Academic Letter to File

Understanding an academic letter to file sent to you by a faculty member

MIT expects all students to demonstrate intellectual honesty, curiosity, and individual engagement with assignments, projects, exams, research, and other academic pursuits.  To do so is to have academic integrity.  Any form plagiarism, cheating, or any acts that demonstrate academic dishonesty is considered a serious violation of our expectations of each other as members of an academic community.  Academic misconduct reduces how much you learn, infringes on the overall quality of others' experience, and runs counter to the ethical decision making taught at MIT.

Outreach and Prevention

When feelings of being overwhelmed and pressure arise due to coursework and the temptation to establish short cuts is being comtemplated, don't risk the violations of academic integrity that may jeopardize your academic career. Try seeking our resources that are available to asist and manage your academic endeavors. Talk to your professor, visit Student Support Serivces, and check out the main resources available in our related links.

An academic letter to file is a warning from a faculty member regarding a specific instance of academic misconduct in that faculty member's course. This is one option of resolution in academic misconduct cases. 

What are the consequences?

The consequences for cheating, plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, and other forms of academic dishonesty vary widely based on the severity and nature of the allegations.  Eggregious academic misconduct can be very serious, possibly including suspension or expulsion from the Institute.  Instructors decide how to handle violations of academic integrity on a case-by-case basis, and three general options exist.  Questions about these options should be directed to the Office of Student Conduct.

1. Academic action within the subject

  • Instructors may determine an academic consequence ranging from redoing the assignment for a reduced grade to failure of the subject.
  • When an instructor chooses this option, they are encouraged also to submit documentation to the Office of Student Conduct in the form of a letter to file or a COD complaint.  Those options are outlined below. 

2. Faculty letter to file

  • Informal letters to file can be done in conjunction with academic actions within the subject. 
  • Informal letters to file are generally maintained as internal records only.  If a student has subsequent alleged violations, letters to file would be reviewed as part of the determination about how the newer case would be resolved.
  • Students who receive a faculty letter to file may submit a reply for the file or request that the Committee on Discipline (COD) review their case.

3. Committee on Discipline (COD) complaint

  • COD complaint can be submitted in conjunction with academic action within the course. 
  • A COD complaint will be reviewed by the COD Chair and considered for a hearing.  Cases resulting in a hearing are subject to a full range of sanctioning outcomes, including probation, suspension, dismissal, and educational sanctions.