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Academic Misconduct - Guidance for Students


 

 

 

We understand that receiving an allegation of academic misconduct can be worrying.  On these pages you will find the information you need to understand the allegation and the academic misconduct process.  You will also find sources of wellbeing and academic support.

 

 

Please note: Academic Misconduct Panels will continue to take place via video (MS TEAMS) for the foreseeable future.  If you receive an invitation to attend a panel meeting, you will be given details of your options and the support available to you.

 

Quick links

Access the Regulations on Academic Misconduct:

Find out more about sources of academic support .

If you have any queries, please contact the Academic Investigations Team

For support regarding a specfic case, please contact the Student's Union Advice Centre

Academic Misconduct Procedure

Flowchart of the academic misconduct procedure.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

Academic Misconduct:

What is Academic Misconduct?

Academic misconduct is anything which is against the rules which govern the assessment of work, and includes things like plagiarism, commissioning and collusion. There are definitions of all these words in the Regulations on Academic Misconduct which you can find on the College web-site and you will also be sent a copy or a link.  

The most common types of academic misconduct are:

Plagiarism:  This is the presentation of another's work as your own, whether intentional or otherwise.  Any work identified as coming from an unattributed source will be classified as plagiarism

Collusion:  Working with another student to produce work, in order to obtain an advantage for either or both students

Commissioning:   Requesting another person to write or re-write work in order to obtain an unfair advantage.  At the most serious end of the scale this offence includes paying an individual or company to produce work for you to submit as your own.  However, payment need not be involved and it can also include the situation where you have asked someone (such as a friend, family member or former teacher) to help you write work which you submit for assessment.

Duplication:  You can only submit the same work for assessment once.  If you do so again, whether it is for the same or another course, this may be considered as duplication.

Why is my work being investigated?

The College has a reputation for academic integrity and we must take allegations of academic misconduct seriously. The College has to investigate when there’s a suggestion of misconduct, but there is advice, guidance and support available to you at each stage of the process.

How do I know what is being investigated?

If you haven’t already you will soon receive a link which will give you access to a number of documents which explain the allegation.  You will also be provided with the evidence upon which the allegation is based (usually the Turnitin report). This link will be sent to your College email address only as we are not currently posting any hard copy letters. Read this information carefully as it will show you where things may have gone wrong, which is what you will be asked about in the meeting.

Is there any advice or support available?

The Students’ Union Advice Centre have advisors who are specially trained and, if you want them to, will attend the meeting with you.  They can’t speak on your behalf, but can help you work out what to say beforehand, and give moral support at the meeting.  Their contact details are below.

Your personal tutor and other academic staff are always available to discuss the principles of academic integrity, and how to avoid future allegations.  However, they will not be able to discuss the specific circumstances of a case while it is the subject of an academic misconduct panel.

 

How is Academic misconduct dealt with at Royal Holloway?

The Regulations on Academic Misconduct set out the procedure for dealing with academic misconduct. One of the things markers look out for when marking your work is any signs that suggest the work may not be entirely your own.  If they notice anything which may be suggestive of academic misconduct they will submit a ‘Request to investigate’.

Every Department has an Academic Misconduct Panel and the Chair of the Panel will be asked to review the allegation and decide how to proceed.  If they decide that the work displays poor academic practice, but that it is confined to a small section of the assessment, they may decide that there is no evidence of misconduct and the case will not be taken any further (although the poor practice will be reflected in your mark).

If the Chair decides that the work shows clear evidence of plagiarism, for example a lack of correct referencing or poorly paraphrased sections, they may decide that an offence has occurred, but that it is relatively low level, and does not warrant a meeting with the Academic Misconduct Panel.  The Chair has the authority to decide to impose a penalty at this stage, without requiring a meeting. 

However, if the Chair of the Panel decides that a serious offence has occurred, or more investigation is needed, they will ask for an academic misconduct panel to be arranged.

We will notify you of the decision as soon as we can, and give clear information and instructions about what happens next.

How can I find out more about how to avoid academic misconduct?

There is plenty of support available and it is very important that you ensure that you understand how to avoid academic misconduct.  The College has a dedicated Moodle module entitled ‘Avoiding Academic Misconduct’ which every student is expected to complete.  In addition, support is available from your tutors, the Library and CeDAS.  More information is available here.

 

Academic Misconduct Penalty applied by the Chair of the Panel:

What is the ‘Paper’ academic misconduct process?

There is now an option for the Chair of the Department Academic Misconduct Panel to decide that a student’s work demonstrates clear evidence of academic misconduct, but that it is at a relatively low level and does not require an academic misconduct panel meeting.  The Chair may decide to impose a penalty and if this is the case for your work, you will be given plenty of information so that you can decide how you would like to proceed

How has the Chair decided which penalty is appropriate?

