Academic Misconduct Policy and Procedure

ACADEMIC MISCONDUCT POLICY AND PROCEDURE

Introduction

This policy guides how to handle academic misconduct at LSME. LSME considers academic misconduct to be falsification/ fabrication of results or other attempts to gain an unfair advantage in assignments and assessments. Academic misconduct includes plagiarism, cheating, attempting to cheat, submission of a fraudulent extenuating circumstances claims, impersonation, purchasing and submission of an assignment from a third party, and submitting an assignment which has already been submitted by another student.

Course assessments include every form of written, oral and diagrammatic work (such as diagnostic assessment, class presentation, class test) that is submitted by the student for marking or grading.

Scope and Application

This policy applies to all LSME students and staff involved in assessment (Lecturers, Internal Moderators, and Programme Leaders). They will apply for all aspects of the assessment of all programmes delivered by LSME.

All allegations or suggestions of plagiarism, assessment irregularities or any form of academic misconduct will be investigated by the College, with appropriate penalties issued to students (or details referred to the appropriate bodies) where it is found that there is indeed a case to answer.

In any proceedings under these procedures, the student shall be presumed to be innocent until the contrary is established on the balance of probabilities.

Any dispute as to the interpretation of these procedures shall be referred to the Attendance and Attendance and Disciplinary Committee of LSME.

Principles

These procedures are intended to be fair, consistent, transparent, accessible, and avoid undue additional administrative burden for staff and students; whilst forming part of a framework which promotes good academic practice across all forms of teaching, learning and assessment.  In line with the School’s equal opportunities policy, these procedures should treat students no differently based on any matter related to their age, race or ethnicity, religion or belief, gender or sexual orientation, or any disability.

Definitions and Good Practice

Plagiarism is the copying or use of the work of others, whether intentionally or unintentionally as if it were your own. Such work may come from any source whether published or unpublished, in print or online – including words, images, audio recordings, diagrams, performances, ideas, judgements, discoveries and results.

To avoid plagiarism:

  • Where any use or mention is made of the work of others, it should be acknowledged.
  • A recognised citation system (Harvard referencing system) should be used.
  • Quotations must accurately refer to and acknowledged.
  • Direct quotations, whether extended or short, must always be identified.
  • Paraphrasing – using other words to express the ideas or judgements of others – must be acknowledged.
  • Work done in collaboration with others must appropriately refer to their involvement and input.


Cheating
is a deliberate attempt to deceive to gain an advantage in an assessed piece of work, including coursework and assessments. This covers a range of offences, from significant instances of plagiarism to falsification or fabrication of research findings.

Fraud is the submission of any work which may cause others to regard what is not true as true. This covers work which has been fabricated (e.g. with invented data or case reports), falsified (e.g. with wilfully distorted data) or omits significant items.

Collusion is any form of collaboration with another person, including another student, which has not been acknowledged or permitted for assessment purposes. Different forms of collusion may be regarded as either plagiarism or cheating.

Personation is the deliberate submission of work done by another person (e.g. another student, a friend, a relative, a peer, a tutor, or anyone else) as if it were the student’s own. Another person’s work may cover any source whether published or unpublished, including words, images, audio recordings, diagrams, ideas, judgements, discoveries, and results. This may cross over with a range of other offences; submission of another person’s work with their knowledge is likely to constitute collusion; doing so without their knowledge may constitute Plagiarism; representing a piece of joint or group work as the student’s own is likely to constitute fraud, and deliberately procuring work from sources or commercial entities such as essay banks would be very likely considered cheating.

The term ‘assessment irregularity’ applies to any suspected instance of plagiarism, cheating, fraud, collusion, personation, or other non-standard activity identified about an assessment (including essays or other coursework assessments written in a student’s own time).

Students are each individually responsible for safeguarding their work (e.g. assignments, essays, projects, reports, dissertations, theses, and other similar work) to prevent such work from being copied inappropriately by other students or persons.

