plagiarism and collusion - 2021/22
A. STATEMENT OF POLICY
Revised 19 August 2020
1.1 The University of East Anglia expects that all its members, both staff and students, adhere to the principles of Academic Integrity defined as a commitment to the values of honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage1. Failure to adhere to these principles may result in academic misconduct if an individual gains either for themselves or another person an unfair or unjustified academic advantage.
1.2 All students complete an online declaration, as a condition of becoming a student at UEA, to agree that their work is their own, that there is no unacknowledged use of another person’s work, that there has been no unauthorised cooperation between them and another person in the preparation and production of their work. This policy covers those forms of academic deception referred to as “plagiarism” and “collusion” including “contract cheating”.
1.3 The University takes allegations of plagiarism and collusion extremely seriously since such acts:
• threaten the credibility, integrity and standards of the University’s awards if students gain credit for work which is not their own;
• cast doubt on a student’s commitment and responsibility to their learning as well as their personal integrity;
• represent an unfair advantage over those students who do not plagiarise or collude.
1.4 Suspected plagiarism, collusion or contract cheating, at any point of a student’s course, or whether discovered before or after graduation, will be investigated and dealt with appropriately and proportionately by the University.
1.5 Any breach in in academic integrity is treated as misconduct. Where misconduct relating to plagiarism and collusion has been established, the student may be penalised. The most serious cases can result in referral to the Senate Student Discipline Committee (SSDC) where disciplinary actions may result in the student failing their degree, temporary suspension or permanent exclusion from the University.
In cases where plagiarism, collusion or contract cheating has been discovered after graduation, the Senate has the authority to reduce the classification of a conferred Degree, or to revoke a Degree, Diploma or Certificate or other distinction conferred by the University.
1.6 Section A of this policy applies to all students registered at the University. Section B Procedures for Dealing with Suspected Cases of Plagiarism and Collusion applies to all students on undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes and to the taught components of professional doctorates.
1.7 Matters of plagiarism, collusion or contract cheating relating to the research work of a postgraduate research degree candidate or graduate should be brought to the attention of the Head of Postgraduate Research Service and will be handled under the Procedures for Investigation with Allegations of Research Misconduct Made against Students (available within the University's General Regulations)
 The Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity (2014), International Centre for Academic Integrity. https://www.academicintegrity.org/fundamental-values/
2.1 The principles and values of Academic Integrity entail using, generating and communicating materials in an ethical, honest and accountable manner. With respect to student assessments, submitted work is received on the understanding that it represents the student’s own intellectual efforts and understanding, without any form of falsification or fabrication.
This means if the ideas used in a student’s work are not their own, they must reference the sources they have used.
2.2.1 Plagiarism occurs when one of the following has occurred in a student’s assessed work:
a. Use of words, ideas, or any other type of work produced (see 2.2.2 for other work included) but without attributing another person or source from which it was obtained;
b. Does not attribute other work they have previously produced for the purposes of summative assessment or publication. This refers to “self plagiarism” but does not apply to undergraduate or taught postgraduate work not submitted for credit or to formative assessment for all students.2
c. Where the individual obtains some form of academic benefit, credit, or gain.3
*Based on Teddi Fishman (2009), “‘We know it when we see it’ is not good enough: Toward a standard definition of plagiarism that transcends theft, fraud, and copyright” in Proceedings of the Fourth Asia Pacific Conference on Educational Integrity (4APCEI), 28-30th September, 2009, University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia.
2.2.2 The definition covers all assessment types and all forms of attributable intellectual property (published or not) including, but not limited to, words scientific formulae, program code, music, research data, tables, graphs, diagrams, images, web content and audio-visual resources as well as ideas and concepts. The sources may include, but are not confined to, books, articles, theses, working and conference papers, posters internal reports, plans or designs, a student’s own previously published or assessed work, and teaching materials (e.g. lecture slides or handouts).
