Academic Misconduct

Any piece of academic work submitted by a student must be that student’s own work. For this reason, both collusion and plagiarism are forbidden.

Collusion occurs when two or more people work together to produce something which is then submitted as an individual piece of original work.

Plagiarism is the taking of passages, ideas, structure etc. from another work or author without attribution. Naturally, because Politics is a subject in which authorities of various sorts are of great importance, you will frequently have to quote from judgments, statutes, authoritative works of reference, academic articles etc.  The essential point, however, is that the writer should indicate unequivocally (usually by a reference although sometimes he or she may prefer to state it in the text) that the material is taken from another source.

Where one quotes directly from another source, the relevant passage must be enclosed within quotation marks (“...”) or, in the case of longer quotes, indented so as to distinguish it from the rest of the text. And, when one is drawing upon the ideas, arguments or structure (and structure can be very important) of another work, this must be candidly acknowledged at an appropriate point (or points). It is not enough simply to list the source in the bibliography.

A student who is experiencing any difficulties as to these important points should consult, in advance, with the lecturer who assigned the work.  A student who has submitted an essay/dissertation may be required to attend at his or her lecturer’s office to discuss his/her essay in order to enable the lecturer to satisfy himself or herself that the essay is entirely the student’s own work.

Plagiarism and collusion are strictly forbidden. Students are warned that heavy penalties are imposed.  These may include the student’s work being marked at zero and referral to the Registrar’s Office or other appropriate UCC authorities.

1. Introduction

1.1 Plagiarism is the presentation of someone else’s work as your own.When done deliberately, it is cheating, since it is an attempt to claim credit for work not done by you and fails to give credit for the work of others.Plagiarism applies not just to text, but to graphics, tables, formulae, or any representation of ideas in print, electronic or any other media.

1.2 In some cases work can be plagiarised inadvertently, but this is usually due to carelessness and poor academic discipline.Whether deliberate or inadvertent, plagiarism undermines scholarship, is a form of academic misconduct, and conflicts with the ethos of the University.

1.3 Much of this policy document is aimed at informing undergraduate and postgraduate students about plagiarism.

1.4 In almost any academic pursuit, one learns from the ideas and the work of others.Therefore, in preparing any work to be presented as part of one’s course or for research or scholarship, one must rely on other people’s work to develop one’s own.It is imperative, however, that this work is fully acknowledged, following the standard referencing practice within the particular discipline.

1.5 At a minimum one must indicate when any material is being quoted directly (e.g. by enclosing it in quotation marks [“ “] in the case of text) and cite the source.Also, one must acknowledge the influence of other sources even when they are not being quoted directly.Acknowledgements must be provided at the appropriate point in one’s work - it is not enough simply to list the sources at the end of one’s work.

1.6 In some cases, particularly in the professional academic arena, plagiarism will also be a breach of copyright, which can expose the copier to civil or even criminal legal proceedings. However, plagiarism is not confined to cases of breach of copyright, since it can relate to unpublished material, such as someone else’s notes, which may not be covered by copyright.Also, while copyright has an expiry date, no such date applies to plagiarism.

1.7 Collusion is a form of plagiarism.If one allows someone else to copy one’s work, this is collusion and both parties are guilty of plagiarism.Also, if one presents work as one’s own individual effort, where it has in fact been developed jointly with others, this is regarded as collusion. This would obviously not be the case where students work as groups and submit one assignment as a group. Appropriate cognizance should be taken of this fact in departmental or course plagiarism policies.

2.Best Practice

While the policy outlined here applies across the University, there is also a need for School/Departmental policies to take account of the different cultural and other issues that arise amongst different disciplines. Naturally, these policies may be similar for a number of departments.

Each School/Department is obliged to make all students aware of the plagiarism policy through lecture(s), handbooks, handouts and the web etc.Also, each department should provide adequate training early in the academic year on plagiarism and collusion and on best practice to be followed when submitting work for assessment.When providing such information for students, departments should not merely warn them of the penalties for plagiarism, but should also help those students who put excessive constraints on themselves out of a fear of infringing any plagiarism regulations.In this regard it is recommended that all departments give at least one lecture where standard referencing conventions are explained and defined. This should take place in the first year of any course.

3. Transition to Best Practice

Unless one has informed students that their work will be checked for plagiarism, the abrupt enforcement of this policy would be unfair. It is therefore recommended that in the interim all Schools/Departments require students to sign a declaration that all submitted work is wholly their own work.

4.Procedures and penalties

Where a supervisor, examiner or an invigilator suspects plagiarism, then s/he should follow the procedures set out under the “Breach of Examination Regulations” in the “Guide to Examinations for Academic Staff & Students”.These regulations cover assessments undertaken as part of invigilated examinations and also those undertaken outside of invigilated examinations.The relevant sections of the Guide are given in the next section.

