Student Academic Conduct

When you enrol you agree to abide by the University’s regulations. This includes Regulation D.4 Student Academic Misconduct and the accompanying Code of Practice on Academic Misconduct. Academic misconduct is doing something that could give you an unfair advantage in an assessment.  It includes, but is not limited to, the following: plagiarism; collusion; commissioning of work; cheating in an examination; falsification of data or sources; falsification of official documents or signatures.

The University treats academic misconduct very seriously and penalties will be given for proven cases, including permanent exclusion from the University for very serious or repeat offences. It is therefore very important that you understand how to prepare and take assessments honestly. In order to assist you with this there are various resources and help available both as part of your programme of study (see School handbooks) and also centrally (see below for information).

Good Academic Practice – available help, online resources and guidance

How to improve your Study Skills

Information on Study Skills, which is run by the Student Support Centre, can be found here.

 

Help for International Students

If you are an International student, you can make an appointment to discuss your work with one the tutors in the Language Centre. Appointments can be booked online by clicking this link here, in person at the Language Centre office in CBB0.001, or by contacting the Language Centre administrators (enl@keele.ac.uk or telephone 01782 (7) 33103).

At the meeting, the tutor will go over the work with you and try to determine the nature of your problem.  This may often include one or more of the following:  unfamiliarity with academic writing conventions, inability to identify relevant information, or   linguistic weaknesses that inhibit appropriate paraphrasing.   Follow-up sessions will be scheduled on a one-to-one basis in order to inform, instruct and enable you to work through the difficulties you may have.

An interactive guide to plagiarism

StudyWrite: Plagiarism

The StudyWrite Plagiarism module explains the concept of plagiarism, why it is important and how it can be avoided.  It also provides a series of activities to check your understanding as the module progresses. The module can be accessed here.

An interactive guide to referencing

StudyWrite: Referencing 

StudyWrite referencing explains the importance of acknowledging the ideas of others whilst writing for academic study.  Based upon the Harvard system, the module demonstrates different types of referencing with interactive exercises. The module can be accessed here

An interactive guide to notetaking

StudyWrite: Notetaking

The StudyWrite Notetaking module explains how to take effective notes and begin planning assignments. The module can be accessed here.

Information on the use of Turnitin

Turnitin is a text matching system that the University uses to identify text within submitted assignments to other sources; this can highlight work which is not properly referenced and non-original content in the work submitted by students.  Further information for students can be accessed by clicking here.

 

Proofreading - a Guide for Students

The document Proofreading - A Guide for Students can be downloaded by clicking the link. If you decide that you would like someone to proofread your work or you wish to use a proofreading company it is very important that you read this guidance. Failure to follow this guidance, if you have your work proofread, could result in you being found guilty of academic misconduct due to you having unpermitted assistance.

       

Academic Misconduct

What Is Academic Misconduct?

Academic misconduct is any action or attempted action which may result in you gaining an unfair academic advantage in an assessment. As stated in the Code of Practice on Student Academic Misconduct academic misconduct includes, but is not limited, to the following:

  1. Plagiarism - you copy words or ideas from another person and present those words/ideas as your own in an assessment without properly acknowledging and citing the source(s).
  2. Self-plagiarism – you submit the same or almost identical work for more than one assessment without proper acknowledgement. (N.B. You will not be guilty of self-plagiarism if you are repeating a module and are given the same assignment).
  3. Collusion - where you prepare a piece of work with at least one other student, including work used for a piece of authorised collaborative group-work, and you present the work in whole or in part for assessment as if it were our own work.
  4. Commissioning - the commissioning and/or submission of work to be assessed which is not your own work and presenting it as if it were. Commissioning occurs when you obtain work for assessment that has been written, either in full or in part, by another person, where input from another person is not allowed. Money does not have to be exchanged in order for work to be ‘commissioned’.
  5. Giving another student a copy of all or part of your own work so that they can use it in the submission of an assignment.
  6. Writing part of, or all, of another student’s assignment.
  7. The falsification of data or sources.
  8. Falsification of official documents or signatures, where these are used for academic benefit.
  9. Attempting to manipulate an assessment to avoid academic misconduct being found.
  10. Research misconduct as defined by the Research Misconduct Procedure.
  11. Allowing someone else to write or make material changes to your work. Further details are in Section 6 of the Code of Practice.
  12. Having work translated from another language by another person or by using a translation service or software.
  13. Translating work written by someone else in another language and submitting it as your own work without properly acknowledging and citing the source(s).
  14. Gaining or trying to gain access to any assessment details, e.g. examination paper, before the release of the assessment details;
  15. Possession of unauthorised material and/or electronic devices in an examination or class test;
  16. Communicating or attempting to communicate with someone else, apart from an invigilator, during an examination or class test;
  17. Copying, or attempting to copy another student’s answers during an examination or class test;
  18. Continuing to write (or continuing to perform whatever task is being examined) after the end of the examination or class test;
  19. Allowing another person to impersonate yourself or impersonating another person in an examination, test or hearing.

