Annex 8 - Academic integrity and plagiarism reviews

  1. As set out in Section 9.2 of this Code, all dissertations submitted for a research degree are subject to an academic integrity and plagiarism review before the assessment process starts. Dissertations may also be subject to a separate investigation if plagiarism or another transgression is suspected during or after the assessment process. Figure 8.1 provides an overview of the academic integrity and plagiarism review with the detail of the procedure set out in the subsequent text.

 Figure 8.1 An overview of the academic integrity and plagiarism review procedure

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2.    Submission to Turnitin and the review


2.1     Details of how to submit dissertations to Turnitin will be provided in Faculty guidelines which will be made available to students at least twelve months before their final submission date.

2.2     After the student has submitted to Turnitin, the reviewer nominated by the School must review the text comparison report within ten working days.

2.3     In exceptional circumstances, where there are contractual, security or safety obligations and where this has been approved by the Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor (PGR), a manual check on academic integrity and plagiarism will be undertaken by the supervisors with the outcome reported to the candidate and to the Academic Quality and Policy Office (see Section 9.2.3 of the Code).

 3.    Where the reviewer finds no suspected plagiarism

3.1     Where the nominated reviewer finds no suspected plagiarism in the dissertation, the School must report the outcome to the candidate and to the Academic Quality and Policy Office. The dissertation will be sent for examination.

4.    Where the reviewer finds suspected plagiarism

4.1      Where the nominated reviewer finds suspected plagiarism, the School must notify the Head of School and the Faculty PGR Director as soon as possible, in writing, with the relevant evidence. The School must also inform the candidate, the main supervisor and the Academic Quality and Policy Office.

4.2        The Faculty PGR Director (or nominee) will consider the evidence and, where they consider it to be minor poor academic practice, may forward the case to the Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor (PGR) for a decision.

4.2.1   The Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor (PGR) may decide that it is minor poor academic practice, and that the student must therefore re-present their dissertation to Turnitin and to the Academic Quality and Policy Office with correct referencing

4.2.2   The Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor (PGR) will set a deadline of up to four weeks from the notification of the decision to the student, with any necessary support to be provided by the student’s supervisors. In exceptional cases, the Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor (PGR) may decide on a longer period and may grant extensions to the deadline.

4.2.3   The Faculty PGR Director (or nominee) must inform the candidate, the main supervisor, the Head of School and the Academic Quality and Policy Office of the decision of poor academic practice.

4.3      In all other cases, the Faculty PGR Director must convene a faculty panel to investigate the suspected plagiarism, which will involve the panel interviewing the student. If the panel has been set up because of other transgressions in academic integrity are suspected (see Section 9 below), the panel will investigate those suspected transgressions. The Faculty PGR Director is responsible for ensuring that the candidate and main supervisor are notified of the decision to convene a panel.

4.4      The panel must consist of at least three academic members of staff without previous direct involvement with the student, including (i) a member of the student’s home School and (ii) a member of another School.

4.6     The Faculty PGR Director must appoint a nominee with appropriate experience to chair the panel. To maintain impartiality, the Faculty PGR Director must not chair or be a member of the panel.

4.7      The Faculty Education Manager (or nominee) must attend to provide advice on regulations and is also responsible for ensuring that a formal note of the interview is taken.

4.8      The purpose of the interview is to determine whether plagiarism (or other transgressions in academic integrity – see Section 9 below) has occurred and to allow the student to make representations and to present mitigating factors.

4.9      Information and evidence circulated to the panel must be made available to the student in advance of the panel interview.

4.10    An adviser, friend or other representative (such as Just Ask) may accompany the student to the interview. This adviser, friend or representative may address the meeting and may confer with the student, but they must not answer any questions on behalf of the student.

4.11    It is not necessary to record the interview, but the Chair may decide that a recording is appropriate in exceptional circumstances.

4.12    The Chair of the panel must agree the formal note of the interview and ensure that all participants, including the student, receive a copy.

4.13    Where the student declines to attend the interview, the panel should continue the investigation with the available evidence. Any obstruction or lack of engagement from the student must be included in the panel’s report to the Research Degrees Examination Board (see Section 6 below).

5.    The panel’s decisions

5.1     Following the investigation, the panel must first decide whether the student has committed the offence of plagiarism (or another transgression in academic integrity – see Section 9 below).

5.2     If the panel decides that the offence has not been proved, no further action will be taken under this procedure. The Chair of the panel must inform, in writing, the candidate, the main supervisor, the Head of School, the Faculty PGR Director, and the Academic Quality and Policy Office of this decision. The dissertation will be sent out for examination

5.3     If the panel finds that the offence of plagiarism (or other transgression) has been committed, the panel must determine the seriousness, taking into account (i) whether it is the first or subsequent offence, and (ii) the extent and significance of plagiarism (or other transgression) in the dissertation.

6.     Referral to the Research Degrees Examination Board

6.1     Where the panel finds that the offence of plagiarism (or other transgression) has been committed, the panel must write to the Research Degrees Examination Board (RDEB) to recommend a penalty taken from the list in 7.1 below. In cases of serious plagiarism (or other transgression), the panel may also recommend that a non-academic penalty be considered.

