Academic Misconduct is any action that produces an improper advantage for the student in relation to their assessment(s) or deliberately and unnecessarily disadvantages other students. It can be committed intentionally or accidentally.
This can involve obvious things like taking notes or taking a mobile phone into your exam, but it can also involve copying other people's work or submitting work that is not your own. It can even include working with a friend on a piece of work when you were supposed to work alone.
The most common types of academic misconduct are:
- Plagiarism: This is where you copy work from elsewhere (e.g. internet sources, Wikipedia, textbooks) and don't make it clear that it isn't your work. Using source material, even quoting from it, is OK, but you must reference the work properly.
- Collusion: This is where you work with someone else, such as a friend, when the assessment rules state you should work alone
- Examination misconduct: The most common examples of examination misconduct include taking notes or a mobile telephone into the exam room when you're not allowed to, or simply being a nuisance or disrupting your fellow students. Less common examples can include getting somebody else to pretend to be you.
What happens if I commit academic misconduct?
If a member of staff, such as your essay marker or your exam invigilator, thinks you've committed academic misconduct, they will report it to your School for investigation.
What happens next depends on your school, what you're studying, and what you are alleged to have done.
Your School should provide you with information about their concerns ahead such as a copy of a turnitin report or an invigilator's exam report by email with a brief explnation of what their concerns are. If you do not receive this information you should email your School to request it ahead of any meeting you are invited to.
Your School will initially conduct a preliminary investigation into any suspected academic misconduct before deciding whether to treat the matter one of the following:
- Poor Academic Practice
- Academic Misconduct
- Serious Academic Misconduct
As part of a preliminary procedure you may be invited to a meeting with the person who believes they detected possible academic misconduct, and in that meeting it'll be decided if you have committed academic misconduct. If you have, an appropriate punishment will be agreed between you. If you don't agree that you've committed academic misconduct, or with the punishment, you can ask to attend an Academic Misconduct Panel.
If you are accused of not submitting your own work, you may be asked specific questions about your work or interviewed as part of a preliminary investigation to establish whether it was written solely by you or with the help of someone else. In such cases you should contact us for more advice.
Academic Misconduct Panel
If the alleged misconduct is more serious or if you didn't agree with the outcome of the preliminary meeting, you'll be invited to a meeting in front of an Academic Misconduct Panel.
This panel will consist of three academic members of staff. They will have the paperwork relating to your alleged misconduct in front of them and they will ask you about what happened. This is your opportunity to explain why the alleged misconduct happened or to explain why you don't think you've done anything wrong. These panel hearings usually last for about 30 minutes, and the panel will normally tell you their decision before you leave.
If you admit that you've committed academic misconduct, or if you it’s found that misconduct occurred (either at the preliminary stage or after a panel hearing), there are a number of penalties that may be imposed on you. Which penalty is given will depend on how serious the incident is, and whether you have done it before. These are the most common ones:
- Reduced mark: this can be given for minor first time offences by not marking the sections affected (e.g. not marking plagiarised sections of an essay).
- Mark of zero: The most common penalty. This means that the work affected by your misconduct will be given a mark of zero, which means you will fail the work.
- Referral to the University Disciplinary Panel: If the Academic Misconduct Panel think your academic misconduct is very serious, they will refer the matter to the University Disciplinary Panel. That Panel has the power to impose stronger penalties including expulsion.
What happens next?
- If you're cleared of academic misconduct, your work will be marked as normal and you won't receive any penalty at all.
- If you're given a reduced mark, your work will be marked with the reduction applied. If this still gives you a good enough grade to pass, you will do so. If the mark isn't good enough for you to pass, then you will fail the piece of work.
- If you're given a mark of zero, you will have failed the piece of work. If you fail a piece of work as a result of academic misconduct, this will be treated as any other fail:
- If you have resits available, then you will be allowed to take these. Usually the resit attempt will be capped at the pass mark (40 for undergraduates, 50 for postgraduates). In more serious cases of academic misconduct your resit attempt may also be capped at zero, though you would get the credits for passing (so you wouldn't fail your course).
- If you don't have resits available, then usually the assessment board will fail you and withdraw you from your course. This is usually what happens when academic misconduct on a resit attempt.
If you're referred to the University Discipline Panel, they can:
- Apply any punishment open to the Academic Misconduct Panel
- Remove your right to take resits (i.e. you will fail your course)
- Expel you from the University
What support is available to help you avoid academic misconduct?
It can be hard to understand all the rules, especially if you're new to higher education or new to the UK education system. Therefore, the Library and Learning Success provide lots of support on study skills, including advice and guidance on referencing correctly. Take time to attend their workshops and seek support if you're still struggling. Your tutors can also help if you're still uncertain about referencing, or if you're uncertain whether what you're doing might be academic misconduct.
More information on how to avoid academic misconduct and develop positive study skills can be found here.
What support is available if you have been accused of academic misconduct?
If you've been accused of academic misconduct our Union Advice service can help. We can advise you throughout the process, helping you prepare a statement to present your case to your School and also help you understand what might happen next.
We also have a self help guide (https://www.citystudents.co.uk/advice/selfhelpguides/academicmisconduct/
The University's Academic Misconduct Policy and Guidance explains the process in detail (LPC/BPTC students should refer to the assesment regulations in their Assessment Handbook).
How can we help with academic misconduct?
Our Union Advice service is independent from the University and we can:
- Explain the academic misconduct regulations and process.
- Advise you on responding to the allegations.
- Advise on how to put together a statement to respond to the allegations.
- Accompany you to meetings with your School.
- Provide ongoing advice throughout the process.
Contact us by email: email@example.com
Alternatively see our self help guide (https://www.citystudents.co.uk/advice/selfhelpguides/academicmisconduct/)