Malpractice in Coursework or Examinations
The rules of the university and the examination regulations define in detail the definitions and penalties for dealing with malpractice. You can find these on the university website. It is important that you abide by these rules and don’t attempt to gain advantage by any unfair means. When submitting coursework, it must be your own work and any assistance must be correctly acknowledged. Useful advice can be found at:
In recent years the Internet has become a source for plagiarism malpractice; however, mechanisms for detecting such practice are also increasingly sophisticated.
Departmental Advice on Malpractice / Plagiarism:
Lancaster’s academic enterprise is rooted in a culture of trust and integrity, and this underpins all aspects of the institution’s teaching and learning strategy. Most students do not cheat – they are honest and hard working, and they rightly deserve the trust of their tutors. Cheating, which is a form of academic malpractice, is the exception not the norm.
But some students do cheat, in different ways and for different reasons. In order to be fair on those who don’t and to protect the institution’s academic reputation and credibility, procedures are required to reduce the likelihood of cheating, to detect when it is happening, and to deal with those found guilty of it.
The University’s Plagiarism Framework (and the sanctions within it) applies to all coursework submitted by students for examination by the University in all academic programmes other than research degrees.
Academic integrity is important because, without honesty and trust, true academic discourse becomes impossible, learning is distorted and the evaluation of student progress and academic quality is seriously compromised. Consequently, the University is committed to –
Forms of Cheating:
Cheating, a form of academic malpractice, includes: cheating in examinations, plagiarism, duplication and false declaration.
Cheating in examinations: occurs when a candidate communicates, or attempts to communicate, with a fellow candidate or individual who is neither an invigilator or member of staff; copies, or attempts to copy from a fellow candidate; attempts to introduce or consult during the examination any unauthorised printed or written material, or electronic calculating or information storage device; or mobile phones or other communication device; or personates or allows himself or herself to be impersonated.
Plagiarism involves the unacknowledged use of someone else’s work, usually in coursework (written or oral), and passing it off as if it were one’s own. This category of cheating includes the following:
Fabrication of results occurs when a student claims to have carried out tests, experiments or observations that have not taken place or presents results not supported by the evidence with the object of obtaining an unfair advantage.
Deliberate and inadvertent plagiarism:
Many students who plagiarise probably do so inadvertently, without realising it – because of inexperienced study skills, including note taking, referencing and citations. Many students (particularly those from different cultures and educational systems) find UK academic referencing/acknowledgement systems and conventions awkward, and proof-reading is not always easy for dyslexic students and some visually-impaired students.
However, ignorance of proper procedures or good practice in academic writing is no excuse, particularly if a student has previously been accused of plagiarism, advised to seek study skills help, and fails to learn the lessons.
Why is plagiarism a problem?
The University regards all forms of cheating as unacceptable, because they undermine the core values of academic integrity (honesty and trust). Each form of cheating is a breach of the University Regulations, and is liable to be pursued by appropriate disciplinary action.
A student who knowingly assists another student to plagiarise (for example by willingly giving them their own work to copy from) is guilty of academic malpractice, and will be dealt with under existing University Regulations.
It is essential that you reference all your sources in your written and oral assessed work. Failure to do so is plagiarism. All instances of plagiarism are taken seriously and will result in the imposition of a penalty, possibly a very heavy one.
We reserve the right to ask students on all Part II courses with the Department to submit copies of their coursework electronically via Moodle, in order to use plagiarism detection software. Please only submit via Moodle as directed by your tutor, the course convenor or the Part II office.
What are the penalties for plagiarism?
How is plagiarism punished?
In all cases where plagiarism is deemed to have occurred, the student will receive a written warning and details of the offence will be recorded by the Department and on your central record.
Three minor offences will be considered equivalent to one major offence. Upon identification of a possible third minor offence, the case shall be referred to the Department’s Academic Officer. If the student already has a major offence on their record, the case would usually be referred to the University Standing Academic Committee.
Where an academic marker defines an offence as major, s/he will annotate any plagiarised material and submit a report, including a hard copy of the source used by the student, to the Department’s Academic Officer. A major offence shall be defined as copying multiple paragraphs in full without acknowledgement of the source, taking essays from the Internet without revealing the source, copying all or much of the work of a fellow student without his/her knowledge or consent, submitting the same piece of work for assessment under multiple modules, and cheating in a class test.
In the case of a major or major-equivalent offence, the Academic Officer will give the student the opportunity to discuss the allegation in a formal meeting, having provided the student with documentary evidence beforehand (e.g. a Turnitin report or coursework annotated by the academic marker). The student is encouraged to bring a representative e.g. a friend, LUSU Officer or College Tutor, and the meeting will include at least one other person from the Department e.g. the Course Convenor, who will take a record of the meeting. After the student and his/her representative have been asked, temporarily, to withdraw, the panel discusses the student’s response to the allegations made and the appropriate action to be taken.
The Academic Officer will decide whether:
a) no offence has occurred, in which case the work will be marked normally.
The result of the meeting will be sent to the student in writing within one week, and to the Student Registry, which keeps a central record of offences. The Academic Officer also makes a report on the case to the Department’s Teaching Committee, informs all tutors, and, if necessary, reports to the Board of Examiners.
If the student does not accept the decision of the Academic Officer, s/he has the right to appear in person before the Standing Academic Committee.
Note-taking and Referencing:
In your essays, make sure that you reference all material that you have consulted. This includes all:
Using other people’s ideas:
Examples of Plagiarism, and how to avoid it:
Below is an extract from Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996), p.12. This quotation is then followed by examples of the three main types of plagiarism (of ideas, of a striking phrase, and blatant copying) and advice on how to avoid them.
The fact that we always interpret literary works to some extent in the light of our own concerns – indeed that in one sense of ‘our own concerns’ we are incapable of doing anything else – might be one reason why certain works of literature seem to retain their value across the centuries. It may be, of course, that we still share many preoccupations with the work itself; but it may also be that people have not actually been valuing the ‘same’ work at all, even though they may think they have. ‘Our’ Homer is not identical with the Homer of the Middle Ages, nor ‘our’ Shakespeare with that of his contemporaries; it is rather that different historical periods have constructed a ‘different’ Homer and Shakespeare for their own purposes, and found in these texts elements to value or devalue, though not necessarily the same ones.
(a) Plagiarism of ideas:
S/he could have avoided plagiarism thus:
You can see how much better the legitimate version sounds anyway: your argument has been backed up by a good authority whom you could then go on to use to make your argument more sophisticated than the initial unacknowledged idea. The Bibliography (at the end of the essay) would have included Eagleton, Terry, Literary Theory (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996).
(b) The Striking Phrase:
S/he could have avoided plagiarism thus:
Bibliography will be as above.
(c) Blatant Copying: Verbatim or near-verbatim copying of the critic’s statements.
Or perhaps our plagiarist decided to rephrase it slightly (this is still plagiarism even if some of the actual words are different):
S/he could have avoided plagiarism thus:
Or, to avoid plagiarism, s/he could have tried a more sophisticated version that neatly shortens the quotation to what is really essential for the present argument and doesn’t waste words:
Points to Remember
Remember that tutors will go to great lengths to track down source texts, and punishments for plagiarism are serious. Having a record of plagiarism on your file will affect any references tutors write for you.
If you follow the rules there is nothing to worry about.
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Previous: Undergraduate Assessment Regulations
Next: Referencing Your Work
For undergraduate information including:
Livi Michael- Royal Literary Fund Fellow
For help with your academic writing visit our Royal Literary Fund Fellow
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