2.2.3 The definition does not make reference to the motivation or intent of the student and so, includes accidental plagiarism, for example due to poor academic practice arising from a lack of understanding of what constitutes the intellectual property of others as well as the appropriate means of acknowledging or referencing it. Intention only becomes an issue in determining the seriousness of the plagiarism with respect to any penalties to be applied (see Section B, Paragraph 5 of Procedures for Dealing with Suspected Cases of Plagiarism, and/or Collusion and Contract Cheating).
i) deciding whether plagiarism has occurred follows consideration of whether the source of the work has been appropriately cited;
ii) it does not take account of the reason why plagiarism has occurred or the intent of the student, that is, whether it was deliberate or poor academic practice;
iii) factors such as motivation or intent to deceive should be taken into account when considering any penalties.
2.3.1 Collusion is unauthorised cooperation by a student and at least one other person in the production of submitted work.
2.3.2 Plagiarism is a private, individual action, but collusion is a social interaction involving the student and other parties (students or otherwise) working together in an unauthorised manner.
Collusion occurs when, with respect to an assessment:
a) A student interacts with others (student or otherwise) in the completion of the assessment task and where the nature and/or extent of the interaction is not authorised (either implicitly or explicitly) for that task, and
b) The situation is such that there is a legitimate or reasonable expectation that students should understand that such interactions are not acceptable.
2.3.3 Collusion is sometimes difficult to distinguish from legitimate collaboration (e.g. group work).4
2.3.4 Some actions may be considered as either plagiarism or collusion: a student copying another’s work with permission is an example of both. For plagiarism only the submitting student has committed an offence, whilst for collusion both are guilty of misconduct. Care needs to be taken in deciding the form of the offence.
There is a significant difference between collaboration, where students work together to produce work or looking at someone else’s work with their knowledge and using someone else’s work or ideas without their knowledge or without referencing this in their work.
2.4 Contract Cheating
2.4.1 Contract cheating occurs when the student’s submitted assessment has been completed for them partially or wholly by a third party. The third party can range from friends and family, fellow students or academic members of staff to commercial providers, sometimes referred to as “essay mills” although such “services” typically supply more than just essays. Contract cheating includes both paid and unpaid outsourcing.
2.4.2 Although contract cheating can be viewed as a form of collusion, the University treats it as a distinct and especially serious form of misconduct since engaging a third party to complete the student’s work can only be a deliberate, intentional action.
2.5 Online Examinations
In addition to understanding that plagiarism, collusion and contract cheating constitute misconduct students are required to familiarise themselves with the expected behaviour required in examinations (see General Regulation 20.1 and 20.2 of the University’s General Regulations for Students).
 Although non-credit bearing assessments are not covered by the Policy, failure to comply with a-c may still be considered unacceptable or inappropriate academic practice and necessitate some form of information intervention.
 Based on Teddi Fishman (2009), “‘We know it when we see it’ is not good enough: Toward a standard definition of plagiarism that transcends theft, fraud, and copyright” in Proceedings of the Fourth Asia Pacific Conference on Educational Integrity (4APCEI), 28-30th September, 2009, University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia.
3. Student Obligations
3.1 On registering at UEA all students are expected to abide by the principles of Academic Integrity defined as a commitment to the values of honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage.
3.2 With respect to academic assessment the student should understand why plagiarism and collusion run counter to the principles of Academic Integrity.5
3.3 Student are expected to familiarise themselves with and ensure that they understand the nature of plagiarism and collusion as outlined in this Policy and the University Student Handbook for Taught Programmes for undergraduate and taught postgraduate students or the Code of Practice for Research Degrees for postgraduate research students.
3.3 Students are expected to attend all timetabled induction sessions relating to plagiarism and collusion. They should also familiarise themselves with any discipline-specific conventions (e.g. referencing methods). If there are any issues of understanding, it is the student’s responsibility to seek clarification as soon as possible.
3.4 Where an induction session relating to plagiarism and collusion has been missed, it will be assumed by the University that the student has made every effort to catch up on the covered content as soon as possible and that subsequent claims of ignorance or misunderstanding will not be accepted.
