Skip to Content

Academic misconduct

Academic misconduct is a form of fraud and intellectual theft, and is a serious breach of academic integrity.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the action or practice of taking and submitting or presenting the thoughts, writing or other work of someone else as though it is your own work. Plagiarism includes any of the following, without full and appropriate acknowledgement to the original source(s):

  • the use of the whole or part of a computer program written by another person
  • the use in essays or other assessable work, of the whole or part of a written work from any source including, but not limited to a book, journal, newspaper article, set of lecture notes, current or past student’s work, any other person’s work, a website or database
  • the paraphrasing of another’s work
  • the use of musical composition, audio, visual, graphic or photographic work created by another person
  • the use of realia. That is, objects, insignia, artefacts, costumes, models and the like.

It is also plagiarism if you submit or present work as your own, which has been prepared with another person. This remains plagiarism even if it is with the knowledge or consent of the other person or people.

Examples of plagiarism

The following are examples of plagiarism where appropriate acknowledgement or referencing of the author or source does not occur:

  • Copying directly 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 (eg, another student, a tutor)
  • Submitting, as one's own, all or part of another student's original work

Group work

Plagiarism, collusion and cheating in group work are forms of academic misconduct and can occur 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
  • Contributes less, little, or nothing to a group assignment and then claims an equal share of the work or marks
  • Discusses with other members of the group how to approach a common assessment item that requires individual submissions 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.


Plagiarism and other forms of academic misconduct

Using other students’ work (Individual assignments)

It is plagiarism when students use the ideas, words or work of other students and submit these in an assessment task as their own. For example:

  • handing in an individual assignment that was written in part or whole by another student, past or current; or
  • using the same resources, quotes, paraphrases, summaries, notes, and ideas as another student; or
  • asking or paying a ‘tutor’, friend or some other person to write the assignment

Using other people’s published work (Individual assignments)

Students plagiarise or cheat when using words, ideas or work from published sources and submit these as their own. This can include material taken from the following sources without acknowledgment:

  • the internet, a book, chapter, article, database, pamphlet, brochure or any other source.

It is also considered plagiarism when students include material in their work without letting the reader know where it came from.

Not contributing fairly to group work

Gaining an unfair advantage occurs when a student claims an equal share of the marks but:

  • contributes less than an equal share of the assignment than their student colleagues;
  • does not turn up to group meetings and/or contribute in group meetings;
  • does not undertake their share of the work with the appropriate level of care and attention; or
  • does not complete their section.

Cheating in exams/tests

Cheating in exams or tests includes:

  • copying from other students;
  • taking unauthorised or inappropriate aids or materials into an exam;
  • accessing internet files in practical computing and other exams;
  • writing notes in dictionaries and other allowed/authorised texts
    (sometimes in another language to avoid detection);
  • stealing a copy of an exam prior to sitting for it;
  • letting someone else sit an exam for you;
  • using communication signals with another student, including hand signals;
  • borrowing or lending equipment or material between students.


It is also academic misconduct if a student:

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


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 about requirements for referencing or refer to:


What happens when academic misconduct is suspected?

Cheating in exams

When apparent cheating is observed in an examination room the student will be permitted to finish the exam paper, although any material which is believed to be unauthorised will be confiscated as soon as it is detected.

A student may be refused entry to or expelled from the examination room if they fail to give the examination supervisor something which the supervisor believes may be unauthorised, or which the supervisor has confiscated or attempted to confiscate.

Any apparent cheating during an examination will be formally reported to the Examination Officer, who will record the incident and send a warning letter or initiate an investigation.

Investigations are overseen by a responsible staff member of your school or faculty. If the investigation reveals reasonable evidence that a student has engaged in academic misconduct, the penalties are severe and can include cancellation of results and exclusion from your course.

Plagiarism in assignments

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 (academic misconduct) is found, you will be notified within 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, regulations 10.2 and 10.3.

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.


Consequences of academic misconduct

What are the penalties?

The penalties for academic misconduct are severe. Penalties can include cancellation of results and exclusion from your course.. Possible sanctions for academic misconduct are detailed in the Student Academic Misconduct Regulations 2012, regulations 10.2 and 10.3.

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.

Student advocacy and procedural rights

If an allegation of involvement in academic misconduct is made against you, there are a number of available services and qualified people on campus who can assist with questions you may have about the academic misconduct process or any other concerns.

  • Advice and Advocacy
    The Swinburne Student Amenities Association (SSAA) has professional and experienced staff to provide help for a range of academic, administrative and personal issues.
  • Student Services
    Student services provides support for student health and wellbeing, counselling, disability, equity, finance and more.
  • International Student Advisers
    If you are an international student, meet with a student adviser to help you with academic and personal needs.
  • Complaints, reviews and appeals
    If you are not satisfied with the outcome of a decision relating to academic misconduct, you may lodge a complaint.