Academic Misconduct - Frequently Asked Questions

What is academic misconduct?

The University defines academic misconduct as:

‘Any action or attempted action that may result in creating an unfair academic advantage or disadvantage for any other member(s) of the academic community’

Developing knowledge will often require that you consider the work of other scholars and practitioners. For example, if you were analysing a famous work of art, or piece of music, it would make sense to find out what other scholars have written about the subject as well as developing your own opinions.

Understanding how to use the work of other scholars and practitioners, including your peers, to develop your own insights into a subject is an important professional skill. It is not acceptable to use the work of others without explicit acknowledgement.

'Work’ means any words, ideas or creative output of others, including material on the internet. It does not matter whether this 'work’ is published or unpublished. This means that whenever you include the work of others in your own assessments, you must provide a reference.

Why do I need to reference?

Referencing correctly allows you to give respect to the original creators of the work. During your course, you will be expected to follow professional academic conventions such as Harvard referencing.
This will be taught as part of your course and you will learn how to correctly acknowledge the work of others that you have used in your own work.

What are the different types of academic misconduct

Some examples of academic misconduct, which you should avoid, are;

  • Plagiarism

Taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as your own.

  • Cheating

Acting dishonestly or unfairly during an assessment. For example, sneaking in unauthorised notes during an exam.

  • Contract Cheating

Putting out to tender or buying work. For example, buying an essay from an 'Essay Mill’.

  • Falsification

Falsifying information or theories. For example, claiming to have completed placement hours that did not actually take place.

  • Recycling

Using a piece of work you had previously completed again.

Examples include (for a more complete list please consult the regulations):

Can I get help with referencing?

Yes you can.

The University has a Student Development and Study Skills Service which provides advice, information and resources to help improve academic performance and develop transferable skills for employment. Study skills support is available through an annual programme of workshops, individual and small group tutorials and online resources.

Further information is available here: http://studyskills.southwales.ac.uk/.

In addition, the University Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching offers a range of training and information, including a Guide to Referencing: http://studentlibrary.southwales.ac.uk/referencing/ .

I have received a letter that says I’m suspected of academic misconduct. What does this mean?

This means that it is suspected that you have committing academic misconduct.

A report of the outlining the suspected academic misconduct will be forwarded to you and you will be invited to discuss the allegation with a panel. The panel will considers the allegation and all the evidence, including your account, and decide if academic misconduct has occurred.

The panel will normally meet with you within 20 working days from when the allegation is raised.

If you have any specific questions regarding the allegation or the conduct of the panel you should respond to the member of staff who sent you the letter inviting you to the panel and ask for clarification.

Who makes allegations of academic misconduct?

Allegations are normally made by members of staff involved with assessment. An allegation may be made by an invigilator in an exam setting or by the member of academic staff who has marked your coursework.

What evidence is considered?

You will be sent copies of any evidence to be considered with the allegation letter. The panel will also receive this information. If you have any evidence you wish the panel to consider you should send it to the University in advance of the meeting. If you want to submit evidence during the meeting itself, this will only be allowed with the permission of the Chair of the panel.

Please ensure that if your evidence is in a language other than English that you also obtain a translation of the document.

Please also be aware that the University does not accept extenuating circumstances, such as ill health, as a justification for committing academic misconduct.

What is a Turnitin report?

Some courses ask students to submit electronic copies of their work through 'Turnitin’. This is software that provides a report identifying any matches within student’ work to sources held within its database.

Is the Turnitin report always correct?

Turnitin matches unreferenced text in your work to sources held in its database. Therefore, it may identify the sources incorrectly. The important point is that the system believes the text to be taken from a source which has not been acknowledged, rather than identifying the actual source used.

For example, the report may match your work to that of a student at another University. However, in reality, you and the other student have not been in contact with each other. This may be explained by the fact that both you and the other student may have used the same text book/source. The important issue is whether the source you have used has been acknowledged/referenced. If you have copies of the original sources you used, you should bring these with you to the hearing.

Turnitin is a useful tool, but it can be somewhat limited. Therefore, members of staff will read the report carefully in conjunction with your work, to decide if academic misconduct has taken place, and will not just rely on the score generated by the software

Do I have to attend the panel meeting?

No, you do not have to attend the meeting. However, due to the seriousness of the allegation you are strongly advised to attend. The majority of students in this position do attend hearings and take the opportunity to present their case.

You can also bring somebody with you to the meeting to support you, for example a friend, family member or a representative of the Students’ Union. However, you are not allowed to send another person to the meeting on your behalf.

What if I cannot attend on the date given?

You will normally be expected to attend the meeting on the date given. However, in exceptional circumstances, a meeting can be rearranged once only. You must advise the University at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting if you require a revised date. Allowance may be made for one postponement.

Alternatively it may be possible to arrange a Skype meeting if you are out of the country.

