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Plagiarism

 

Plagiarism

The University of Warwick defines plagiarism as 'presenting someone else's work or ideas as the student's own' (Regulation 11 - see the bottom of this page for links to this and other resources).

Note that this definition includes self-plagiarism. You may not reproduce work that you have already presented for a summative piece or dissertation. Formative work, as long as it is your own, does not fall under this category.

This definition applies to all assessed work, including but not limited to essay plans, essays, exams, podcasts, blogs and other digital formats.

The reproduction of work includes the following:

  • copying, ie. repeating phrases or sentences word-for-word
  • modifying, ie. closely paraphrasing another's work by simply changing a few words or altering the order of presentation
  • borrowing, ie. presenting another person’s ideas or concepts as your own, even if you do so in your own words

Improper acknowledgement includes the failure to:

  • put quote-marks around text that has been quoted verbatim from another source, even if you have cited the source in a footnote or in the bibliography
  • cite the source of quoted text, even if you have put the text in quote-marks
  • cite the source of text that you have closely paraphrased from another source
  • cite the source of ideas or concepts that you have borrowed from another source

 


Academic Misconduct

Plagiarism is one kind of academic misconduct. Other kinds of academic misconduct include, but are not limited to:

  • Contract Cheating. You may not purchase or ask another person to complete assessed work or sit an exam in your place. Always acknowledge any third party assistance (beyond that of your tutor), for example with proof reading or providing references. If you are unclear whether any third party assistance is acceptable please discuss with your academic or personal tutor in advance of submitting the piece of work.
  • Collusion. If you allow another student to copy some or all of your work, even if you consider this is helping them, you may be considered to have cheated alongside the student who copied the work. Whilst the Department encourages students to work together and read each other’s work, all work submitted should be the student’s own.
  • Deliberate attempts to mask plagiarism. The Department may ask for work to be presented in other formats if it suspects students are deliberately trying to mask one of the forms of plagiarism identified above.

 


Academic Misconduct vs. Poor Academic Practice

Warwick University distinguishes between academic misconduct and poor academic practice. Academic misconduct is defined as follows:

Academic misconduct are acts or omissions by a student which give or have the potential to give an unfair advantage in an examination or assessment, or might assist someone else to gain an unfair advantage, or an activity likely to undermine the integrity essential to scholarship and research. (Regulation 11)

Academic misconduct requires the intention to obtain an unfair advantage, or knowingly engaging in a behaviour that has the potential to give an unfair advantage, irrespective of whether such advantage is actually obtained. (Regulation 11)

Poor academic practice is less serious than academic misconduct, but should be avoided nonetheless:

Poor academic practice is the failure to observe principles of academic integrity. It typically (but not exclusively) occurs when referencing is inadequate, but not in a way suggesting that the student attempted to gain an unfair advantage. (Regulation 11)

Poor academic practice should be used where the extent of plagiarism or other misconduct is limited. It can be used in particular at earlier stages of a student’s degree, when they might only have an imperfect understanding of the principles of academic integrity. It can be found, e.g., where a student has referenced the material used but not indicated that it is a verbatim quote. (Guidance on Regulation 11)

Note, however, that the example given at the end of this quote is a guide only. An essay that contains multiple or extensive examples of verbatim quotes without quote-marks may well be a case of academic misconduct rather than poor academic practice.

Penalties for academic misconduct depend on the severity of the offence and can include the following:

  • reduced or zero mark for the piece of work in which the plagiarism occurred
  • re-submission of the work with revised referencing, for a reduced or capped mark
  • re-submission of a new piece of work for a reduced or capped mark
  • revocation of an academic award or honour to which the work contributed

In the History Department, the great majority of cases of cheating are dealt with in one of the first three ways.

The penalty for poor academic practice, as opposed to academic misconduct, is normally that the piece of work in question receives lower marks in line with the normal marking schedule. There is no fixed number of marks that are deducted for poor academic practice; these marks are simply not earned under the marking criteria. In such cases, the overall mark for the piece of work is determined by the marker using their academic judgment.

 


Training

All students in History are required to complete the Avoiding Plagiarism Moodle course at the beginning of each year. This is designed for students in any discipline. Once you have completed the course, please download the certificate and upload it to Tabula so there is a record that you have done the training. The deadline for uploading your certificate to Tabula is 14th October. Please note that the completion of the training and uploading of the certificate constitutes a monitoring point.

In addition, the History department offers the following history-specific resources for understanding plagiarism:

  • interactive examples of plagiarism in a hypothetical History essay
  • plagiarism is covered in the academic writing course that is part of the first-year module Making of the Modern World
  • second-year and final-year students discuss plagiarism in cohort meetings with the Director of Second Year Studies and the Director of Final Year Studies

 


Procedure in cases of suspected plagiarism

Cases of suspected plagiarism are identified by markers in the first instance, usually with the help of the Turnitin software (see below). The marker may judge that a piece of work counts as poor academic practice, in which case they will mark the work as usual, taking the poor practice into account in their mark and/or feedback.

The marker may instead judge that the case is more serious, in which case they will refer the case to the Academic Conduct Panel, which is made up of staff from the department. Members of the panel examine the case and make an initial judgment about whether it is a) poor academic practice or b) academic misconduct.

If a), the work is returned to the marker, who marks it using their academic judgment, as explained above. If b), the student is notified that they are under investigation for plagiarism, and is asked to meet the Chair of the panel to discuss the case. The Chair then decides which penalty to impose and informs the student of this decision.

 


Turnitin software

The History department uses third-party software called 'Turnitin' to detect plagiarism in student essays. All summative essays submitted on Tabula are run through this software. The software compares each essay to a database of other essays submitted at Warwick and at other universities in the UK and around the world. It also compares the essay to a range of other sources, from scholarly articles to blog posts. Essays that receive a high score on Turnitin are then scrutinised by the marker to check whether plagiarism has indeed taken place. Markers can also identity cases of plagiarism in essays that receive a relatively low Turnitin score. In sum, Turnitin is a tool that markers use in conjunction with their own judgment.

 


University-wide resources on plagiarism

The University’s regulations on plagiarism are contained in University Regulation 11, Academic Integrity.

More detailed guidance on how to implement these regulations is in the Guidance on Regulation 11.

Note that these regulations and guidance were updated in summer 2021, with the updates taking effect from October 4, 2021.

The University also has a Proofreading Policy that sets out what the University considers to be appropriate with regards to proofreading and what checks should be in place when proofreading is undertaken.

Other resources for students are available on the Academic Integrity page.