Preventing Student Malpractice

  1. LSME believes that academic misconduct can be prevented by educating students through the provision of initial and continuing briefings on such topics as the Harvard style of referencing, and clear guidance and support on matters such as assignment structure and assignment preparation.
  2. Using the induction period and the course handbook to inform students of the College’s policy on academic malpractice and consequent penalties.
  3. Students should not be discouraged from conducting research; indeed, evidence of relevant research often contributes to the achievement of higher grades. However, the submitted work must show evidence that the student has interpreted and synthesised appropriate information and has acknowledged any sources used. All students are required to scan their coursework with Turnitin anti-plagiarism software before submitting the soft copy for formative feedback. This will enable students to apply appropriate paraphrasing and referencing techniques before the final submission. The final work must be submitted with the Turnitin scan report and the student’s work is accepted if the similarity report corresponds to the threshold value specified in the assignment brief and the assessors are satisfied with the reference choices and paraphrasing.
  4. Introducing procedures for assessing work in a way that reduces or identifies malpractice, e.g. plagiarism, collusion, cheating, etc. These procedures may include:
    • The requirement for interim work to be handed in before final deadlines to give a picture of the student’s progress.
    • Periods of supervised sessions during which evidence for assignments/tasks/ coursework is produced by the student.
    • Altering assessment assignments/tasks/tools regularly.
    • The assessor assessing work for a single assignment/task in a single session for the complete cohort of students.
    • Using oral questions with students to ascertain their understanding of the concepts and application within their work.
    • Assessors getting to know their students’ styles and abilities.


Malpractice by Staff

The following are examples of malpractice by staff:

  • Assisting learners in the production of work for assessment, where the support has the potential to influence the outcomes of assessment, for example where the assistance involves centre staff producing work for the learner.
  • Producing falsified witness statements, for example for evidence the learner has not generated.
  • Allowing evidence that is known by the staff member not to be the learner’s own, to be included in a learner’s assignment/task/ portfolio/coursework.
  • Facilitating and allowing impersonation.
  • Misusing the conditions for special learner requirements, for example, where learners are permitted support, such as an amanuensis, this is permissible up to the point where the support has the potential to influence the outcome of the assessment
  • Failing to keep learner computer files securely.
  • Falsifying records/certificates, for example by alteration, substitution, or fraud
  • Fraudulent certificate claims, that is claiming for a certificate before the learner completing all the requirements of assessment.

Please refer to the College policy on staff Misconduct on how to deal with staff academic misconduct.

Procedure for Dealing with Academic Misconduct

Initiation of proceedings

Students who have a higher Turnitin Similarity report, than the threshold provided in the assignment brief during the formative stages of the assignment may not be considered as cases of deliberate academic misconduct at this stage but will be regarded as occurring as a result of inadequate paraphrasing or poor practice in paraphrasing. They will be advised by their teachers to improve on paraphrasing any information obtained from different sources and add academic references before the final submission. The final version of coursework should have a similarity threshold that corresponds to the percentage shown on the assignment briefs and will be checked for sources of information to satisfy ourselves of the authenticity of academic references.

Cases of suspected assessment irregularity from the teacher or other students should be reported in the first instance to the Programme Leader.

The Programme Leader should then make an initial investigation of the alleged irregularity and establish whether there is a case to answer in no more than 10 working days. The Programme Leader should investigate the nature of the allegation, students file for the history of disability declaration, previous allegations if any. Where an irregularity is alleged, no assessment result should be released for the work in question until a verdict is reached on the allegation. In the rare event that a case is not resolved before the final Board of Examiners meeting at which the involved student’s results would have been considered, then both the student and the relevant Board should be informed to defer consideration of these results.

Having made an initial investigation of an allegation, if the responsible Programme Leader determines that there is no case to answer they need not record a report on the allegation. If the Programme Leader decides there is no case to answer but the student has demonstrated poor practice (e.g. in referencing or citing or paraphrasing) he or she may informally contact the student to remind them of best practice and the need to strictly observe assessment requirements.

Where the initial investigation determines that there is a case to answer, they would progress to an investigation panel. The panel will consist of a member of the Attendance and Attendance and Disciplinary Committee (ADC), the Programme Leader, the Assessor involved and an Assessor not directly involved with the allegation and the student in question.