3.5 The student should understand that there are no mitigating factors which may excuse plagiarism or collusion. There is always a legitimate alternative to academic deception such as a formal request for an extension, seeking advice from the Module Organiser or the student’s Academic Adviser or Supervisor, seeking support from Student Services and/or Learning Enhancement Team, or applying for an interruption to studies.
4. Use of Text-Matching Software to Detect Plagiarism
4.1 University approved text-matching software (software that searches submitted work for matches against text contained in its databases) may be used for students taking undergraduate modules, postgraduate modules or the taught component of professional doctorates for all elements of assessment. The University recognises that such software does not, of itself, detect plagiarism but only produces a “similarity” report which indicates all the matches in the submitted text to any materials within the database. The similarity information requires careful interpretation since appropriately referenced texts will be highlighted alongside potentially plagiarised materials.
4.2 Schools shall:
4.2.1 appoint a University approved text-matching software specialist (a member of academic staff who shall be familiar with the use of approved text-matching software and the interpretation of its reports);
4.2.2 in the case on online examinations, make use of the automated batch processing service;
4.2.3 monitor its use for equality impact assessment.
4.3 University approved text-matching software may not be used for the purposes of screening any parts of the thesis or research work of postgraduate research students except where this is explicitly approved via a concession request submitted via the Postgraduate Research Service to the Academic Director of UEA Doctoral college, for example in certain cases of alleged misconduct in research.
4.4 Schools may submit module batches into the University approved text-matching software. Where Schools elect to use the University’s approved text-matching software in this way to screen student submissions, they shall ensure that:
4.4.1 Students are informed in advance of the assessments that will be subject to batch screening using the University’s approved text-matching software;
4.4.2 An originality report is generated for all student submissions for the assessment in question, not just a sample of students from the cohort;
4.4.3 Staff involved in marking assessments which are subject to batch screening should access the training provided in the use of the University approved text-matching software.
4.5 In cases where assessments are subject to batch screening, students on the module in question shall:
4.5.1 have access to the use of the University approved text-matching software so that they can generate an originality report on a draft of their assessment prior to the submission deadline;
4.5.2 be provided with training by the staff members who have access to the system on how to access the University approved test-matching software, how to generate an originality report of their draft submissions prior to the submission deadline and how to interpret and act on the information contained in the originality report;
4.5.3 have access to online guidance resources that address section 4.5.2.
B. Procedures for dealing with suspected cases of plagiarism and/or collusion OR CONTRACT CHEATING
1. Plagiarism Officer
The Head of each School shall appoint a Plagiarism Officer (who shall not be the Head of School) who is responsible for investigation into cases of suspected plagiarism and/or collusion in accordance with paragraphs 3, 4 and 5 below. The Plagiarism Officer shall consider alleged offences committed by students enrolled on the module(s) offered by the Plagiarism Officer’s School.
2. Collection of Evidence
i. If a marker suspects plagiarism and/or collusion or contract cheating, they will continue to mark the work as if not plagiarised, keeping a separate copy of the annotated work as evidence.
ii. All online examination submissions will be automatically checked by text matching software that will detect any similarity between different students’ submissions and to detect similarity with web based sources.
iii. Where a marker believes that plagiarism, collusion or contract cheating may have occurred they will advise their School Plagiarism Officer
iv. The marker will gather the necessary evidence to allow the Plagiarism Officer to decide whether an investigative meeting with the student is required. Wherever possible or appropriate, the main evidence for plagiarism and/or collusion will be the original sources(s) that has/have been drawn on/copied from, with the similarity report for exams.
v. In cases identified as Medium or High Level, the Plagiarism Officer may collect other work completed by the student, whether produced for modules located in their own School or produced for modules delivered by other Schools, and may seek help from the relevant School University approved text matching software specialist.
vi. Where an allegation of plagiarism and/or collusion concerns a module not in a School in which the student is registered, the Plagiarism Officer of the School ‘owning’ the module shall deal with the allegation and, during the investigation, will liaise with the Plagiarism Officer in the School in which the student is registered.
vii. Subsequently, the Plagiarism Officer in the School in which the module(s) is/are located, will arrange an investigative meeting with the student
viii. If a marker suspects plagiarism and/or collusion but is unable to identify the original sources, they should collect what evidence is available and present it to the Plagiarism Officer, who will decide if there is a case for plagiarism and/or collusion which would warrant an investigative meeting to discuss possible Plagiarism or Collusion
ix. If a University approved text matching software report has been used as evidence to show that plagiarism and/or collusion has been committed, then this should be referenced within the Plagiarism Officer’s report and should form part of the documentation for the investigative meeting.
