What is academic misconduct and how can you avoid it? Is using AI software misconduct? Read on to find out more about the university's policies.
What is it?
Academic misconduct, also known as plagiarism, is the act of attempting to pass off the ideas or work of another, as your own. This can apply to direct quotations (using the exact phrasing/ wording as someone else), or paraphrasing (using different words to express the same ideas as someone else).
Most often, we think of plagiarism as using the idea from an academic source without properly citing the original author. It can however apply to the use of work from any other author without acknowledgement of the source including yours and your peers’ work. This means, you cannot reuse previously submitted essays, assignments from others on your course, paid-for essay wriiting services or from AI/essay writing software. In all the above cases, you are using content from other sources and presenting it as your own, original work and therefore, are plagiarising. You are also not allowed to work together with other students on your course on assignments that are meant to be your own, individual work. This is called "collusion" and is a form of academic misconduct.
The university are aware that AI/essay writing software is being used by some students for assignments. They will try and identify when AI software, such as ChatGPT, has been used by a student, and this could be flagged as assessment misconduct.
Academic misconduct can also apply to cheating in exams and other assessments. If there are rules/ conditions of undertaking assessment and these are not adhered to, that is academic misconduct. For example, taking unauthorised notes into a closed book exam would constitute as academic misconduct.
To see the Universities’ policy on academic misconduct, you can view the taught programme procedure.
How do I avoid it?
To ensure that you do not commit plagiarism, it is essential that you cite the sources of information that you use. To do this, you must use the referencing system set out by your School. This can range from Harvard Referencing through to the Chicago Referencing system. Each require different formatting and information of the source to be included in text (citation) and a list of full sources used (bibliography). It is important that you familiarise yourself with the standard of each and cite each source that you use.
The Academic skills team offer support on different styles of referencing. If you are unsure, you can make use of the resources there.
There are also various online tools designed to help with referencing from guides through to reference builders. The Library team recommend using Cite Them Right, and you can find a guides on how to use this website here and here. These can be useful but remember, it is your responsibility to double check that they are correct and placed appropriately throughout your assignment.
If you are unsure what is expected of you, speak to your course leader or personal tutor. They can help you to understand the rules of the assessment to ensure that you do not commit academic misconduct.
What are the consequences?
Academic misconduct can result in a review meeting and in the case of repeat offences, a misconduct panel and withdrawal from studies. It is therefore very important that you familiarise yourself with the referencing style used by your School and misconduct policy. If you are unsure, ask for help.
1. How do I know if I have plagiarised?
The University use Turnitin, plagiarism detective software which checks the originality of submitted work. Turnitin compares submitted work with its database of online content and other University’s essays to produce an originality score. You can use this score to assess if your work has been improperly cited.
2. Can I accidentally plagiarise?
Not as long as you cite the sources of your work. There will always be similar phrases used across assignments but if you have acknowledged where those ideas originated from, you are not plagiarising.
3. How do I know which referencing style I need?
Speak to your school if you are unsure. However, you will usually find the style used in Module guides and on Moodle.