You will recieve a letter which explains the Chair’s reasoning for their decision and the penalty that has been deemed to be appropriate for your case and level of offence.

Most cases which are suitable for this process will receive a penalty at the lower end of the spectrum, typically a deduction of 10% from the provisional mark, or a cap at the pass mark. However, the Chair will consider your provisional mark when determining the penalty. If your mark is below the pass mark, then obviously a cap at the pass mark cannot be applied. In these circumstances the Chair will probably decide to impose a mark of zero for the assessment to reflect the fact that your work has not satisfied the requirements to pass, and additionally to penalise for academic misconduct.

Do I have to accept the penalty?

No, you do not, you can opt instead to meet with the Academic Misconduct Panel. You have 10 working days in which to consider the documents provided and decide what to do. You are advised to read these through carefully as they will outline the allegation and evidence provided by the marker, as well as the reason why you have been offered this option.

If you reject the penalty offered to you, you will be invited to attend an Academic Misconduct Panel meeting which you will be expected to attend. The meeting will be your opportunity to contest the allegation made by the marker or to explain to the Chair of the panel why you believe that the penalty imposed is too severe. You may also disclose any mitigating circumstances which affected you at the time of the offence.

However, before you consider this option, you should think carefully about how you will address the issues raised by the marker, bearing in mind that plagiarism is an absolute, i.e., it has either occurred or it has not. It is not necessary for there to be evidence of intent to commit academic misconduct for it to be proven, and accidental or unintended plagiarism is nevertheless academic misconduct.

Before reaching a decision we strongly recommend that you review the information and guidance available on the Student Intranet, and consider seeking the advice of the Students Union Advice Centre who can help you to consider the evidence and the options available to you.

What if I would like the Chair to consider additional information?

An academic misconduct panel meeting will be arranged so that this information can be properly considered by the Panel. Similarly, if you have mitigating circumstances which you ask to be considered, a panel meeting will be arranged.

 

I’ve had a letter about academic misconduct – what happens next?

Academic Misconduct Panel meeting has been arranged:

When will the academic misconduct panel meeting take place?

The Academic Investigations team will arrange a date for your meeting to take place.  Don’t worry, they will take into account your timetable so you won’t miss any teaching and you will have at least seven days’ notice.  We will try to arrange the meeting to take place as soon as possible as we know that this is an anxious time for you.  However, the date of the meeting will be affected by matters beyond our control such as the panel members' availability and vacation/examination periods (which we will avoid).  

What if I can't attend the meeting?

You are expected to attend the panel meeting, and it is particularly important that you do so if the allegation against you is commissioning or collusion.  However, if you can’t attend, and have a good reason for this, please let the Academic Investigations team know and they will try and rearrange the meeting, although it’s not always possible.  You may be asked to provide evidence of the reason why you cannot attend.

If you can’t attend the meeting, you can write to the panel and set out any information or documents you want them to take into account.  We have produced a written response guide which will be sent to you once you indicate that you will not be attending the meeting.

What if I have mitigating circumstances?

You should let the panel know if there were particular circumstances which affected you while you were working on the coursework in question. If the panel decide that your work shows evidence of academic misconduct, your circumstances will not excuse this but, as long as you provide satisfactory evidence, the panel can take your situation into account when deciding which penalty to apply.  

Can anyone attend the meeting with me?

The Student Union Advisors are able to attend the meeting with you.  If you prefer, you can bring a friend or supporter with you.  They must be a member of the College (student or staff) and again they can’t speak for you, but can provide support and help you make sure you say everything that you want to at the meeting.

On the day of the meeting

On the day of the meeting, we suggest you arrive a few minutes early so that you can be calm and prepared when it starts.  If you have any questions beforehand, you can always email the Academic Investigations team who are happy to help, or the Students’ Union advisors if it’s about the details of your case.

What can I expect?

Although academic misconduct allegations are taken seriously, the meeting will be quite informal and the panel will try and make it as comfortable as possible for you.  Remember, you can ask a Students Union Advisor or a friend who is also a student to accompany you if you want. There will be 3 people from the College in your meeting: a senior academic from your school or department (they will chair the meeting), another academic and someone from the Academic Investigations team who will be taking notes.   The academic members of staff will be the ones asking questions and who will make the decision about whether misconduct is proven.

What is the purpose of the meeting?

The purpose of the meeting is to make sure you understand the allegation, and to give you the chance to explain what has happened.  It can also be a useful opportunity for you to understand more about what constitutes good (and bad) academic practice.  We recommend that all students undertake the Avoiding Plagiarism module on Moodle.

What will I be asked at the meeting?