The penalties for cheating (including plagiarism) are outlined in the Guide. In the case of assessments that are not part of invigilated examinations, the Regulations allow the Head of School/Department to exercise discretion to pursue the cases of suspected plagiarism/cheating internally within the department (i.e. without reference to the Student Records and Examinations Officer).This should be done in cases of minor breaches of the plagiarism regulations where they are a first offence and are due to carelessness, poor academic practice or where they relate to a very small proportion of the overall assignment. Penalties for more extensive plagiarism (reported to the Student Records and Examinations Office) currently vary somewhat amongst departments, but are based on the principle that students should gain no marks whatsoever for plagiarised material.

Students have a right of appeal, where they believe that they have been treated unfairly by the plagiarism procedures. Such appeals would normally be dealt with through the standard UCC Examination Appeals Committee (which has independent legal oversight).

5. Relevant extracts from the UCC “Guide to Examinations for Academic Staff & Students”( Breach of Examination Regulations)

19.1Cheating means an attempt to benefit oneself, or another, by deceit or fraud or other breach of the examination regulations.Such breaches include personation and plagiarism.As regards plagiarism a significant amount of unacknowledged copying shall be deemed to constitute prima facie evidence of deliberation.Plagiarism consists of using diagrams, maps or verbatim text from any source (e.g. books, internet, journals, fellow students) without acknowledging the author/source.It is important to understand how to reference sources for use in continuous assessment work.

19.6.1Where Examiners suspect candidates of cheating in an essay, dissertation, project, departmental or school testsor other assessed assignment, they will consult theirHead of Department or Head of School.

19.6.2If the Head of the Department or Head of School considers that an offence has occurred, the Head willeither:

(a)Make a full report in writing to the Student Records and Examinations Officer in which case the procedures for an invigilated examination willbe invoked

(b)Exercise discretion to pursue the matter without reference to the Student Records and Examinations Officer, in which case the Head willinform the candidate of the allegation and provide the student with reasonable opportunity to provide an explanation, before determining the appropriate penalty, which willnot exceed assigning a mark of zero in the piece of work to which the offence relates.The candidate, having been informed of the penalty, may choose either:

(i)to accept the penalty as a final decision in which case a summary report of the circumstances of the case and level of penalty exacted willbe lodged by the Head with the Student Records and Examinations Officer


(ii)to have the matter considered by the Student Records and Examinations Officer, thereby invoking procedures to be adopted in 19.5.5through 19.5.11, whereupon the Head will make a full report in writing to the Student Records and Examinations Officer.

19.6.3 In all cases where a report has been submitted by the Head of Department or Head of School to the Student Records and Examinations Officer, the Head willwarn candidates that this report has been made, and inform them in writing of their entitlement to make a written statement to the Student Records and Examinations Officer.

19.6.4 The corresponding reports willbe considered by the Student Records and Examinations Officer and the relevant Head/Dean or nominee who will invite the candidate to a meeting to discuss the matter.

19.6.5 If it is considered that there is not a case to answer, or there is a case to answer but that a penalty within the range of discretion of the Head is appropriate, the matter willend there and the student and Head of Department or Head of School willbe so informed in writing by the Student Records and Examinations Officer.

19.6.6 If it is considered that there is a case to answer but a penalty outside the discretion of the Head may be appropriate, the allegation willbe reported to the Registrar & Vice-President for Academic Affairs, who with the Chairperson of the Discipline Committee, willconsider the matter and determine the penalty in accordance with the procedures applicable

6. Plagiarism at postgraduate level

Penalties for plagiarism at postgraduate level (in particular affecting the content of theses/dissertations) can to some extent be influenced by factors outside UCC as well as the procedures and penalties outlined above. Theses/dissertations are subject to External Examination and an External Examiner is entitled to fail any thesis in which significant plagiarism is detected. Postgraduates have a right of appeal against such decisions by External Examiners.

7. Plagiarism prevention and detection

Hitherto in UCC, plagiarism has been dealt with largely as a disciplinary matter after it has been detected (by an ad hoc mixture of electronic and non-electronic methods). Over the next few years it is the intention that UCC move towards a transparent, non-confrontational approach that will prevent much plagiarism.Undergraduate and postgraduate students will be able to submit any material (in electronic form) for scrutiny by web-based software that assigns originality scores to their work. As far as students are concerned, it is intended that assignments will be submitted to their teachers after they have conducted such scrutiny themselves (together with the relevant software scrutiny report). It will be for Schools/Departments to determine the proportion of assignments that are dealt with in this fashion.

January 29, 2009


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