6.6 Cheating and Plagiarism

University policy on plagiarism can be found under the academic misconduct sections in the Handbook for Assessment, Progression and Awarding: Taught Programmes.  

What is cheating?

Cheating is defined as any illegitimate behaviour which may deceive those setting, administering and marking the assessment. Cheating in a University assessment is a very serious academic offence, which may lead ultimately to expulsion from the University. Cheating can take one of a number of forms, including:

  • The use of unauthorised books, notes, electronic aids or other materials in an examination.
  • Obtaining an examination paper ahead of its authorised release.
  • Collusion, i.e. the representation of another’s work or ideas as one’s own without appropriate acknowledgement or referencing, where the owner of the work knows of the situation and both work towards the deceit of a third party. This differs from plagiarism where the owner of the work does not knowingly allow the use of his or her work. In modules where ability in a language other than English is being assessed, unfair assistance from native speakers of the language is also deemed to be collusion. 
  • Acting dishonestly in any way including fabrication of data, whether before, during or after an examination or other assessment so as to either obtain or offer to others an unfair advantage in that examination or assessment.
  • Plagiarism.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the the act of representing another’s work or ideas as one’s own without appropriate acknowledgement or referencing. There are three main types of plagiarism, which could occur within all modes of assessment (including examination):

  • Direct copying of text from a book, article, fellow student's essay, handout, thesis, web page or other source without proper acknowledgement.
  • Claiming individual ideas derived from a book, article etc. as one's own, and incorporating them into one's work without acknowledging the source of these ideas.
  • Overly depending on the work of one or more others without proper acknowledgement of the source, by constructing an essay, project etc. by extracting large sections of text from another source, and merely linking these together with a few of one's own sentences.

6.6.1 What should I do to avoid being accused of plagiarism?

In order to avoid being accused of the more inadvertent forms of plagiarism you need to ensure that you adopt the following aspects of good practice:

  • Adopt a good note-taking technique.
  • Make sure while you are reading and taking notes that you keep accurate records of the author, title, and publication details of source, including page numbers (if relevant).
  • Make clear in your own notes where you have copied a quote word for word from your source, so that when you come to write up your notes you know which parts are in your own words, and which are in the words of your source.
  • Make clear in your own notes where you have taken an idea from your source.
  • Make sure that you have referenced your work in accordance with the referencing guide set out in your departmental handbook; remember referencing conventions do vary between disciplines.

6.6.2 Case study

The following case study is not intended to be comprehensive but rather to give you an idea of the principles behind when you should include a reference to your reading if you wish to avoid accusations of inadvertent plagiarism…. NOTE: different disciplines within the College use different referencing conventions, and the way these particular references are set out should not be taken as authoritative. The case study is based on the following text:

The collective commemoration of a local saint helped to define a community’s identity. At Lindisfarne, for example, the monastery became identified with its most venerated figure, Cuthbert, although he had played no part in the monastery’s foundation. Despite the fact that the monastery was dedicated to St Peter, by 793 Alcuin was already describing the monastery as the community of St Cuthbert, and when, in the ninth century, the community was forced by Viking raids to move from its island site, its continuing identity was ensured by Cuthbert’s remains which the brothers had taken with them.

(C. Cubitt, ‘Universal and Local Saints in Anglo-Saxon England’, in A. Thacker and R. Sharpe, eds, Local Saints and Local Churches in the Early Medieval West (Oxford, 2002), 423-454 at p. 437.

Guide 1:

  • The collective commemoration of a local saint helped to define a community’s identity. At Lindisfarne, for example, the monastery became identified with its most venerated figure, Cuthbert, although he had played no part in the monastery's foundation.

 Do not include a direct quote from your source in your text without due acknowledgment. If you include these words in your essay without acknowledgement to the source, this is plagiarism.

  • The collective commemoration of a local saint helped to define a community’s identity. At Lindisfarne, for example, the monastery became identified with its most venerated figure, Cuthbert, although he had played no part in the monastery’s foundation.1

1 C. Cubitt, ‘Universal and Local Saints in Anglo-Saxon England’, in A. Thacker and R. Sharpe, eds, Local Saints and Local Churches in the Early Medieval West (Oxford, 2002), 423-454 at p. 437.

Although you have referenced Cubitt’s work, this is still plagiarism as you have not made it clear that the words are not your own.

  • ‘The collective commemoration of a local saint helped to define a community’s identity. At Lindisfarne, for example, the monastery became identified with its most venerated figure, Cuthbert, although he had played no part in the monastery’s foundation.1

1 C. Cubitt, ‘Universal and Local Saints in Anglo-Saxon England’, in A. Thacker and R. Sharpe, eds, Local Saints and Local Churches in the Early Medieval West (Oxford, 2002), 423-454 at p. 437.

This is not plagiarism, as you have made it clear that the words you are using are not your own by putting them in quotation marks. (If, however, your work is made up of extensive quotations it will be severely marked as it will lack originality).

Guide 2:

  • The cult of local saints often helped to shape the self-identities of monastic communities in the early medieval period.

Do not include an idea taken from someone else in your own work without acknowledging its source. This is plagiarism as you have not made it clear that the idea is not your own.

  • 'As Catherine Cubitt has observed, the cult of local saints often helped to shape the self-identities of monastic communities in the early medieval period.1'

1 C. Cubitt, ‘Universal and Local Saints in Anglo-Saxon England’, in A. Thacker and R. Sharpe, eds, Local Saints and Local Churches in the Early Medieval West (Oxford, 2002), 423-454 at p. 437.

