Academic Integrity covers all of your assessments and examinations, and represents best practice in ensuring your work is your own, and any information taken from elsewhere is given proper citation (also known as referencing). You may receive a letter with an allegation of a breach of academic integrity that relates to:
- Plagiarism: You have areas within an assessment that are from an unreferenced source (presenting someone else's work as your own)
- Reuse of Previously Submitted Material: This is the reuse of your own work without proper referencing, that has been submitted for a previous assessment.
- Collusion: Where two or more individuals have worked together, resulting in work that looks similar, but has been presented as individual assessments.
There are also several areas which falls under the more severe Academic Misconduct:
- Commissioning: When a student engages another individual to complete the essay for them (whether paid or unpaid)
- Falsification: Presentation of fake or altered documents, data, or other materials as part of an assessment. This includes presenting fake evidence to apply for mitigating circumstances or similar.
- Research Misconduct: Failure to get ethical approval or to comply with relevant legal obligations for research projects.
- Cheating: Any action before, during or after an exam that aims to give you an unfair advantage or assist another student to do so.
This is not an exhaustive list of areas which may breach the academic integrity policy, but covers the main points. If you have an allegation which does not fit these, please get in touch for further advice.
Here is a visual guide of what is likely to happen with your investigation:
If you've found yourself at the start of an Academic Integrity investigation, you may be wondering what is ahead. Your first steps should be to:
- Write a written response to the allegations
- Confirm attendance at the initial meeting
- Attend the initial meeting
Writing a written response.
The letter you have received will usually include some details of what you have allegedly done. We would advise that you read through this, and draft a written resposne to send back to the department. One of our advice team can read through this for you. You can include information such as your reaction to the allegations, what study skills support you have been given or anything else you feel is relevant.
Here is an example written response (this example has been written by one of our advice team and does not relate to any case the team has seen):
"Dear Mr Smith,
I am disappointed to have received this letter, and have read through the Turnitin report to find out what has gone wrong.
I have unintentionally made mistakes with my referencing; missing some speech marks and some citations within the essay. I have struggled to concentrate and focus due to personal circumstances, but did not apply for mitigating circumstances as I felt I could complete the work. I have already accessed support from study skills to improve my referencing, and will proof read my work more thoroughly in future.
I can confirm that I will be attending the meeting on Monday 10th September 2018 at 10am. I will also have a Students' Union representative with me.
The Initial Meeting
If you would like an advisor to attend you initial meeting with you, we will need to know the date, time and location of the meeting. We will then confirm if an advisor is available.
The initial meeting is intended to discuss the allegation with you. The meeting will usually be arranged with the chair of the Module Assessment Board. This may involve showing you the Turnitin report with areas of plagiarism highlighted for instance, or individually meeting with students who they feel may be involved in collusion, or inviting you to attend a Viva examination which is a spoken Q&A about your essay.
You will be given the opportunity to explain what you believe has happened, including any information you feel is important. The Chair of the Module Assessment Board cannot take into account if there was intent involved, but will usually note down anything you feel is important on the AI-2 form.
At the end of the meeting, the Chair will complete the AI-2 form, and decide whether they feel there has been a Breach of the Academic Integrity policy or not and make a recommendation to the Academic Integrity team. All cases are then referred to a subgroup who will decide if they agree with the decision of the chair, and propose an appropriate penalty.
You can choose to disagree with the decision of the chair, which will give you the opportunity to meet with an Academic Integrity panel. Depending on the severity of your case, this may be passed along to be discussed at an Academic Integrity panel, to which you will be invited.
The penalty for a breach of academic integrity and how it is dealt with will depend on a number of conditions, including if this is the first time you have breached the policy, and if they subgroup have deemed the breach to be unacceptable academic practice or academic misconduct. For a breach due to unacceptable academic practice (such as plagiarism), for a first offence, it is usual for a standard penalty applied.
The standard penalties are as follows:
- Level 3 and 4 – The work is remarked with the section/s of the work that contains breaches of the Academic integrity policy removed. You will then receive the new mark, this could be substantially lower than the initial mark
- Level 5 and above – A standard penalty will be imposed. This will involve you sitting an additional online course which will enhance your awareness of Academic Integrity. If you pass this test you will then the work is remarked with the section/s of the work that contains breaches of the Academic integrity policy removed. You will then receive the new mark, this could be substantially lower than the initial mark
- If this is your second offence or you disagree with the departmental findings then the case will be referred to an Academic integrity panel.
The full list of penalties are highlighted within the Academic Integrity policy, which you can find [here].
Academic Integrity Online Course
The academic integrity online course is a short course which you will be asked to complete under certain standard penalties. You will be sent a link to the course via email, and this will entail looking at several areas of academic integrity, and is designed to help improve your knowledge of academic writing. There will be a few questions on each section for you to complete, which will establish if you pass or fail the course.
If your case falls into a more severe breach of Academic Integrity, is a second offence, or you have disputed the decision made by the staff member in your initial meeting, you will be invited to attend an Academic Integrity panel.
At this panel, you will be given the opportunity to explain what has happened, and be asked questions regarding your work. You can request representation at panel meetings, by providing the Advice Team with a date, time and location for the meeting.
The panel will discuss with you what has happened, and will usually then ask you to withdraw. The decision of the panel will usually be communicated to you within 14 days of the hearing. This will include the penalty applied if relevant.
You can appeal the outcome of an Academic Integrity investigation on certain grounds. These are:
- That there were procedural or administrative irregularities in the conduct of the procedure
- That there were compelling reasons, which can be substantiated, to explain why you were unable to mount a defence to the allegation of a breach of academic integrity.
To appeal the decision, you will need to complete the academic appeals form. The Appeals form and the Guidance notes for completing the form are available on portal at: https://portal.chester.ac.uk/aqss/Pages/aqss-academic-appeals.aspx