6.2     The report to RDEB must set out the finding of plagiarism (or other transgression) and must include:

6.2.1      a brief summary of the evidence considered;

6.2.3      the formal note of the interview, or details of why the student declined an interview;

6.2.4      the factors taken into account in reaching a decision;

6.2.5      any mitigation provided by the student; and

6.2.6      the recommendation/s.

6.3     The Chair of the panel must inform the student and main supervisor of the recommendation to RDEB, but the report to RDEB remains confidential at this stage.

7.    RDEB decision

7.1      RDEB must consider the panel’s report and may decide to:

7.1.1         impose no penalty beyond reporting the outcome to the Head of School and the main supervisor for future reference, either permanently or for a specified period;

7.1.2        require re-presentation of all or part of the dissertation;

7.1.3        exclude the student from the award of the degree, which may be either permanent or for a stated period, and may be absolute or subject to compliance with stipulated requirements; or

7.1.4        award a lower qualification than that for which the student was registered where regulations permit this.

7.2     The penalty will depend on the seriousness of the offence with any mitigating factors reported by the panel being taken into account when determining the penalty.

7.3     Where RDEB decides that an academic penalty is sufficient, it must inform the student and main supervisor of its decision in writing and include a copy of the panel’s report. The Head of School, the Chair of the panel and the Faculty Education Manager must also be informed of the decision.

7.4     If the penalty imposed is re-presentation of all or part of the dissertation the student must be given a deadline for the re-presentation, usually not exceeding four weeks from the date of notification by RDEB of the decision. In exceptional circumstances, RDEB may decide on a longer initial period and the RDEB Chair (or nominee) may grant extensions to the deadline.

7.5     Where RDEB considers that an academic penalty is insufficient due to the serious nature of the plagiarism, it may instead refer the case to be dealt with under the Student Disciplinary Regulations as set out in Section 8 below. RDEB will not impose any penalty itself in those cases but may recommend to the Vice-Chancellor that a specified academic penalty is imposed alongside any non-academic penalties made under the Student Disciplinary Regulations.

7.6     Details of the allegation and penalty must be recorded in the RDEB minutes. Cases of plagiarism in a dissertation submitted for a research degree should normally be mentioned in student references, unless any time limit set by RDEB under 7.1.1 above has expired.

7.7     The Academic Quality and Policy Office will keep a central record of plagiarism cases considered by RDEB and report them to University Academic Quality and Standards Committee annually.

8.    Procedure in the event of serious plagiarism where an academic penalty is considered insufficient

8.1     If RDEB considers that the plagiarism is so serious that a penalty other than an academic penalty should be considered, the matter should be dealt with under the Student Disciplinary Regulations. RDEB will make a recommendation to the Vice-Chancellor, through the University Secretary, to this effect, including a recommendation for a specified academic penalty to be imposed alongside any non-academic penalty.

8.2     Where an offence of plagiarism is dealt with under the Student Disciplinary Regulations, the Vice-Chancellor (or nominee) will make the final decision on penalties and may impose any penalty or penalties available under the Student Disciplinary Regulations and the specified academic penalty recommended by RDEB.  

9.    Where plagiarism or other transgression in academic integrity are suspected during or after the assessment process

9.1     In cases where examiners suspect plagiarism or other transgressions in academic integrity, such as falsifying data, during the assessment process, the procedure set out in Sections 4 to 7 above will be followed. The examiners must provide a report setting out the details of the suspected plagiarism or other transgressions to the School as evidence to inform the deliberations of the panel convened under Section 4 above.

9.2     If examiners have any suspicions of plagiarism or other transgressions prior to the oral examination, the assessment process must be halted so that the academic integrity and plagiarism procedure may be completed. Continuation of the assessment process will depend upon the outcome this procedure.

9.3     If an examiner suspects plagiarism or other transgression during the oral examination, they may ask questions of the candidate to inform their view more fully. If the concerns remain, the oral examination must be stopped. The internal examiner (or Independent Chair if present) will inform the candidate that the oral examination has been stopped due to suspected plagiarism or other transgression. The internal examiner (or Independent Chair if present) will then notify the Academic Quality and Policy Office. The examiners must provide a report setting out the details of the suspected plagiarism or other transgression so that it may be investigated through the plagiarism procedure. Continuation of the examination process, including a rescheduled oral examination, will depend upon the outcome of the plagiarism procedure.

9.4     If plagiarism or other transgression is suspected after the oral examination, the procedure set out in Sections 4 to 7 will be followed to the extent practicable.

9.5     Where an award has been made and the student is no longer registered at the University, any allegations of plagiarism or other transgression in academic integrity should be referred in the first instance to RDEB for investigation. The investigation will be conducted in such a way as RDEB considers reasonable and appropriate in the circumstances with the aim of ensuring a fair process. The outcome of the investigation will be reported to the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education), who may consult with the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) before reaching a decision on the case. If the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education) considers that the award has been improperly obtained, the case will be referred to Senate for consideration of whether to recommend to the Board of Trustees that the award be withdrawn under Ordinance 16.