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Faculty Training Programme
Appendix 3 - A Plagiarism Framework
Our commitment, Approach and Procedures for Promoting Good Academic Practices
(Revised verstion of 2013, for implementation from 1 October 2014)
Section 1: Commitments and Responsibilities
Plagiarism involves the unacknowledged use of someone else’s work and passing it off as if it were one’s own. This may occur for many reasons. For example, the University recognises that students may submit plagiarised work because of poorly developed study skills, and that some students, particularly those from different cultures and educational systems, may find UK academic referencing/acknowledgement systems and conventions unfamiliar.
However, some students do plagiarise deliberately, sometimes because they are unable or unwilling to do the required work, and with the intent to deceive and gain academic benefit. This is a conscious, pre-mediated form of cheating and is regarded as a serious breach of the core values of the University and damaging to the reputation of the University and its programmes.
This Plagiarism Framework explains how the issues of plagiarism are to be handled at Lancaster University and defines how possible cases of plagiarism will be dealt with under the terms of the University Rules, and the institutional procedures by which this will be done.
This framework applies equally to all assessments submitted by students for examination by the University in all academic taught programmes (UG and PGT).
Plagiarism as an offence
Lancaster University is committed to:
In support of these commitments plagiarism is understood to include, in whatever format it is presented, including written work, online submissions, groupwork or oral presentations, the following:
Where any of the above occur then in consideration of that case due account will be taken of such things as the level of intent, the proportion of assessment affected and any previous offences of the same kind.
Lancaster University recognises that preventing plagiarism is of at least equal importance to dealing with cases that are detected, and will therefore develop, periodically review and improve:
The informing and education of students:
The informing, development and support of teaching
The primary responsibility for detecting plagiarism in student work rests with the individual marker, who must always use their specialist knowledge and academic judgement in deciding what is and what is not acceptable within their subject. For example, in many subjects it is difficult to decide what is common knowledge and what should be attributed to sources, which is where the marker’s expert judgement is exercised.
Where a marker is uncertain of whether plagiarism or poor academic practice has occurred or how to deal with it then they should be able seek the advice or a more experienced colleague, their Head of Department or the Academic Officer for the department or equivalent unit.
Assessment by non-university staff
Where student work is assessed by anyone other than a member of Lancaster University academic staff eg by external teachers or Graduate Teaching Assistants, then there must be a nominated staff member with responsibility for the assessment procedures , including moderating the assessments in respect to plagiarism. This will by default be a nominated module convenor or in their absence the Head of Department.
Use of software
Markers may use software such as Turnitin to assist in their responsibility to detect plagiarism but should be aware of the limitations of such software, the care needed in interpreting reports and understand that use of such software does not replace the need to employ their own knowledge and academic judgement.
Where the administrative staff of a department or programme passes submitted student work through such software, either separately or as part of electronic submission via a Virtual Learning Environment, then this is done to assist the academic processes, not to replace any part of them. It remains the responsibility of the marker, not the administrative staff, to review and interpret the results.
Roles and Responsibilities
Each academic marker identified as such by a department or equivalent shall be responsible for (in addition to the expected award of appropriate credit and feedback for the assignment) identifying poor academic practices or plagiarism in assessed work and dealing with this in the appropriate way (as detailed below).
Each department or equivalent shall designate one senior academic member of staff, to be known as the Academic Officer, who shall when required take responsibility for the investigation of and subsequent action for plagiarism in coursework at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
LU Students’ Union
Standing Academic Committee
The Standing Academic Committee of the Senate shall hear cases referred by the Academic Officer or where a student appeals a decision taken by the Department. Meetings of the Standing Academic Committee will be conducted as detailed in the University Rules. At such meetings in respect to suspected plagiarism the Academic Officer will normally be accompanied by the Academic Marker or person responsible for the degree scheme for which the student is registered. The Academic Officer will normally present first the evidence at the hearing.
The Academic Officer and student will have equal rights to question or challenge evidence presented.
Section 2: Procedures and Outcomes
The following procedures shall be followed for all cases of suspected plagiarism or other form of academic malpractice in coursework in any Lancaster University taught programme (UG and PGT). The steps may be concluded at any point in the procedures.
It is part of the normal academic responsibilities of academic markers to be aware of and alert to all forms of academic malpractice, including plagiarism. All academic markers should follow departmental procedures for assessment or ensure that they have followed alternative procedures that are justifiable to the External Examiners of that module.
