Academic Misconduct covers many things including plagiarism/self-plagiarism, cheating in exams, falsifying research data and collusion.
I've been accused of Academic Misconduct: what should I do?
The University has recently temporarily amended how they operate the Academic Misconduct process. It is not clear whether this is a permanent change, as the Academic Conduct Regulation itself has not been amended. Therefore, our guidance leaflet refers to the processes outlined in the existing Academic Conduct Regulation.
Preparing an Academic Conduct Panel Statement
Guide to Academic Conduct Procedure
However, below we explain how the processes are operating at the moment.
I've received an allegation of Academic Misconduct
If you receive a letter with an allegation of Academic Misconduct, you will be asked to complete and return a 'Response to Allegations form'. Your response will then be considered without you attending the Academic Conduct Panel that will make a decision about your case. Our guide to preparing an Academic Conduct Panel statement remains a good guide to completing your response form.
Whether you accept or reject the allegation against you, we would strongly recommend that you provide a written submission ahead of the panel meeting. If you do not do so, the panel will decide on whether the allegation is proven or not and what sanction they deem appropriate based on the evidence that you have been sent by the University, without your response to this.
Our service can advise you on your situation and help you with preparing your response.
Note: the letter will give you the option to accept the allegation. If you are considering doing this, we strongly recommend that you seek advice from our service first, to discuss your situation and your options.
We would always advise students to be completely honest with the panel when there is an allegation of wrongdoing, as from our experience this leads to the best possible outcome. The University will also want you to reflect on what’s happened, accept any wrongdoing, express sincere remorse and explain what you would do differently to ensure this doesn’t happen again in the future. If extenuating circumstances affected you at the time, you can also explain these and how they affected you and provide evidence of the circumstances. The University will not excuse misconduct because you were experiencing difficult circumstances at the time - however, explaining what was going on for you can help the University understand your perspective and the mitigating circumstances can be taken into account in relation to the sanction given.
What if I disagree with the allegation?
If you disagree with the allegation, look at the evidence that has been provided with the allegation and think about why the University has come to that conclusion and how can you clarify matters? Can you confidently explain and demonstrate how you did the work and that their conclusions are not correct?
Based on the statement and evidence you submit, the panel will come to a decision regarding the allegation and you will be informed of the decision and any sanction that has been decided upon withing five working days of the panel taking place.
Once you have received the sanction you then have the option to either accept or reject this, and the outcome letter you receive should explain how to do so and any time limits applied to this.
If you are unsure of what your outcome means or the impact of any sanction and would like to discuss your options in terms of accepting or rejecting the decision, then please do contact us as soon as possible and we will try to help clarify this and support you through any next steps.
If you reject the sanction, you can choose to revert to the normal Academic Misconduct procedure and a full Academic Conduct Panel (ACP) will be convened. However, we are aware of instances where the ACP meeting has not been run according to the published procedure. If this happens, please contact us to let us know and to seek further advice. Please see our guide on this webpage, and the Academic Conduct Regulation, for more information about what should happen at an ACP meeting and how to prepare.
If you request a full ACP, you should always try to attend the panel meeting. If you really can't attend, you should let the University know and should submit a statement in advance (if you have anything further to add to your original response form). Otherwise a decision will be made in your absence and your voice won't be heard. In some cases, a member of our team may be able to attend the meeting with you.
Please note, if you have been invited to attend a meeting to answer questions about your work because concerns have been raised, but this is not called an Academic Concern Meeting or Academic Conduct Panel, it is best to get advice and help preparing for such a meeting as soon as you receive the invitation. This is because it is possible that the content and outcome of this initial meeting may be used later within the academic misconduct process.
There are two types of meeting relating to issues of academic conduct
Academic Concern Meeting
This meeting is normally for students in their first year of study at the university. It involves allegations of poor academic practice such as a lack of understanding of academic protocols and referencing. Your Course Leader (or a nominee) and a Secretary from Registry Services will attend. The Module Leader or marker may also be there. There will be a written record of the meeting. You will be asked to answer to the concern which has been raised about your work. It is advisable to take with you any notes which you used in the preparation and production of your piece of work.
- No further action will be taken
- A Notice to Improve will be issued; this will remain on your file for the rest of your course. It will not be referred to in any reference requests. It will be taken into consideration in any future allegations. You will be given information on how to address the concerns that have been raised. Your assessment will be given a mark, based on the academic merit of the work that is original content
- The allegation is referred to an Academic Conduct Panel (see below).
Academic Conduct Panel meeting
This meeting is for more serious allegations and for students who are not new to study. The Panel should consist of at least two members of staff; a Chair and at least one member of academic staff (NB: there are some changes to the processes currently, including the make-up of panels). None of the staff on your panel should have had any involvement in the assessment or be your tutor. There will also be the Presenter, the staff member who made the allegation. There will be a written record of the meeting.
The Presenter will outline the facts and evidence which has led them to the allegation. You will then be able to present your response to these. You can also read out your statement and/or hand it in.
An adviser from the Students' Union Advice Service can accompany you to an Academic Conduct Panel meeting (depending on availability).
- No further action will be taken
- A Notice to Improve will be issued; ;this will remain on your file for the rest of your course. It will not be referred to in any reference requests. It will be taken into consideration in any future allegations. You will be given information on how to address the concerns that have been raised. Your assessment will be given a mark, based on the academic merit of the work that is original content
- A sanction will be applied. If the panel concludes that your behaviour constitutes academic misconduct or severe academic misconduct, a sanction will be applied. The University can impose a range of sanctions against you, some of which may mean that you cannot continue with the course. The full list of sanctions can be found in the University's Academic Conduct Regulation.
The University will not excuse misconduct because you were experiencing difficult circumstances at the time - however, explaining what was going on for you can help the University understand your perspective and the mitigating circumstances can be taken into account in relation to the sanction given.
For more detailed information, read the University's regulations.