from the early 1920's, both sides of the equation reduce to zero during a spline reticulation where x > 3", or simply zero out the equation and write "Heimdall's Theorem" next to it. You don't need a full name, journal name, date (was it 1/3/1923, or did it come out in the Math on Christmas volume of 1922?) , page number, etc. like you might if you were writing a term paper. Nov 20, 2018 at 16:46

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