Understanding Plagiarism

The most common type of academic misconduct is plagiarism. For an interactive guide to plagiarism, please use the Studywrite: Plagiarism module which can be accessed here.

Once you know how to acknowledge the sources you use in your writing for a module, you then write in your own words and present your work honestly to the University for assessment, you will not have a problem with plagiarism or collusion. But you should be aware of the University regulations so that you can be sure to avoid a problem.

Examination Conduct

You should ensure that you are fully aware of the examination regulations and procedures otherwise you may find that you are accused of academic misconduct.  Information on the examination procedures can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions section on the Examinations web pages.  These can be accessed by clicking here.

The University Policy on the Use of Calculators in Examinations can be accessed by clinking here

The Examination regulations can be accessed by clicking here.

Procedure for dealing with allegations of academic misconduct

Each School has an Academic Conduct Officer, and one or more Deputy Academic Conduct Officers, whose job it is to investigate cases of possible plagiarism or collusion or similar misconduct.  Academic Conduct Officers have the task of interpreting the regulations and making a decision in each case. 

If someone marking your work suspects some form of academic misconduct such as plagiarism they will pass it to the School Academic Conduct Officer who will investigate.  The Academic Conduct Officer or marker may use “plagiarism detection software” (e.g. Turnitin) that compares text with the Web, with electronic journals and books, and with other students' work from Keele and elsewhere. If there is a case to answer, the Academic Conduct Officer will write to you to invite you to an interview to discuss the problem, at a specific date and time. The marker will probably be present and notes will be kept. You have the right to be accompanied by a member of staff, a current student, a member of the ASK (Advice and Support at Keele) team, or an elected officer of the Keele University Students' Union or Keele Postgraduate Association, and to be represented by such a person in your absence. The University has the discretion to accept other supporters where this is deemed necessary. If you want to present information by way of explanation or mitigation, you must send it to the Academic Conduct Officer two days before the date set for an interview. The letter from the Academic Conduct Officer will explain the details. If you receive such a letter you should get advice from Advice & Support at Keele (ASK) in the Students’ Union.

If the marker or Academic Conduct Officer suspect that you have not written the work yourself, you will be invited to an interview where you will be asked to demonstrate that you inderstand the content of the work and show how you wrote it. Academic Conduct Officers can only make decision on first and second offences of plagiarism or collulsion and a apply a penalty. All other offences will be referred to the Academic Misconduct Committee (please see the section on the Academic Misconduct Commitee). The fixed penalties are listed below in the section on penalties. The Academic Conduct Officer can require a student found guilty to undertake some instruction in how to avoid plagiarism.

First minor offences of plagiarism or collusion are dealt with as mistakes due to poor understanding of academic writing. As “unacceptable work” it is not accepted and must be resubmitted as soon as possible with the problems fixed. This constitutes a first offence in the tariff, and is recorded centrally.

 A second offence  of plagiarism or collusion is one where a penalty under these regulations has already been applied and recorded before the submission date of the work in question. All offences are recorded centrally. The Academic Conduct Officer will keep the details of the case. Both central and Academic Conduct Officer records remain until the end of a student’s study at Keele, or longer if a School has advised the University that a professional body would require it. If the Academic Conduct Officer decision on a case is that no offence was committed, no record is kept.

After an Academic Conduct Officer has made a decision, you can appeal against it but only on grounds of procedural irregularity or of exceptional circumstances.  Details of the appeal process can be found here.

