Academic Integrity: support and advice

Maintaining academic integrity through your studies is incredibly important, and the University has an obligation to ensure it is upheld. Academic integrity is the values of the academic community, and includes completing assessments and exams honestly and in a responsible manner, and respecting other's ideas. This is important to maintain the value of your degree and the University's research.

The Code of Practice on Academic Integrity sets out the guidelines on academic integrity, and your responsibilities as a student. It also includes information on expected academic behaviour and the process that is followed if guidelines are not followed.

Breaking the rules

Where a student has failed to maintain academic integrity, it is usually by committing plagiarism in assessments (intentionally or unintentionally), or through misconduct in an exam. Find out more about the different types of plagiarism and academic misconduct below.

Test your knowledge

Can you discuss a take home exam in a group chat? Is it plagiarism if you didn't reference a quote? You can find a helpful video and interactive quiz on your School's Canvas pages to help you understand academic integrity by working through some realistic examples.

Different types of plagiarism and academic misconduct

Most people will recognise that copying someone else's work or not referencing properly is plagiarism, but do you know about the different types of plagiarism?

Copying

This is presenting word done by others as your own work, including copying other students (past or present), reproducing course materials (lecture notes, presentations, data etc.), or cutting and pasting directly from the internet or copying out parts of a textbook or journal.

It can also include inadequate or misleading referencing or paraphrasing.

Self-plagiarism

Sometimes called auto-plagiarism, this is when you submit work you have submitted before, whether at Birmingham or another university, without referencing it appropriately. This could be all or part of your work.

Collusion

Collusion is collaborating with other students on work that is presented as your own individual work. This can include working together on essays or discussing the content of take-home exams with others.

Collusion does not include permitted collaboration as part of group work.

Fabrication or misrepresentation

This is claiming to have done work which you haven't actually done, and includes falsifying or misrepresenting data, evidence or results which form part of your work.

Commisioning work, buying essays and software

This includes submitting work that you have not done yourself that has been bought from an essay writing company or website, downloaded from an essay repository, or which has been prepared by someone other than you. This could be all or part of your work.

Unacceptable proof-reading

Unacceptable proof-reading would be someone reading your work and rewriting all or part of the text to improve the arguments you are making, to add new arguments, or to rewrite computer code.

For postgraduate theses written in English, proof-reading is acceptable where the rewriting is only for the purpose of clarifying the written English.

Exam irregularities

When something happens in an exam that shouldn't have done, we call it an 'exam irregularity'. Exams include written and practical exams and class tests.

In traditional exams this could include someone having notes which aren't permitted, copying from another students, trying to see an exam paper before the exam, getting someone else to sit the exam for you (or sitting it for someone else), or causing a disturbance in an exam. 

In online exams and assessments (including 'take home exams'), it could include discussing the questions or answers with other students, taking screenshots of questions, working with other students to write or draft your answers, copying or submitting someone else's work, or getting someone else to sit the exam for you.

Find out more about guidance for traditional exams and online exams and assessments.

Why don't we call it cheating?

We don't usually refer to 'cheating' because it implies that the misconduct was intentional. Academic misconduct and plagiarism can be accidental or unintentional. We will usually refer to 'academic misconduct'.

UoBe Ready - helping you prepare for assessments

UoBe Ready is all about helping you feel ready for your exams and assessments. 

Many students investigated for plagiarism or misconduct never intended to break the guidelines. Developing good study habits can help you maintain good academic integrity and avoid unintended plagiarism or academic misconduct whether it's learning how to take notes effectively to help with your referencing or managing your time to avoid rushing your assessments can help you avoid making silly mistakes.

You can access online workshops, find out about wellbeing support, explore our study spaces on campus, and download your own study planner.

UoBe Ready

What happens if I plagiarise or commit academic misconduct?

Academic integrity is taken very seriously. If it is suspected that you may have plagiarised or committed misconduct, an investigation may take place to find out what has happened.

Depending on the outcome of the investigation, you may be referred to a College Misconduct and Fitness to Practice Committee which will consider the case at a hearing and can impose a sanction if the misconduct is found to be proven. Depending on the severity, sanctions can include:

  • Agreeing to appropriate tuition
  • Having the assessment or module mark reduced, with or without the opportunity to resit
  • Limiting the type of award you can achieve
  • Withdrawal from the University

The Code of Practice on Academic Integrity sets out the process and the possible sanctions in detail.

Where can I find help and advice?

Having your work referred for investigation can be a difficult and upsetting time, but there is support available.

Guild Advice can provide free, impartial and confidential advice on preparing for an investigation or committee, and may also be able to provide a 'friend' to attend meetings with you. It is recommended that any student involved in an investigation contacts them for advice.

Contact Guild Advice

You can also access the usual range of support available, including UBHeard and your Wellbeing Officer.

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