3. Initial screening of evidence
i. The Plagiarism Officer shall review the evidence as presented by the marker or Module Organiser and classify as being of Low, Medium or High Level.
ii. For cases classified as Low Level, the Plagiarism Officer will proceed as stated in paragraph 5.2.1 below and may recommend an action plan setting out an appropriate learning package without having a formal investigative meeting
iii. In all other cases, a formal investigative meeting should be held.
4. School Plagiarism/Collusion Investigative Meetings
i. Where an investigative meeting to determine whether plagiarism or collusion has taken place is considered necessary, the student will be required to attend, in person or virtually, to discuss the alleged plagiarism and/or collusion, which may also include other work being re-called as set out in paragraph 2. The investigative meeting an be held in two modes; In Mode 1 the marker and School Plagiarism Officer are present and in mode 2 a second Plagiarism Officer from antoher School is additionally present.6
ii. The meeting shall be chaired by the School Plagiarism Officer. If the School Plagiarism Officer is also the Module Organiser/internal marker, then the Deputy Plagiarism Officer (where a School has made such an appointment) or a Plagiarism Officer from another School will act as Chair.
iii. The meeting will normally be arranged by a member of LTS or PGR staff who shall act as secretary to the meeting. They shall normally be a senior member of administrative staff in the relevant office.
iv. The student will be provided with a copy of the annotated work and the University approved text matching software report, if appropriate.
v. The student will also be advised to have with them or provide any supporting evidence to assist with the investigation including anything relating to any mitigating circumstances. The meeting request shall be e-mailed to the student at least five working days (not including Saturdays, Sundays and University closure days) before the meeting.
vi. The marker and others in the meeting may ask a series of questions to examine the student’s understanding of the subject matter of the work they have submitted. The role of the Plagiarism Officer is to determine from the answers given by the student whether, on the balance of probabilities, the student has plagiarised or colluded.
vii. The student should make every effort to attend the meeting either virtually or in person, but it may be rearranged if the student can demonstrate they have good reason for it to be rescheduled. If a student fails to attend the meeting without providing good reason, the meeting shall proceed in their absence.
viii. The student may, if they wish, have an accompanying person in attendance, who shall not take an active part in the proceedings. In all cases, the student themselves shall answer any questions raised in the meeting. The accompanying person shall not be a member of UEA academic staff. If, in the opinion of the Panel, the accompanying person is, or appears to be, interfering with the proper conduct of the business of the meeting, the Panel has the right to i) adjourn the meeting and reconvene it at a later date, and ii) exclude that person from attending the reconvened meeting.
xi. A record of the meeting shall be taken by the secretary to the meeting
The meeting shall proceed in the following order:
a. the marker who has initially raised the suspicion of plagiarism/collusion presents their concerns. The marker may ask a series of questions to test the student’s knowledge of the subject matter in their assignment;
b. the School Plagiarism Officer shall then provide the student with an opportunity to respond to the concerns of the marker;
c. the marker and Plagiarism Officer(s) may ask further questions;
d. the School Plagiarism Officer shall advise the student that, where plagiarism/collusion is denied but the outcome of the meeting is that it has been judged to have taken place, the case shall be referred to a Senate Student Discipline Committee Panel and the student will be able to present their case at that time;
e. the School Plagiarism Officer shall ask the student if there are any mitigating circumstances that they would like to raise in the meeting. In cases where the Plagiarism Officer is aware of mitigating circumstances these should be taken into consideration when determining an outcome.