All third and subsequent offences of plagiarism or collusion are referred by the Academic Conduct Officer to the University Academic Misconduct Committee, which meets regularly. An Academic Conduct Officer may also elect to refer any case to the Committee, e.g. the student has presented exceptional circumstances which the Academic Conduct Officer believes should be taken into account; a particularly serious offence.

Academic Misconduct Committee

When it meets, the Academic Misconduct Committee consists of a senior academic member of staff as Chair, a member of academic staff from the Faculty in which the alleged offence has taken place but without prior involvement in the case, and a member of academic staff from another Faculty.  The Committee will consider the case and will then make a decision as to whether the case is proven and what the penalty will be.

The Academic Misconduct Committee deals with the following types of cases:

  • All allegations of academic misconduct in examinations or class tests;
  • All third and subsequent offences of alleged plagiarism;
  • Cases of alleged plagiarism where the Academic Conduct Officer is aware of a student’s exceptional circumstances and is of a view that they are relevant to the case (Academic Conduct Officers are not permitted to take exceptional circumstances into account when dealing with cases);
  • Alleged commissioning of work;
  • Falsification of data or sources;
  • Falsification of official document or signatures where these are submitted for academic benefit;
  • Major ethics offences;
  • First or second offences where the penalty is disproportionate to the fixed penalty that can be given by the Academic Conduct Officer;
  • Appeals against decisions made by Academic Conduct Officers.

You will be invited for interview with the Committee and sent a copy of all the paperwork the Panel will be considering. The School representative (usually the Academic Conduct Officer) or invigilator presents the case and you will then be interviewed. You have the right to be accompanied by a member of staff, a current student, a member of the ASK (Advice and Support at Keele) team, or an elected officer of the Keele University Students' Union or Keele Postgraduate Association, and to be represented by such a person in your absence. The University has the discretion to accept other supporters where this is deemed necessary. You are strongly advised that it would be in your best interests to seek the advice and representation of Advice & Support at Keele (ASK) in the Students’ Union.  The Committee will then make a decision as to whether the case is proven and decide what the penalty will be (please see the section titled What are the penalties for academic misconduct?).

If you are a student studying at an overseas collaborative college, you will not be required to attend Keele in person.  Videoconferencing with the Keele University Academic Misconduct Committee will be arranged.

After you have received formal notification of the Committee's decision, you can appeal against it but only on grounds of procedural irregularity or of exceptional circumstances.  Details of the appeal process can be found here.

Standard and Burden of Proof

It is the University’s responsibility (Academic Conduct Officer or the Academic Misconduct Committee) to prove an allegation of academic misconduct. When deciding if you have committed academic misconduct, the University has to be confident, on the basis of the available evidence, that it is ‘more likely than not’ that misconduct has occurred. This is called proof on ‘the balance of probabilities’.  The University will assess the probabilities on the understanding that the more serious the allegation, the stronger the evidence must be before the University concludes that the allegation is established on the balance of probability.

What are the penalties for academic misconduct?

If you are registered on a programme of study that is subject to Regulation B.5: Fitness to Practise, any alleged or proven academic misconduct will be disclosed without prejudice to the Head of School so that any implications regarding fitness to practise may be considered. 

The following table lists the recommended penalties that will be given by either the Academic Conduct Officer or the Academic Misconduct Committee for proven offences. Academic Misconduct Officers are only permitted to issue penalties 1-6. If the Academic Conduct Officer decides the case warrants a lesser (e.g. due to exceptional circumstances or procedural irregularity) or more serious penalty (e.g. suspected commissioning) then the case must be referred to the Academic Misconduct Committee for consideration.

The Committee can impose any of the penalties set out in the table but is not restricted to these and can impose another penalty provided this is appropriate and proportionate. The Committee will consider the standard penalty and will decide if it is appropriate taking into account the following:

  • The academic level of the student;
  • Extent of the plagiarism (minor/major);
  • Previous academic misconduct history of the student;
  • Exceptional circumstances; (The Committee will normally only take extenuating circumstance into account if appropriate supporting evidence has been provided. Where the Committee agree that the exceptional circumstances disclosed by a student are relevant, the penalty may be varied but the offence will remain on the student’s record.)
  • Any procedural irregularities;
  • Evidence of any intention to deceive;
  • Nature of the work.

