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Peter searches the internet for ideas and sources to help him write his essay. He joins an internet chat room to ask for advice. He chats with two students who completed a similar essay last year.

This is collusion

It's fine, he's only asking for advice

This is contract cheating

Can you spot academic misconduct?

Yes, that's correct!

This isn't collusion or contract cheating as he is allowed to ask peers for advice. However, there is no way of telling if these internet users are who they say they are, or if their advice is useful.

The students give Peter copies of their plans and the essays they wrote. What should he do?

Re-write the best ideas in his own words

Submit one of the essays as his own

Try to write the essay without referring to them

Yes, that's the best option!

Peter is committing academic misconduct if he copies part or all of someone else's work, even if he re-writes some in his own words.

Peter works with Amira to draft and edit his work; Amira rewrites Peter's introduction and Peter adds some references from her essay to his reference list.

This is collusion: Peter will be referred for academic misconduct

This is collusion: both Peter and Amira will be referred for academic misconduct

This is fine: Amira is helping her friend

That's correct: both Peter and Amira are at risk of being referred for academic misconduct, as the marking process will uncover the similarities between their work.

Both Peter and Amira are at risk of being referred for academic misconduct, as the marking process will uncover the similarities between their work.

Abby has three assignments due in the next two weeks: an essay, a group presentation and a report. The group presentation has taken priority and she is struggling to find academic sources for her essay and report. She copies and pastes parts of articles she has found on the internet into a Word document, with the URLs of the websites, and intends to make these into her essay. What should she do to avoid academic misconduct?

She can reference the sources in her essay using the URLs. She is not at risk of academic misconduct.

She can still plan her time to allow for more research, and to plan a structure for her essay.

She should submit the Word document as it is as it shows her tutor she has done the work.

Using copied and pasted extracts from internet sources is not good academic practice, and Abby is at a high risk of academic misconduct.

Planning a timetable to make use of her time will help Abby to focus on the tasks she needs to complete. She can allocate time to find more resources, and to plan the structure of her essay.

Most academic misconduct occurs because of a lack of planning, or incomplete referencing.

Plan your schedule, and individual assignments, to avoid the risk of academic misconduct.

The Skills Hub has more support and guidance about academic integrity and how to avoid plagiarism.

So how did you do?

Did you spot when the students were at risk of academic misconduct?

Further Reading

Further reading

Cottrell, S. (2013) Part A: Managing yourself for study. The Study Skills Handbook. 4th ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave McMillan.

Drew, S. and Bingham, R. (2012) Ch.14: Action planning: identifying actions; making recommendations. The Guide to Learning and Study Skills: For Higher Education and at Work. London: Routledge.

National Extension College/UCAS [n.d.] Study skills Guide Series: Time management [online].
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