Academic Integrity and Misconduct
Our Academic Integrity Policy (see useful documents below) sets out how we will promote and maintain academic integrity while penalising academic misconduct.
What is Academic Integrity and why is it important?
Academic integrity is an extension of an individual’s personal integrity. It means demonstrating honesty and transparency in the completion of your academic work and not acting in such a way that will lead to you gaining an unfair advantage over another learner. It matters because it means that your achievement will be genuine and you will have truly earned your qualification and be prepared for life after University.
We are committed to promoting and maintaining academic integrity. We will provide you with opportunities to learn about why maintaining academic integrity is important and provide you with practical resources that you can use when submitting work. You can find some of these resources below, or via Blackboard, the University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).
In return, we expect you to demonstrate academic integrity throughout your studies by:
- Producing work that is the result of your individual effort (unless the assessment explicitly requires a group submission)
- Acknowledging sources that you have used, following the referencing system for your programme of study
- Not reusing for a new assessment any work (either in full or in part) for which you have already been awarded credit – whether at Buckinghamshire New University or another institution
- Detailing accurate data and information obtained appropriately and ethically, and which represents your own endeavours, knowledge and understanding
- Adhering to and complying with all applicable legal, professional, ethical and regulatory requirements. This includes the University’s regulations regarding conduct in examinations.
What is Academic Misconduct?
Academic misconduct is a breach of academic integrity where you gain an unfair advantage. This poses a threat to the standards of the University’s qualifications and to the achievement of other learners whose qualifications have been achieved legitimately.
Committing academic misconduct also means that you are cheating yourself. You are taking away your opportunity to develop your own skills and understanding. It can also impact your future career prospects since employers expect degrees to reflect learners’ genuine achievement. Many professions will have expectations around honesty, values and other standards so an academic misconduct decision may mean that you are unable to do the job you have set your heart on.
We will take action to investigate and penalise cases where academic misconduct is suspected to have occurred. Where academic misconduct is found to have been committed, work will not be marked and will be required to be reassessed with a penalty on the mark to be awarded which can affect your final degree classification. In the most serious cases, it can lead to your expulsion from the University.
Examples of Academic Misconduct
Plagiarism is the most common form of academic misconduct and involves presenting someone else’s work as your own. It also includes taking another learner’s work without permission. Plagiarism can be intentional or unintentional.
Self-plagiarism, also known as recycling or ‘double dipping’ is where you submit work or part of work which you have already submitted on an earlier occasion and for which you have gained academic credits.
Collusion is where you work with another learner together on the same assignment, but where you should be submitting individual pieces of work. Collusion can also take place where you provide a copy of your completed assignment to another learner for them to complete their assignment which they then submit as their own.
Cheating normally refers to exam-related incidents such as taking unauthorised materials into the exam hall, or getting someone else to sit an exam for you. Cheating can also apply to a broader range of assessed activities, e.g. the falsification of data, evidence, or results used when completing research.
Contract cheating or commissioning is the most serious form of academic misconduct and involves you getting someone else to do your work for you and submitting it as your own. It can involve the use of ‘essay mills’ where unscrupulous companies take money from learners to write assignments. In some cases they then ‘shop’ the learner to their University for academic misconduct!
How to avoid committing academic misconduct
Academic misconduct can occur for a variety of reasons, including cultural differences, lack of understanding, poor time management or disorganisation, disconnection from the course, a fear of failure or confidence in your ability or any one of a range of mental health problems.
There is never an acceptable reason to commit academic misconduct. However, the following guidance will help you manage some of the underlying problems.
- Learn about referencing conventions: Referencing conventions differ between cultures and regions and the University’s expectations may be different to what you have previously encountered. We have put together a range of resources below.
- Follow the instructions: Make sure that you read your Assessment Brief carefully to ensure that you understand the instructions for submission, especially around referencing requirements, where group work is involved, or where work links to another module. If you are in doubt approach your module tutor.
- Listen to Exam Invigilators: If you have an exam follow the instructions from your exam invigilator before the exam on what you can and cannot bring in to the exam hall. You can also read our rules for conduct in examinations on our exams page.
- Use the University’s support services: If you are feeling anxious or depressed speak to one of our support team and they will be able to help you. You can also approach the Student Learning and Achievement Team who will help your develop your academic skills.
- Manage your time: Allow plenty of time to complete your assignment and don’t leave it until the last minute.
- Don’t panic: If you don’t think that you will be able to meet an approaching deadline and you have a good reason, e.g. ill-health or a family emergency, speak to your module tutor or a member of Academic Registry staff. They will be able to advise you on a range of options, e.g. how you can apply for an extension to the assignment deadline. There are always options that can be explored.
To help you understand how to present your work properly we have put together a number of resources to support you:
- Avoiding Plagiarism is a short online course that will help you understand the conventions of academic writing. You can access the course from the menu of each Blackboard module shell.
- Cite Them Right Online is a web-based referencing style guide which also offers short tutorial videos and top tips on how to develop your evidence-based writing skills.
- Turnitin is a web-based service available through Blackboard which can help identify potential plagiarism and poor referencing in your written work.
- The Student Learning and Achievement Team can work with you to develop your academic ability through 1:1 tutorials and workshops.
- Practical Recipes for Student Success are a series of BNU-produced video tutorials covering academic writing and referencing (available on the Student Learning and Achievement Blackboard Organisation).
Investigating suspected cases of academic misconduct
Where a tutor has concerns about your work they will invite you to discuss it with them which provides you an opportunity to indicate any lack of understanding. In many instances misconduct can occur due to poor or inadequate referencing and we recognise that referencing can be difficult for those new or returning to academic study.
In some circumstances you may be invited to an oral ‘viva voce’ examination. This is an extension of the assessment process during which you will be expected to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the work you have submitted.
In most cases poor academic practice will be dealt with via the marking and feedback process. Your module tutor may also refer you to our Student Learning and Achievement Team for further guidance around referencing to ensure that you understand for future assignments. Where concerns remain, or for more serious instances, the case will be escalated to an Academic Integrity Panel where you will have the opportunity to respond formally in writing.
You can find out more about our processes for investigating academic misconduct as well as the penalties that may be applied by reading the Academic Integrity Policy. You can also contact the Conduct team in Academic Registry by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. For independent advice and guidance on the process you can also contact the Students’ Union Advice Centre.