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Misconduct and plagiarism

Academic misconduct is a form of fraud and intellectual theft and is a serious breach of academic integrity Academic misconduct covers a range of possible activities, two of which are plagiarism and cheating.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the practice of submitting or presenting the ideas, writing or other work of someone else, in whole or in part, as though it is your own work. That is, without proper acknowledgement of the source(s).

The source of the work includes but is not limited to:

  • Other students – current or former.
  • A friend or tutor.
  • Anyone you have paid to produce the work.
  • A written work or part thereof (including a webpage, book, article, database, pamphlet, brochure, journal, newspaper, lecture notes, etc.).
  • A computer program or part thereof.
  • Musical composition, audio, visual, graphic or photographic work created by another person.
  • Realia. That is, objects, insignia, artefacts, costumes, models and the like.

Paraphrasing another person’s work without attribution is also plagiarism.

It is also plagiarism if you submit or present work as exclusively your own which has been prepared with another person without acknowledging the source, even if it is with the knowledge or consent of the other person/people.

Examples of plagiarism

  • Copying paragraphs, sentences, a single sentence or significant parts of a sentence. An end reference without quotation marks around the copied text may also constitute plagiarism.
  • Copying ideas, concepts, research results, statistical tables, computer programs, designs, images, sounds or text or any combination of these.
  • Paraphrasing of another's work closely, with minor changes but with the essential meaning, form and/or progression of ideas maintained.
  • Relying on a specific idea or interpretation that is not one's own without identifying whose idea or interpretation it is.
  • Cutting or pasting statements from multiple sources or piecing together work of others and representing them as original work.
  • Presenting as independent, work done in collaboration with other people (e.g. another student, a tutor).
  • Submitting as one's own, all or part of another student's original work.

Group work

Academic misconduct can also occur in group work as illustrated in the following examples.

Plagiarism, collusion and cheating when one or more students:

  • Copies (or allows to be copied) from other members of a group while working in the group.
  • Copies the original work, in whole or in part, of an individual who is not a member of the group, with or without the knowledge of other members of the group, and contributes the plagiarised work to a group assignment.
  • Discusses with other members of the group how to approach a common assessment item that requires individual submission and relies on the same or very similar approach in the submitted assessment, without any acknowledgement of collaboration with colleagues and without the permission of the assessor.

Gaining an unfair advantage when a student claims an equal share of the marks but has done one or more of the following:

  • Contributes less than an equal share to a group assignment and then claims an equal share of the work or marks.
  • Does not turn up to group meetings and/or does not contribute in group meetings.
  • Does not undertake their share of the work with the appropriate level of care and attention.
  • Does not complete their section.

How to avoid plagiarism

Sometimes a student might accidentally plagiarise. This is usually the result of a lack of academic writing skills, inexperience, sloppy note taking, or a combination of these. It is important that you learn and follow the practice established for citation of written works for your subject.

Make sure your work clearly distinguishes between the ideas of others and your own ideas. If you’re not sure how to do this, check with your course staff. The following resources might also be useful.

Learning and Academic Skills Centre
Make an appointment with a Learning Adviser.

Avoiding plagiarism and cheating
A detailed guide for higher education students at Swinburne University.

Plagiarism and copyright
A short, straightforward explanation about how plagiarising and breaching copyright differ.

Minimising plagiarism
Advice and resources from the Centre for the Study of Higher Education (CSHE) to educate students and academics about plagiarism and academic expectations.

Checklist for avoiding plagiarism
Downloadable checklist to help you prevent plagiarism in your work.

Cheating in exams

For a definition of what constitutes cheating in exams see exams page.

Other forms of misconduct

It is also academic misconduct if a student:

  • Fails to comply with examination or assessment rules or directions.
  • Engages in other conduct with a view to gaining unfair or unjustified advantage.
  • Commits research misconduct.

Penalties for misconduct

Individual assignments

If an alleged assessment irregularity is detected in your work, you will receive an email advising you of this and asking you to attend a meeting with your Unit Convenor/ teacher in the presence of an observer. Following this, an investigation will be conducted and a report written. If you have a previous record of plagiarism this will be noted.

Where plagiarism is found, you will be notified within five (5) working days of the decision. The penalties can include charges of academic misconduct, cancellation of results and exclusion from your course. Possible sanctions for academic misconduct are detailed in the Student Academic Misconduct Regulations 2012.

Group assignments

If it has been confirmed that a student has not contributed equally to a group assignment, the Unit Convenor/teacher may modify the marks for that student to reflect their individual contribution. If any marks are to be modified, this process will be clearly communicated in advance, together with information to show how individual marks are calculated.

Cheating in exams see exams page.