The Programme Leader should then contact the student: (i) describe the alleged irregularity in writing. (ii) enclosing a copy of these Procedures; and (iii) requesting the student to explain their conduct or give any other evidence to the relevant Panel. It should be made clear that the explanation and evidence from the student may be given either in person at a meeting or in writing. The student should also be encouraged to disclose any disability or medical condition to the Panel that may have a bearing on the alleged irregularity.

Panel Meeting

The Panel shall meet as soon as possible, normally within 10 working days from the student being sent a notification that there is a case to answer. Dates set should be mutually convenient for the panel and the student. If the involved student is unable or does not wish to attend in person, the Panel may reach a decision without a formal meeting (e.g. by email contact) at the discretion of the chair of the panel.

The meeting is not a hearing and may be kept relatively informal. A friend or representative may accompany the student at the meeting if desired, for instance, a fellow-student or Student Representative. This is a courtesy; such an individual should not be a formal legal counsel, and should not actively participate in the Panel meeting.

Questions may include:

  • How did you put the piece of work together?
  • Did you get any written/oral guidelines in putting it together?
  • What source material did you use – where did you get it from?
  • How did you use the source material?
  • Did you photocopy from books – did you highlight text?
  • How did you transfer these ‘notes’ to your actual assignment?
  • Did you paraphrase the source material?
  • Did you re-write it in your own words?
  • Did you get information from the Internet?
  • Did you copy and paste text from the internet to a word document, did you print the page?
  • Then what did you do with the text – was it inserted into the assignment, did you treat it as notes?
  • What do you understand about referencing / bibliographies?
  • What referencing systems are you required to use in your department? (E.g. Harvard Referencing – would be the norm unless told otherwise by a tutor).

The Panel may, at its discretion, have private discussions – requesting that the student and any other attendees vacate the room, or themselves retiring to another room. This is normally done before deciding any provisional penalty and is aimed for consensus between panel members.

The Panel makes a recommendation to the Principal about which penalty might be appropriate. Then the Principal makes a final decision based on the Panel’s recommendation which can be the same as the penalty recommended or can be more lenient.

Levels of Penalties

Penalties for assessment irregularities should be determined on a sliding scale that takes account of the severity of the offence and should be applied in a consistent way across the College. Penalties may cover any combination of the following:

  • That no further action is taken.
  • That the student is reprimanded (either verbally or in writing) by the responsible Programme Leader and reminded of the need to strictly observe assessment requirements, with a note to this effect added to their student file. This will happen in cases where the student’s work may be below the required Turnitin Similarity threshold but still suggests inadequate paraphrasing in certain areas.
  • That in addition to other penalties, the student is required to attend a nominated course or training session on good referencing practice and avoiding plagiarism. This will happen in cases where the student’s work may be below or slightly above the required Turnitin Similarity threshold but still suggests inadequate paraphrasing and poor practice in referencing in certain areas.  The student is also likely to have engaged in this malpractice for the first time.
  • Where the offence is one of identified plagiarism as above, the plagiarised section of the work is ignored or, removed and the remaining portion of the work marked as per the normal course regulations.
  • That where the offence is one of identified plagiarism, the work is not marked until it is revised for re-submission as a resit assignment, specifying the maximum grade achievable. This is the case for repeated offenders and students with an extremely high proportion of similarity on Turnitin and did not attempt to improve in the formative stages of the assessment.
  • That where the offence is one of identified fraud, the work is not marked until it is revised for re-submission as a resit assignment, specifying the maximum grade achievable. This will occur in cases where the student deliberately copies another student’ work or obtains assignment from Essay Mills / Contract Cheating,
  • That the result for the piece of work is reduced to a passing grade.
  • Students who are permitted to rewrite the assignment but the penalty may specify any maximum pass grade achievable in re-sitting.
  • That the student is not  permitted to re-enter for any or all of these assessments if the academic malpractice is very serious (such as a fraudulent extenuating circumstances claims from the onset of the programme giving the learner undue advantage over others.)
  • That the student is excluded from future assessments for awards of the College.
  • That withdrawal proceeding is initiated against the student with immediate effect.

 

Next Review Date: October 2021

 
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