What happens if I don’t attend?

If you do not wish to attend the meeting, it will go ahead in your absence. If the University does not hear back from you, despite having made a reasonable effort to contact you, the meeting will also go ahead in your absence.

Do you provide translators?

No, the University does not provide translators. The hearing will be conducted in English (or Welsh if requested). However, if you have any language difficulties you may arrange for someone to accompany you, this person may help translate for you.

Is there any help available for me?

Yes. The Student’s’ Union is available to advise you and help you with your case. For advice on the regulations or the panel proceedings you should contact the member of staff mentioned in your letter.

Who else will be at the hearing?

A senior member of academic staff from your faculty will normally chair the panel and another member of faculty staff will also be in attendance. Neither of these members of staff will have had any direct prior involvement in your case will attend the meeting.

The member of academic staff who raised the allegation will also attend the meeting to present the case. A member of the Academic Registry staff will be present to take notes and advise on the regulations. Witnesses may also be called to present evidence.

Who are the witnesses?

Witnesses may be invigilators or a member of academic staff from yourfaculty. You will be given an opportunity to question any witnesses who attend and they will withdraw after questioning.

Who calls the witnesses?

The panel will organise any witnesses the University wishes to call. You are also permitted to call any witnesses to support your case. You are entirely responsible for arranging for your own witnesses to attend and should inform Academic Registry of their names as soon as possible.

What happens during the panel meeting?

The Chair will ensure you are aware of why you have been invited to the meeting, the nature of the misconduct and will explain your rights. The Chair will read the accusation made against you and invite you to respond to the accusation. You will be asked to confrim you accept the allegation or not?

The member of academic staff who raised the allegation will present the case against you and may call witnesses as appropriate.

You will have received copies of evidence presented to the panel, but you will be given an opportunity to see any other evidence referred to by the panel during the course of the meeting.

The member of academic staff who raised the allegation may question you as well as any witnesses called.

You will be given an opportunity to provide your perspective on the allegation by making a statement or by questioning witnesses.

You will be given an opportunity to comment on the evidence presented to the panel. You may also present any other evidence. When the questioning and submission of evidence has been completed, you will also be asked to leave and the panel will consider the evidence.

What are the possible outcomes?

The panel will decide whether or not they believe a case of academic misconduct has been found. The panel will decide whether the allegation of academic misconduct is substantiated or not. In some instances they may wish to defer a decision pending additional evidence.

How will I be informed of the outcome of the panel?

You will normally be sent a letter by Academic Registry informing you of the outcome.

What happens if my case is found to be unsubstantiated?

If the panel believes that no case exists against you, no record of the academic misconduct will exist on your student record.

If my case is substantiated, how will this affect me?

If the panel believe that academic misconduct has been committed they will decide on a penalty.

The following are the options available to a faculty or academic misconduct panel:

  • Issue a formal written warning as to future conduct. The warning will be retained on the student’s personal record.
  • Cancel mark for the element of assessment – student must resubmit the work for the element – the whole module is capped at 40%, but all other marks achieved in the module remain the same.
  • Cancel marks for the whole module – student must resubmit the work for all elements of assessment in order to pass the module – the module is capped at 40%.
  • Cancel all module marks for current stage – student is allowed to repeat the year.
  • Cancel all module marks for current stage – student is not allowed to repeat the year. The student is allowed to retain the credits already gained. The student is discontinued from their course but is eligible to apply for admission to a new course in accordance with the University’s admissions regulations.
  • In the most serious cases a recommendation may be made to the Vice-Chancellor (or nominee) that the student concerned be expelled. The student may be:

i) Expelled with credit – student is allowed to retain credits already gained; no further study at the University is allowed
ii) Expelled without credit – all existing credit is revoked; no further study at the University is allowed.

In addition to any decision made above you may be referred to an appropriate referencing workshop, individual tutorial or online information source. If you do not engage with the workshop, tutorial or online information source, an increased penalty, such as a written warning, can be issued by the chair of the panel.

What happens if I don’t agree with the decision?

If you don’t agree with the panel’s decision, a University Academic Misconduct Panel will be convened to consider the allegation. This panel is formed of members of staff independent of your faculty.

Can I appeal against the decision?

You are entitled to submit a request for review following notification of the faculty or academic misconduct panel outcome on the following grounds:

  • You have evidence that the procedures were not conducted in line with the regulations and this could cause reasonable doubt as to whether the same decision would have been reached had the issues not occurred.
  • That there has been an administrative error (for example, the notification of the penalty was not in line with the decision reached at the meeting or was recorded incorrectly on your record).

A request for review must be submitted within 10 working days of notification of the outcome of the faculty or academic misconduct panel case using the Academic Misconduct – Request for Review form which is available from http://uso.southwales.ac.uk/StudentCasework/AI/

Requests for review will not be accepted unless they comply with the requirements above.