 

In practice, this means that the given penalty can be less or more severe, at the discretion of the Committee.

 

Type of offence

Recommended Penalty
1

Low-level poor academic practice (no previous offences).

Issue of a warning.
2

A first instance of giving another student a copy of all or part of one’s own work which results in poor academic practice or academic misconduct.

Further offences of this nature will be treated as first major offences.

Issue of a warning.
3

First minor offence of plagiarism or collusion (taught and research degrees).

The original mark, if any, is held back until an acceptable version is submitted. (Not reassessment - see below). The final mark will be capped at the pass mark.  The student must take appropriate instruction and practice in academic writing.(The work must be re-drafted to either receive a capped mark or a fail mark. If the student makes no attempt to re-draft the work, a mark of 0 will be awarded for the assignment. If the student resubmits the work and it is still not acceptable, the student will be given a final opportunity to resubmit the work in an acceptable format and will be warned that if they submit a further unacceptable version they will receive a mark of 0 for the assignment.)
4

First major offence of plagiarism or collusion (in taught and research degrees apart from research degree thesis or published work).

The issue of a written warning for academic misconduct plus allocation of a mark of zero for the assessment unit in question and with the normal consequences, if any, for reassessment. 
5

Second minor offence of plagiarism or collusion (in taught and research degrees apart from research degree thesis or published work).

The issue of a written warning for academic misconduct plus allocation of a mark of zero for the assessment unit in question and with the normal consequences, if any, for reassessment.
6

Second major offence of plagiarism or collusion (in taught and research degrees apart from research degree thesis or published work).

The issue of a written warning for academic misconduct plus allocation of a mark of zero for the module in question and with the normal consequences, if any, for reassessment.  This means that all the assessment components for the module will be set to zero and if reassessment is allowed the student will have to take reassessment of all the module components again.   For modules of 30 credits or more, where allocating a mark of zero for all assessment components would be disproportionate, the Academic Conduct Officer will consult with one of the Chairs of the Academic Misconduct Committee to decide on an appropriate penalty.
7

Third and subsequent offences of plagiarism or collusion (in taught and research degrees apart from research degree thesis or published work).

Permanent exclusion from the University
8

Major plagiarism in a research degree thesis or published work.

Permanent exclusion from the University
9

The commissioning and/or submission of work which is not the student’s own work.

Permanent exclusion from the University
10

Writing part of, or all, of another student’s assignment.

Permanent exclusion from the University
11

Falsification of data or sources.

Permanent exclusion from the University
12

Falsification of official documents e.g. medical notes or signatures where these have been used to gain academic benefit

Permanent exclusion from the University
13

First offence of examination misconduct (where student has no previous record of academic misconduct on file) where the student had unauthorised material in their possession.

A mark of 0 for the module (not just the examination) with the normal consequences, if any, for reassessment and with any reassessment being for credit purposes only. This means that all the assessment components will be set to 0 and the student will have to take all the module assessments again. Should the student pass, they will be awarded the credit but will receive a mark of 0. This 0 mark will be used in the degree calculation and so could impact on the class of degree awarded. The 0 mark will also appear on the student’s transcript.
14

A student allowing someone to impersonate them during an examination or test.

Permanent exclusion from the University.
15

Impersonating another student in an examination or test.

Permanent exclusion from the University.
16

Second and subsequent offences of examination misconduct.

 Permanent exclusion from the University.
17

Gaining access to assessment details e.g. examination paper, prior to the release of the assessment details.

 Permanent exclusion from the University.
18

Research offence.

Case by case basis up to permanent exclusion or retraction of the degree depending on the severity of the breach.
19

Any serious offence of academic misconduct which is found to be proven after the credit/award has been awarded / approved by a University Examination Board.

Retrospective removal of credit and/or award, subject to confirmation by the Senate of the University.

Who can I go to for advice?

If you require support and representation regarding an allegation of academic misconduct you should contact:

Advice & Support at Keele, Students’ Union

Tel: 01782 734800 

Email: su.ask@keele.ac.uk

 

If you have any questions about the process, please contact the Student Appeals, Complaints and Conduct Team.