Academic Misconduct

Academic misconduct can include: not referencing sources appropriately in assignments, taking notes into an exam where they are not permitted, and copying someone else’s work. This also includes helping someone else to cheat by, for example, letting them copy your work. Note that just having unauthorised materials in an examination is an offense in itself, regardless of whether they are used. This means special care should always be taken to leave any last minute cramming notes OUTSIDE the exam venue in the bin or in your bag and not in your pockets.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the presentation of written work, findings or ideas as your own without proper acknowledgement of the original source.

Examples of plagiarism include:

  • Copying a published author’s text/arguments without providing an appropriate reference (this includes websites);
  • Paraphrasing a published author’s text/arguments without providing an appropriate reference (this includes websites);
  • Handing in someone else’s work as your own;
  • Making superficial changes to another’s work and then handing it in as your own;
  • Submission of work you have already handed in for another course/subject (yes, you are not allowed to plagiarise yourself);
  • In certain disciplines, using mathematical/design concepts but neglecting to reference these concepts.

What is collusion?

Collusion is where one student is alleged to have helped another student by allowing them to copy their work. The University regards students who permit their work to be copied as seriously as those who did the copying, and the penalties can be the same.

What about group work or discussing the assignment with classmates? Is this plagiarism or collusion?

Many courses use group work or syndicates to perform assessment tasks. Group work is defined as a formally established project to be done by a number of students in common, resulting in a single report, essay or a number of associated reports/essays.

Acceptable collaboration can be defined as any constructive educational and intellectual practice that aims to enhance learning through interaction between students. Examples of acceptable collaboration include:

  • Students discussing general themes and concepts;
  • Students discussing the requirements of an assignment.

The difference between appropriate collaboration and unacceptable collusion or plagiarism is based on the principle that producing the work remains the individual responsibility of the student. Make sure that you understand the assessment requirements with group work. Even though you may be required to work collaboratively, you may be required to submit independent reports that are your own work. If in doubt, ask your tutor or lecturer for clarification.

What about exams?

The basis of academic misconduct in exams is where a student is alleged to have sought unfair advantage to which they are not entitled. This may include:

  • taking unauthorised notes into an exam, or unauthorised calculators or formulae on your calculator into an exam;
  • copying the work of another student (with or without their consent);
  • allowing another student to copy from you or helping them in some way;
  • having someone else sit the exam for you.

If you are suspected of any of the above misconduct during the exam, an invigilator may speak to you about this. If you have taken unauthorised materials into the exam, they will be confiscated when seen by an exam invigilator. If you have been confronted by an invigilator you still have the right to complete the examination and you should attempt to do this to the best of your ability.

New students are required to complete ACE (Academic Conduct Essentials), an online module, in their first semester. If you are still unsure, more information is also available from the Plagiarism Portal.

You can also contact Student Services to find out about workshops and other resources, or speak to a Guild Student Assist Officer if you are unsure about what assistance may be helpful to you.

Where there has been an allegation of academic misconduct, the Guild’s Student Assist Officers can provide support, attend meetings with you and advocate on your behalf.

Tips to avoid misconduct

  • Make yourself familiar with the ethical scholarship information, particularly the information about plagiarism and group work as these are some of the most common instances. Please refer to the University’s policy on academic misconduct.
  • Visit the Plagiarism Portal.
  • Keep copies of your notes and drafts – this may be very important in the event that you need to demonstrate that work submitted was yours;
  • Learn the difference between paraphrasing and plagiarising;
  • When involved in group work, check that you understand what is a group effort and where/if you can use any of this in any individual pieces that you produce;
  • Try to develop a way of sharing with your peers without simply providing access to your work – while collaboration is an effective way of working, you still need to demonstrate your own understanding/knowledge;

If you receive an allegation of misconduct, contact Guild Student Assist – the implications of any such charge are significant and we can help you through the process.

For advice or assistance on an academic misconduct matter, contact Student Assist at assist@guild.uwa.edu.au or via their online form.



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