f. the marker, student and accompanying person shall then leave the meeting;
g. where the meeting is held in mode 2 the Plagiarism Officers shall decide on the suitable outcome using the grid below to assist with decision making.
h. Where the meeting is held in mode 1, after the meeting the School Plagiarism Officer will then consult a Plagiarism Officer from another School outlining the facts of the case and the basis on which they are reaching their decision , to agree that the rationale being taken is appropriate and to confirm that the resulting outcome is appropriate;
i. where there is a difference of opinion between the two Plagiarism Officers a third Plagiarism Officer from another School will be asked to help reach an agreed outcome
j. the student shall be advised of the outcome of the meeting in writing normally within five working days;
k. the student can reconsider their plea within five working days of the formal meeting;
l. the Head of School shall be advised of the outcome.
 The availability of a second Plagiarism Officer will determine whether the meeting is held in mode 1 or 2 since the meetings must be held as soon as possible after the School Plagiarism Officer has determined that an investigative meeting is required.
5.1 In the event that the student admits plagiarism or collusion, the Panel shall determine the seriousness of the offence, any mitigation presented by the student, and classify it as a Low Level, Medium Level or High Level offence using the grid below as guidance. When making a judgement on the level of the offence, the Panel shall apply the principle of “balance of probability”, weighing-up all the evidence and reaching a judgement on what was the most probable scenario to allow classification of the plagiarism/collusion offence to be set at the appropriate level.
Plagiarism/Collusion Classification Guide
Extent of plagiarism or collusion
Intent of student to deceive
Nature of plagiarism or collusion
Absence of appropriate attribution.
The sharing of work or content in the knowledge that it will be copied;
In cases where the Panel is aware of any mitigating circumstances which should be taken into consideration before the outcome of the Plagiarism/Collusion meeting is conveyed in writing to the student, the School Plagiarism Officer should bring these to the attention of the Head of the School. Where a Head of School (or Head of School designate) believes that the mitigating circumstances should reduce the level of an offence from High Level to Medium Level or from Medium Level to Low Level, the Chair of the SSDC should be consulted for a view to ensure consistency of practice across UEA.
5.2 After classification of the offence, the following outcomes should apply:
5.2.1 LOW LEVEL (technical breach to be dealt with educatively)
The Plagiarism Officer shall not impose a marks penalty and the student will receive a mark for the work excluding that which has been identified as plagiarism or collusion. In order to help the student avoid plagiarism and/or collusion in future assignments, the student shall be offered support which may be in the form of an action plan and/or appropriate learning support package. A copy of the action plan/learning package shall be retained for the duration of the student’s period of registration on the student’s file in the appropriate Office within LTS or PGR.
5.2.2 MEDIUM LEVEL
This applies to any incident of plagiarism which occurs at a point where the University is confident that the student has received sufficient Plagiarism and Collusion training. The marker shall record a mark for a summative item of assessment which assesses the work as far as possible excluding the plagiarised material. This ensures that the recorded mark reflects the student’s own work.
Plagiarism in formative work: no marks deduction is possible for a formative item of assessment, the offence should be recorded as a Medium Level plagiarism offence for future reference.
Plagiarism in work where the mark is pass fail: the work will be assessed using only the non-plagiarised sections and a mark of pass or fail shall be recorded accordingly.
(b) Collusion (summative and formative work):
(i) Summative work
Where two or more students have worked together and it is impossible to determine who has produced the work, the pieces of work will be marked as they stand and the highest mark of those awarded will be divided equally among the number of students deemed to have colluded.
If, however, it is clear that one of the students has produced most/all of the work and lent it to the others, the Plagiarism Officer shall record marks to take account of the effort put in by the student who produced the work, and the lack of effort from the other students who colluded.
(ii) Formative work
If possible, determine which student has produced which proportion of the work, note the proportion of work attributable to each student and record this as a Medium Level collusion offence for future reference.
5.2.3 HIGH LEVEL
(a) Serial plagiarism or collusion
This applies to any incident of plagiarism and/or collusion which occurs at a point where the University is confident that the student has received sufficient Plagiarism and Collusion training.
