The University of Suffolk takes academic misconduct very seriously so it’s important that you understand what academic misconduct actually is, and what precautions you can take to ensure that you avoid being called up for a suspected academic offence.
Academic misconduct covers many things, below you will find a discussion of the key types. If you think you need extra support or guidance your course leaders and personal tutors will be able to help. You can also get further guidance with referencing, sourcing appropriate materials and improving your academic writing from Academic Skills Advisors (ASA), click HERE for information about booking one-to-one appointments with ASA.
You could be accused of plagiarism if you have presented another person’s work as your own. This includes, but is not limited to, text, images and designs.
Note that you can also self-plagiarise if you submit work you have previously submitted without acknowledgement.
Collusion is the unauthorised co-operation between at least two people who will normally have the intent to deceive. For example, if you work on an assessment with another student and you attempt to pass off the work as being from just one student. Both the student attempting to pass off an assessment as their own as well as the student who has given them their work would be guilty.
Fabrication is the invention, alteration or falsification of data and/or evidence that contributes to an assessment. This includes, but is not limited to, making up your research data, forging signatures and making certificates.
Cheating includes any behaviour that might interfere with the fairness of an assessment in order to gain an unfair advantage. This includes, but is not limited to, bribing staff or behaving in a way which is likely to cause a problem for another student when they are assessed.
Failure to have ethical approval
This type of academic misconduct is exclusive to research which will likely take place in your third year of undergraduate study. Failing to acquire ethical approval for your research, which requires approval, will result in an allegation of academic misconduct.
If you are unsure whether your research requires ethical approval your course team can help you with this.
Use of this term covers paying or soliciting another person or a service (e.g. essay mill) to write a piece of work on your behalf. This also includes downloading pre-written essays and submitting them as your own.
Poor academic practice
If you have been accused of poor academic practice you may have attempted to reference a source within your work, but you have not managed to do this correctly or consistently throughout your work.
If this happens within your first semester of study it is likely you need further guidance. Click HERE to view our page ‘Referencing Support’ to find out where you can find further support.
Academic Skills Advisors
As mentioned above, you can get further support from Academic Skills Advisors. Advisors can help to answer any questions you have, offer personalised tips, advice about assessment, referencing, how to avoid academic misconduct. Click HERE to find out more to book an appointment with an ASA.
Draft Submissions Areas
Make use of the ‘Draft Submission Areas’ available on Brightspace.
You can use this area to submit your work and check for plagiarism, it is checked through the Turn-it-in online. Turn-it-in will provide you with a percentage of similarity. If you need help reading the percentages an ASA can help you read your score.
What happens if I am accused of academic misconduct?
We hope that you will not have to go through this however if you do this timeline, shown below, will guide you through the different stages if you are suspected of academic misconduct.
stage 1 – An Accusation of Academic Misconduct
If the academic member of staff who marks your work suspects it may contain academic misconduct they first have to complete a form with an official allegation.
The member of staff will have to contain details of the allegation and attach what evidence they have of this.
The form also needs to be signed by the course leader before it is considered.
Once the form is discussed and signed with the course leader it will then be sent to OSACC.
Stage 2 – Responding to an Allegation
If you are being investigated for Academic Misconduct, you will receive a letter from OSACC which will outline the details of the allegation.
In the letter you are given the opportunity to respond to the allegation and provide relevant evidence, you have 15 working days to respond. It is important that you send a response to the allegation because if you fail to do so then it is deemed acceptance of the allegation.
If you receive a letter, firstly, try not to panic! As difficult as it is, don’t automatically assume the worst is going to happen.
If you need to, you can book an appointment to speak to one of our advisors HERE.
We can give you some advice on how to write the best possible statement, and we’ll even read a draft before you’re ready to submit it.
You can download a template guide to help you write your statement, please click HERE to view.
Please remember it’s always best, to be honest, and if the allegation is true, try to explain why it happened. Were you working on a piece of group work? Was there a problem with your reference list?
Stage 3 – Academic Misconduct Panel
The Academic Misconduct Panel will then review and discuss the allegation alongside the statement and evidence you provide.
You’ll be asked if you want to attend the panel in person, but this is completely your choice. If you do decide to attend and want some support, let us know and we will be happy to attend with you.
The members of the Panel are senior staff and academic staff but will not include any staff members that are directly associated with the marking of your work. This is to ensure there will be no conflict of interest.
Please note the Panel can’t take into account any extenuating circumstances when they are deliberate whether or not an offence has been committed, but they may look at whether there was any intent to gain an unfair advantage and will use whatever you tell them to help them decide what penalty they should recommend.
Stage 4 – Outcome of Allegation
The Panel’s decision should be communicated to you within 5 working days of the Panel meeting.
If the panel decide that the allegation can be found to be proven they will then need to decide on an appropriate penalty.
The penalty will then be passed onto the Assessment Board who will then consider the recommendation. The Assessment Board will then inform you of the penalty within 15 working days of their meeting.
Allegation not proven
If the panel decide an allegation is not proven then the record of the allegation will be removed from your record and the work you submitted will then be assessed and marked as normal.
Appealing a Decision from the Academic Misconduct Panel
You do have the right to appeal a decision of an academic misconduct panel.
See here for more information on academic appeals.
Need support? Book an appointment with a member from SU Advice HERE.
Academic Misconduct Policy
Preparation and Conduct of Examinations Policy