Academic Rights: Misconduct Panels.

WHAT IS ACADEMIC MISCONDUCT?

An academic misconduct investigation is when you have been accused of an assessment offence. A summary of the types of assessment offence this might include are:

  • Plagiarism - the presentation of another person’s work as your own, without proper attribution or reference. This can be intentional or unintentional.
  • Commissioning - the use of a third party to do your work.
  • Duplication - unacknowledged or unauthorised replication of your own work.
  • Falsification - unacknowledged invention or alteration of data, quotes or references.
  • Collusion – working with another student to produce work

When you submit your academic work it often goes through a program called Turnitin. This is a text matching software that indicates whether what you are submitting matches something that has already been written; whether that be by someone else or previously submitted work by yourself.

If your work comes back with a high percentage of matched text from either one or multiple sources and there is suspicion of academic misconduct, you will receive a written report which sets out the specific allegation, including relevant evidence, and you may be invited to a panel.

minor offences

In some cases, usually instances where there is clear evidence of minor misconduct or poor academic practice, the chair of the Academic Misconduct Panel may decide to offer you a penalty straight away rather than arrange a panel meeting. This will be clearly stated in the letter you are sent, and you will have 10 working days to respond to let them know whether you accept the penalty or not.

It is up to you whether you accept the penalty. If you wish to present evidence for your case, or you are not happy with the penalty, you can request that a panel is convened. If you do not respond within 10 working days, the penalty will be automatically applied and the case closed. If you need help deciding whether you should accept a penalty or not, or have questions about the process, please get in touch with us at advice@su.rhul.ac.uk and we can advise you further.

WHAT HAPPENS IN a PANEL MEETING?

At the moment, Academic Misconduct panels are taking place over zoom. We would strongly encourage you to attend the panel if you are able, but there is the option to complete a written response form if you cannot make it. The panel will consist of a Chair, another academic member of staff, someone from Academic Investigations who will be taking minutes and yourself (along with a student or member of staff if you want to have someone with you).

If you receive an invitation to a misconduct panel, the Advice Centre can prepare you for your panel meeting and accompany you to the meeting itself. Just send across the letter you have received from the Academic Investigations team to advice@su.rhul.ac.uk and an advisor will get in touch to offer you some support.

The panel is your opportunity to respond to the allegation and explain how or why you think your work is being investigated for academic misconduct. The panel will ask you questions but will also give you space to say what you have prepared. Students are always given the chance to let the panel know if they have any mitigating or extenuating circumstances which could explain their actions. If they are accepted by the panel (who will need evidence) their circumstances will not excuse the misconduct, but may be taken into account when the panel is making their decision. Following questions, the chair will then outline the possible sanctions and next steps. The outcomes available to the panel are:

  • Deduct 10 percentage marks from your work (i.e. 56% reduces to 46%)
  • Cap the mark at a minimum pass (40%)
  • Award a mark of zero for the assessment (component of module affected)
  • Award a mark of zero for the module overall
  • In serious cases, the decision may be referred to the Senior Vice Principal or their nominee for a decision.

The panel meeting will last around 20 minutes. Following this, they will send you a copy of the meeting minutes and ask you to confirm if you agree that the minutes are correct. Once you have sent your response back, you will be given an outcome via email in around seven days.

APPEALING THE DECISION

You do have the right to appeal the outcome within a limited time-frame on certain grounds. See the academic advice pages of our website for more information on what you can and can’t appeal and how you submit this. If you need help with an appeal, get in touch with us at advice@su.rhul.ac.uk to speak to an advisor.

WHAT RESOURCES ARE AVAILABLE TO HELP ME UNDERSTAND academic misconduct?

Your academic department should talk you through Turnitin and plagiarism as part of your first year studies to ensure you understand how Turnitin works and how you can avoid plagiarism.

You should be automatically enrolled on an ‘Avoiding Plagiarism’ module on Moodle which we advise you complete to understand plagiarism in relation to university academic assignments.

For advice on understanding referencing, you can either contact CEDAS who are able to help you with academic writing, or the Library who have resources on referencing and also run sessions for you to attend with your Subject Librarian.

Misconduct allegations are not to be taken lightly and can only be considered minor if you are a first year student; after that it is automatically considered to be a major offence as you are deemed to know what constitutes good academic practice and should know how to reference adequately by your second year.

A record of academic misconduct is kept on your student record and repeat offences can result in a referral to the Vice Principal and in some cases, termination of registration.

You can find out more about the academic misconduct regulations and possible penalties here.

In the meantime, if you have any concerns or questions about plagiarism or other academic misconducts please get in touch with your personal tutor, course leader or the Advice Centre.