Academic markers should, if they suspect plagiarism or some other form of academic malpractice has occurred, use their judgement to:-
Decide that plagiarism has occurred because of poor study skills and there has been no attempt to gain unfair advantage.
In this case the marker should:
Decide that the quantity of the plagiarised text is too great to be dealt with by setting the text aside or that there is suspicion of some form of academic malpractice.
The Academic Officer shall, when a case of suspected plagiarism or academic malpractice has been passed to them use their academic judgement and experience to decide that:
The case is one that would normally be dealt with by the Academic Marker and not warranting further investigation or a Hearing.
In this case the Academic Officer should:
The case is one that warrants further investigation and a Hearing.
Hearings by the Academic Officer
When an Academic Officer decides that a case should be investigated and discussed at a Hearing then they should:
Attending at the Hearing will be:
The student will be asked to respond to the allegations regarding their work and may also wish to consider if there are any mitigating circumstances which should be made known to the Academic Officer. The Academic Officer may ask the academic marker or course convener to present evidence. After the hearing all the evidence the Academic Officer shall decide on appropriate action.
The student will be formally informed of the decision and outcomes of the Hearing within three working days, though an informal communication of the outcomes may be given sooner.
Possible Outcomes of a Hearing by an Academic Officer
The Academic Officer may decide that either
There has been plagiarism but due to poor study practices and instruct the Academic Marker to mark the work on that basis.
There has been a plagiarism offence or some other form of academic malpractice.
Where a plagiarism offence or academic malpractice has occurred
Where multiple offences are discovered, after the Senate Deadline (or PG equivalent), the case shall be referred to the Standing Academic Committee.
If the student does not accept the decision of the Academic Officer, he/she shall have the right to appeal it to the Standing Academic Committee, at which he/she will have the right to be heard, accompanied by a representative if desired.
The Standing Academic Committee
Where the Academic Officer refers a major offence, or where the student appeals a decision of the Academic Officer, to the Standing Academic Committee that body, having conducted a hearing with the student present (accompanied by a representative if desired) may, if it decided that a major offence has been committed by the student, impose one of the following penalties:-
If the Standing Academic Committee confirms an offence, the student shall have the right of appeal to the Vice-Chancellor under Statute 21.
The Standing Academic Committee should consider the full impact of their decision for the future career opportunities of the student concerned.
Notification and support
Where plagiarism has been discovered in a group project, wherever possible the individual(s) responsible for the plagiarized sections will be identified and treated in the normal manner. If it is not possible to identify individuals responsible, the case will be treated as a serious offence and whatever penalty is imposed will apply in full and equally to all members of the group.
Retrospective work is defined as any work that has been subject to final moderation and/or approval by an Examination Board.
The University reserves the right to review work retrospectively, and apply appropriate sanctions, if there are reasonable grounds for doing so. Where there are reasonable grounds, an Academic Officer should instigate a retrospective review, requiring the student to re-submit assessed work and referring the matter to the Standing Academic Committee with a recommended sanction where appropriate. The Standing Academic Committee can also request the retrospective review of any work in relation to cases referred to it. The existing University Charter allows for it to rescind or change the classification of a degree after one has been awarded.
Exam Boards may not revisit decisions and or change the penalties already applied after a case has been heard by either a Hearing conducted by an Academic Officer or considered by Standing Academic Committee.
The decisions and recommendations of the Final Exam Board of any year of academic study will normally be regarded as the cut-off point beyond which allegations of plagiarism will not be considered.
Right of appeal
If the student does not accept the decision of the academic marker they should ask for a review by the Academic Officer.
If the student does not accept the decision of the Academic Officer they can opt to appear before the Standing Academic Committee.
In all cases the student has a statutory right of appeal under Statute 21.
Reporting of study histories
Each department will have discretion to decide whether any part of the student’s Academic Practice and Support record should be mentioned if a request is received (particularly from another University or a professional body) for an academic reference for a Lancaster graduate, or whether to report any part of such record to professional bodies.
Amnesty on graduating
Any Lancaster graduate, who subsequently registers for any further studies at Lancaster, shall begin those studies with a clear record of Academic Practice and Support for equity of treatment with other postgraduate students from elsewhere.
MALPRACTICE IN UNDERGRADUATE AND POSTGRADUATE EXAMINATIONS AND COURSEWORK
These regulations also form Appendix two of the Examination Regulations of the University and the appendix to Ordinance 7.
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