(i) Summative work only
Where a High Level offence is judged to be the result of serial plagiarism and/or collusion, i.e. there have been previous instances of Medium Level plagiarism and/or collusion the work should be given a mark and the offence should not be recorded as high level for both formative and summative work.
(ii) Formative and summative work
A formal judgement of serial plagiarism cannot result from previous work being identified as plagiarised without plagiarism in this work having been drawn formally to the student’s attention either via the procedure as stipulated under paragraph 3 of this policy or via a formal School Plagiarism/Collusion Meeting (i.e. serial plagiarism cannot result from work having been recalled in accordance with paragraph 2 but in which plagiarism had not been identified at the time). An example of a serial offence being classed as a High Level offence will normally be at least three previous occasions of Medium Level offences relating to formative and/or summative work, all of which would need to have been formally drawn to the student’s attention via a School Plagiarism/Collusion meeting.
(b) High Level – not serial plagiarism or collusion
Where the offence is serious and has been identified as a High Level offence but there is no evidence of serial plagiarism/collusion committed by the student, the Plagiarism Officer shall not record a mark for summative work but record the offence as a High level offence for both summative and formative work.
(c) Disciplinary action
After identifying a High Level offence as described under paragraphs 5.2.3(a) or 5.2.3(b) above, the Head of School in which the student is registered shall refer the case to the Senate Student Discipline Committee for further action, regardless of whether the work is of a summative or formative nature. The outcomes of Senate Student Disciplinary Committee considerations will be final.
(d) Fitness to Practise Panel
Where programmes lead to professional qualifications, a Head of School in which a student is registered may refer a student with a confirmed High Level offence to a Fitness to Practise Panel. This will happen prior to consideration of a referral to a Senate Student Discipline Committee
5.3 When determining the outcome following a Plagiarism/Collusion investigative meeting, the Plagiarism Officer may decide that the student’s work completed within the Stage should be recalled. If plagiarism or collusion is detected in any recalled work and a high level outcome is determined, this work shall also be submitted to the Senate Student Discipline Committee.
5.4 The documentation relating to (i) the record of the investigative meeting, (ii) the assessed work in question, (iii) the Plagiarism Officer’s findings and (iv) for summative work, the mark recorded by the Plagiarism Officer, shall be retained on the student’s file in the appropriate Office within LTS or PGR (this shall be the case even where a student is found not to have plagiarised or colluded).
5.5 The student will be given a copy of the documentation relating to (i)–(iv) above. The secretary of the investigative meeting shall also send copies of the documentation referred to in (iii) and (iv) above to the Head of School in which the student is registered
5.6 The secretary to the investigative meeting shall ensure that, for summative work, the correct mark is recorded for the student to be forwarded for confirmation to the relevant Board of Examiners. The Board of Examiners may be made aware by the Chair of the Board of any marks recorded reflecting plagiarism and/or collusion. It is, however, the responsibility of the Chair of the Board of Examiners to ensure that any decisions on progression, classification or the award of academic qualifications are not further influenced by a student having plagiarised and/or colluded.
In the event that a student denies that they have engaged in plagiarism, collusion or contract cheating after a Medium or High Level case of plagiarism or collusion has been identified by the School Plagiarism Officer, the case is referred to the Senate Student Discipline Committee.
A student may appeal against a penalty (i.e. the level and consequences) applied under paragraph 5.2 except where they have been referred to the Senate Student Discipline Committee (4.1 (v) of the Academic Appeals and Complaints Regulations refers) and should do so in writing to the Head of LTS for taught students and the Head of PGR Service for research students within ten working days of the notification of the outcome, setting out the grounds for the appeal.
The appeal shall be heard at Stage 1 of the Academic Appeals and Complaints Procedure.
Postgraduate Research students can find the Postgraduate Research Appeals and Complaints procedures within the UEA Portal (login required)
8. Reporting Plagiarism
School Plagiarism Officers shall complete an annual report to the Learning and Teaching Committee of Senate which should include information on referrals made to them, investigative meetings held, outcomes, and equality monitoring data.