 

This is not plagiarism as you have made it clear that the idea is not yours.

  • 'The cult of local saints often helped to shape the self-identities of monastic communities in the early medieval period.1'

1 C. Cubitt, ‘Universal and Local Saints in Anglo-Saxon England’, in A. Thacker and R. Sharpe, eds, Local Saints and Local Churches in the Early Medieval West (Oxford, 2002), 423-454 at p. 437.

This is not plagiarism as you have made it clear that the idea is not yours.

Guide 3:

  •  'A monastic community’s identity was often defined by the collective commemoration of a local saint. For example, at Lindisfarne the monastery was soon identified with its most famous member, Cuthbert, despite the fact that he was not involved in the monastery’s foundation. Although the monastery was dedicated to St Peter as early as 793 Alcuin was already describing the monastery as the community of St Cuthbert.1'

1 C. Cubitt, ‘Universal and Local Saints in Anglo-Saxon England’, in A. Thacker and R. Sharpe, eds, Local Saints and Local Churches in the Early Medieval West (Oxford, 2002), 423-454 at p. 437.

 Do not base your work on the ideas and structure of one or more pieces of work without acknowledgement. This is plagiarism under definition 4.3.1 e (iii) ­ large sections of the text are direct quotes, and the overall structure and point being made are identical to those of the author.

  • 'The cult of local saints often helped to shape the self-identities of monastic communities in the early medieval period.1 It seems that monks at the time were aware of the authority which possession of saints’ relics might bring to their house. The monks of Sainte Foy at Conques in south-western France, for example, went so far as to steal the relics of Sainte Foy from the church of Agen in 866. In time, however, Sainte Foy became associated with the monastic community at Conques, and, as demonstrated by the Miracle Book of Sainte Foy, composed in the early eleventh century, her cult had become embedded in the local area, and had come to define the monastic community at Conques.2'

1 C. Cubitt, ‘Universal and Local Saints in Anglo-Saxon England’, in A. Thacker and R. Sharpe, eds, Local Saints and Local Churches in the Early Medieval West (Oxford, 2002), 423-454 at p. 437.

2 P. Sheingorn, The Book of Sainte Foy (Philadelphia, 1995), pp. 6-13.

This is not defined as plagiarism, as the sources for your points are referenced but the words of the authors of these sources have not been used, and you have not adapted the passage wholesale from one author, but rather based your argument on your wider reading.

6.6.3 If you are still worried...

If you are still worried, then you can check with your personal tutor or your module tutor who will be able to tell you if you are correctly referencing your work, or advise you on how to improve.

If you think you still need help with your study skills, you should make an appointment to see a Study Skills Counsellor who will be able to help you improve your study skills, both for note taking and writing assessed work. See the Student Study Skills web site for further information about what they offer and how to book an appointment with a Study Skills counsellor.

6.6.4 What happens if I am suspected of cheating (including plagiarism)?

The following outline sets out the way your case will be investigated within the College, in line with University Policy.

  • STEP 1: Your module tutor will identify and document suspected plagiarism in your submitted work. A number of electronic tools are available at their disposal, as at most Universities.
  • STEP 2: Your module tutor will report suspected plagiarism and pass all documentation prepared to the Assistant College Manager (Education).
  • STEP 3: The Assistant College Manager (Education) will ensure that suspected plagiarism is notified to all tutors in receipt of your work, so that it may be double checked for elements of plagiarism. All module tutors will report back their findings to a specified deadline.
  • STEP 4: The Assistant College Manager (Education) will notify the student of the investigation. The letter will invite the student to a formal meeting with a panel of College Misconduct Officers to consider the case. As per the TQA Manual 12.17.3, the student is entiled to / may be accompanied by a person who should normally be a member of the University such as a staff member, a member of the Students Guild or FXU, or another student. If a penalty is to be applied, then within five days of this meeting, the student will receive a second letter notifying the student of the penalty imposed (a copy of this letter will be sent to the Dean of Taught Faculty).

In certain cases (e.g. formative work) a warning may be issued, or in specific serious circumstances where a College penalty is inappropriate, the matter may be referred directly to the Dean of Taught Faculty for further action.

The Academic Misconduct Panel will consider your case against a standard five-step set of criteria against which all cases for plagiarism/cheating are assessed. That is:

  • Extent: How much plagiarism is contained in the work? How egregious?
  • Level of Study: This links to the first criteria but does not override it. A lot of cheating at level one can be as serious as a little at level three.
  • Previous Experience: Is there evidence of a previous offence?
  • Rules of the Discipline: Have specific disciplinary guidelines been breached?
  • A final fairness check: What are the consequences for the student? Is there any evidence of intent?

The penalties for plagiarism are also standardised and are listed below.

  • The candidate will be formally reprimanded and the mark in the assessment set at zero. The candidate will required to re-sit the assessment or re-submit the assessment without a cap on the mark.
  • The candidate will be formally reprimanded and the mark in the assessment set at zero. The candidate will required to re-sit the assessment or re-submit the assessment but the mark will be capped at the pass mark.
  • The candidate will be formally reprimanded and a mark of zero is recorded for the assessment in question. No re-sit or resubmission will be permitted.

The Dean of College may also refer the case to the Faculty Office if none of the above sanctions appears appropriate. The Dean of College shall write to the student to indicate this.

The College records all investigations and findings of plagiarism in a database and is required to report this in an institutional return annually.

Serious cases of academic misconduct or repeat offences will be dealt with by the Dean of Taught Programmes.

ELE

For more information about plagiarism please see the Undergraduate Skills page in ELE.