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Misconduct Meeting

Stages of Misconduct


Meeting/Mark reduction
Hearing

This article is for Misconduct Meetings dealing with marking adjustments and is intended as a helpful guide that should be read alongside Academic Misconduct Regulations, for related processes see Misconduct Hearing, Disciplinary, Fitness to Practice, Essays Mills, or the university’s guidance on turnitin

Overview

The University has 2 methods by which they can deal with any concerns that academic misconduct has occurred including;

  • Marking Adjustments
    • used in cases of minor concerns,
    • dealt with by module leaders, 
    • and only escalated to a hearing if you challenge that an offence has occurred and/or reject the penalty given by the module leader
  • Academic Misconduct Hearings
    • used in cases of major concerns, or
    • if you reject penalty proposed by a marking adjustment, including where you challenge the allegation that an offence has occurred
    • Dealt with by a Panel will investigation and meet with you

On professional courses
If you are on a course where you are subject to professional body regulations, there may be fitness to practice proceedings taken against you if academic misconduct is found and where there is concern your fitness to practise was compromised as a result. For instance, falsifying data could bring into question your honesty and integrity- could you be trusted to not falsify data or reports in a professional setting (such as schools, hospitals, pharmacies, etc).  
 

Why has a meeting been called.
Staff will call for a meeting if there is a concern that academic misconduct has occurred and that; 

  • once marking has been completed on all sections except that affected by concerns, the learning objectives have been met
  • it is likely the concerns have arisen from academic negligence or less than serious misconduct concerns than that requiring a hearing

Don’t panic if you are informed a meeting is taking place.
It is important to remember that until the conclusion of the process, the module lead is looking into an allegation of misconduct and they should ensure they take on board the points you raise in response before reaching a conclusion. Wherever an allegation or concern has been raised, it is right that it is looked into appropriately and this can lead to instances where the allegation or concern is dismissed and/or not found. 

But you should be honest with yourself and the module lead if you believe misconduct has occurred, even if you did not mean for it to occur. 

Potential concerns of academic misconduct
The University defines what they consider to be misconduct. Such definitions include;

  • Academic Negligence
    • Which is normally your first offence, and is
    • Considered to be small and only in one part of your work;
    • Related only to your work and no other student;
    • Could have arisen from ignorance of requirements or a misunderstanding;
    • You evidently attempted to follow good practice but failed;
    • Your referencing is poor or inadequate.
  • Cheating by breaking the rules of conduct in examinations or other assessments, including
    • Communicating with or copying from any other student except where specifically permitted such as group assessments,
    • Communicating with any person other than a properly authorised invigilator or another authorised member of staff,
    • To bring in any written/printed material into an examination room unless expressly permitted for that assessment, or, helping another student to do so.
    • To bring in any electronically stored information into an examination room, or access information via a network or other form of communication, unless expressly permitted for that assessment, or, helping another student to do so.
    • Gaining access to any unauthorised material relating to an examination or other assessment during or before the specified time, or, helping another student to do so.
    • Obtaining a copy of an 'unseen' written examination paper in advance of the date and time for its authorised release,  or,  helping another student to do so.
  • Plagiarism;
    • The unacknowledged insertion into your work of material taken from the work of another;  published or unpublished. Use of systems like turnitin can help you avoid plagiarism.
  • Self-Plagiarism
    • Where you submit a piece of work you have previously submitted and been awarded credit for (in another module or course)
  • Collusion, including
    • Doing working with others when this is not a requirement of the assessment (i.e. group work) and without explicitly referencing the work of those involved
    • Allowing, either through negligence or knowingly, another student to copy part or all of your work which that student then submits as if their own unaided work
  • Data related misconduct, including
    • Falsifying Data; where you manipulate research processes or change or omit data without good cause
    • Fabricating Data; where you make up results or other outputs such as artefacts, and then present as if they were real
    • Failing to provide raw data used for research work when request to
    • Conducting research and data collection without prior ethical approval
  • Impersonation
    • Where you allow another person to assume your identity for the purpose of completing an assessment/work
    • Where you assume the identity of another for the purpose of completing their assessment or work
  • 3rd Party assistance and Essay Mills, where
    • You have commissioned an assessment from a 3rd Party, which may or may not include essay writing services
    • You have used a translation or proof reading service where they have done any editorial work such as re-writing or re-wording the original piece of work
    • You have had an unacceptable level of 3rd party assistance with the work
  • Systematic failure to reference
  • Any other form of dishonest practice, including but not limited to
    • Offering inducements including bribery
    • Requesting the work be completed by another
    • Commissioning of work to be completed by another, even if that work has not yet been marked

Review evidence 
Prior to, or at the meeting, you should review any evidence/information given, and consider your responses. 

In cases where a turnitin report is provided, you should give consideration to the overall similarity percentages, individual similarity percentages and how any patterns to the highlighted similarities. 
In particular you should look for;

  • Solid blocks of identical similarities which can be indicative of copy and pasting
  • Blocks of near identical similarities where there are a few words that differ or where the ordering of words is slightly different; which can be indicative of poor paraphrasing or an attempt to purposefully mask someone else’s work as your own
  • If similarities are wide spread throughout the assessment or if they are concentrated in one area of the assessment.
  • If there is a similar structure to a highlighted similar source

If an issue has occurred, it is a good opportunity, with the module lead present, to go through those issues to get a better understanding of how to improve your academic writing and avoid future occurrences. 

Considering your response 
We recommend you write down your responses, notes and thoughts in advance of the meeting where possible. This way you can be confident that you have raised everything you wish to do so before the conclusion of the process. 

You should try to anticipate possible questions and points the module leader might have when considering your response. An Advisor from Sunderland Students’ Union is well placed to help you consider possible questions and your response in advance of the meeting if evidence or information has been provided. 

Mitigation 
If you have extenuating circumstances which affected your assessment, there is a University policy with regard to extensions and extenuating circumstances which can deal with such cases in a supportive and appropriate way.

This means that such circumstances will not normally be considered in the decision of whether or not academic misconduct has taken place, or what the penalty should be.

However if you do highlight such circumstances, although this does not dissolve you of responsibility it may still present the module lead with an opportunity to consider if there any support you might need in the future and to offer guidance.

Attendance
If you are struggling with attendance you could ask if the module lead will consider re-arranging, hold the meeting via skype or telephone, or responding in advance in writing. All these options have limitations to them and you should consult with an Advisor when considering these options.

You have the right to be accompanied by another member of the University community and we recommend you do. Having someone there, who supports you, can really help you feel more confident and supported during meetings. 

Responding to questions
Take your time in answering questions put to you; take a deep breath or a sip of water if you need to. It is better you are able to calmly and cohesively answer rather than rushing to respond. 

Try not to act in an aggressive or confrontational way if you are facing challenging questions. Remain at all times, polite and professional- this does not stop you being firm or resolved in your responses. 

Outcome
If you admit to academic misconduct or negligence the Module Lead will suggest a marking adjustment that does not fail your work if appropriate, alternatively your case can be sent to a Misconduct Hearing

If you do not believe you have not committed academic misconduct or negligence or you do not accept the penalty the module lead suggests to you, you will be referred to a Misconduct Hearing where a panel can look into the matter more thoroughly. 

Page last reviewed: 01/03/2019
Next review due: 31/08/2020