At the beginning of the meeting you will be asked whether you understand the allegation, whether you have attended induction lectures about academic misconduct and completed the ‘Avoiding Plagiarism’ Moodle course. Depending on the type of allegation, you will also be asked questions about how you approached your work and whether anyone helped you. You will also be given the chance to ask any questions you have. At the end of the meeting the Chair of the panel will summarise the options and potential penalties.  

What happens next?

Once you have left, the panel has two decisions to make: firstly, is academic misconduct proven on the balance of probabilities (in other words, is it more likely than not to have occurred?); and secondly, if so, what penalty should they impose.  

What is the penalty for academic misconduct?

If the panel find that misconduct has occurred, there are a range of penalties they can impose, from a deduction of 10% from the mark, to failure of the entire module.  The panel’s decision will depend on things like the seriousness of the misconduct, your level of study and, whether there was any obvious intention to cheat.  They will take all these factors into account, as well as any individual circumstances you have disclosed. 

As a guide, typically a first offence of significant, clear plagiarism or duplication will mean that you are given a zero grade for the assignment.  If the panel decides that the plagiarism is not extensive and/or that it was unintentional, you may get a more lenient penalty of a deduction of 10%, or your mark may be capped at the pass mark.  If it is a second offence your case will be referred to a Senior Vice-Principal to make a decision.

When will I find out the outcome?

As soon as possible after the meeting, the Academic Investigations team will send you a note summarising the meeting, and you will be asked if you have any comments.  Once you have replied you will receive a letter explaining the panel’s decision, the reason for it and the penalty, if any.  If you have any questions about what this means for you, you can contact your school helpdesk or your Personal Tutor.

What if the penalty means that I fail the course?

Even if the penalty decided in your case means that you will fail the module, try not to worry: as long as this is your first attempt at the module you will get another chance to resit the course during the summer, although your mark will be capped at the pass mark.

What happens at the academic misconduct panel meeting

Sources of Academic Support:

We appreciate that an allegation of academic misconduct can cause a lot of anxiety, and encourage you to look at the following for further information and guidance:

Your Personal Tutor

We recommend that you contact your Personal Tutor as soon as you receive an allegation of misconduct. Your tutor will help you to consider the allegation and what this means for you. They will also be able to provide advice as to how to avoid any repeat offences.

The allegation is raised by the marker of your assessment and as such, they will be unable to discuss the details of the allegation with you.The marker will not be involved in the decision on your case and you should therefore not approach them to contest the allegation or to try and influence the outcome of the investigation.

If you do not know the details for your assigned personal tutor, or are unable to contact them, please report this to your School Helpdesk.

'Avoiding Plagiarism' (Moodle Training)

The Avoiding Plagiarism course is available to all students and can be found on Moodle. Just enter Avoiding Plagiarism in the search bar to locate the pages.

This is a comprehensive course which will explain to you what good academic practice is and how you ensure that you meet these requirements. There is a comprehensive section on academic referencing and why this is important.

There is a short quiz at the end of the course to assess your understanding of the topic which we recommend that you take. The mark is not recorded and there are no consequences if you do not pass the test. You are able to take the test as many times as you need to.

The Library

The College Library offers a range of support for students to address their learning and understanding of referencing:

  • 1:1 support - Each school has a specialist librarian to help you find resources for assignments, as well as help you reference them accurately. If you would like 1-to-1 support, then you can book personal appointments with Information Consultants that specialise in your subject. The support offered to you is personal, and your 1-to-1 will be tailored to your needs.
  • Referencing support and activities on the Library Space Moodle page.
  • Webinars on Referencing located on the Library Space Moodle page.

The Centre for the Development of Academic Skills (CeDAS)

CeDAS provides a range of services that can support students. They offer group sessions, 1:1 tutorials, drop-ins and resources tailored to studying in your subject area. These activities, delivered both online and in-person, address key aspects of academic writing and communication, maths, stats, numeracy, and studying independently.

CeDAS will also support you in obtaining a College recommended proof-reader, should this be required for your dissertation.

College Regulations

The College's Regulations are accessible to all students through the student intranet. The Regulations outline the rules and requirements which the College, and its students, are required to adhere to. You will be provided with a copy of the Regulations on Academic Misconduct in your case file, however, to access the other Regulations, please visit these webpages.

  

Personal and Wellbeing Support:

We encourage all students who recieve an allegation of academic misconduct to contact any of the teams listed below for support throughout the process:

 

The RHUL Student’s Union (SU) Advice Centre

The Student's Union Advice Centre is a free and independent, student run service that will provide you with specific advice and guidance about your case. They can also provide support for you at the meeting.

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College Wellbeing Service

The College Wellbeing Service provides a range of services to help you manage your wellbeing. The team will enable you to get the right help from the most appropriate person or team.

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Disability & Neurodiversity Team

The Disability & Neurodiversity Team support all students who have disclosed a disability, long standing medical condition, specific learning difficulty or mental health condition.

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