Academic Integrity and Misconduct Policy

Fact box

  • Policy owner: Chair, Learning and Teaching Committee
  • Policy category: Academic: Learning and Teaching
  • Policy status: Approved
  • Approval body: Academic Board
  • Endorsement body: Learning & Teaching Committee
  • Related policies:
  • Last amended: 9th Dec. 2019

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to outline the approach of Alphacrucis College (AC) to ensure its students, Higher Degree Research (HDR) candidates and faculty members act with integrity in the performance of their academic work. This policy defines academic integrity and various forms of academic misconduct, describes the procedures for investigating allegations of academic misconduct, and outlines penalties that will apply where allegations are proven.

Scope

All delivery sites
All faculty, HDR candidates and students
The policy does not apply to general misconduct by students or staff which is dealt with in other policies.

Policy

AC believes that ethical research and scholarship is based on an intellectual environment where academic integrity is highly valued and carefully upheld. The College will make information about academic integrity available to students in online induction, handbooks, subject outlines and other relevant teaching materials Academic misconduct is not permitted or tolerated and any such occurrences will be penalised.

The AC Academic Misconduct Register records warnings and the outcomes of any accusations of plagiarism, cheating, collusion or research misconduct. A HDR candidate or student’s involvement in academic misconduct will be retained on the register while still enrolled in any course and academic staff will have access to this information when considering any subsequent allegations of academic misconduct. Faculty involvement in academic misconduct will be recorded in the AC Faculty Academic Misconduct Register and will be available to the appropriate supervisor involved in reviews, appointments or subsequent allegations of misconduct.

DEFINITIONS

Academic Integrity

Undertaking academic activity in a responsible way to ensure the moral and ethical maintenance of academic standards; honesty and rigour in research and scholarship; and avoidance of plagiarism, cheating or collusion.

Academic Misconduct

Academic misconduct is undertaking academic activity, either deliberately or imprudently, that can result in unmerited advantage. It may take several forms including, but not limited to, plagiarism, cheating and collusion as defined below.

Plagiarism

Examples of plagiarism include: 

  • submission of work in which ideas, words or other work are copied directly or paraphrased from a source, published or unpublished (for example a website, computer program, another student's essay or presentation, a book or journal article, a lecture, a performance piece), and presented as if they are the student's own, without appropriate acknowledgement of the original author;
  • recycling i.e. submission of work by a student that has already been assessed in another subject without disclosing that fact;
  • unintended failure of a student to appreciate appropriate referencing conventions. 

AC distinguishes between plagiarism which has occurred from negligence on the part of a faculty member, HDR candidate or student (minor) and that which is dishonest (major).

Minor plagiarism is defined as uninformed omissions of details, which are minor in nature and by themselves are unlikely to alter the student's overall grade (e.g. omissions of a limited number of referencing details or incorrect referencing details). It is acknowledged that these minor omissions and errors are more likely to occur in the student's first semester on campus, and therefore, responses should be more educative at that time. Education and rehabilitation are the preferred course of action.

Major plagiarism is defined as an attempt to circumvent assessment requirements by drawing on unacknowledged sources in such a way as to improve the grade, strengthen the research project or publish a piece of work.

Cheating

Cheating occurs before, during or after an assessment or examination when a student seeks to obtain an unfair advantage or assist another student to do so. It includes, but is not limited to:

  • bringing items into an examination that are not permitted such as a textbook, notebook, dictionary, calculator, computer, notes, manuscript, bag, mobile phone or other materials or device or means of special assistance, except those items specifically authorised for the examination by the lecturer who set the examination. Note: valuable items, such as small purses and wallets, may be brought into the examination room but must be left on the floor adjacent to the student’s desk for the duration of the examination; the examination supervisor may inspect such items;
  • colluding with others either in the examination venue or outside the venue including by electronic means;
  • deliberately viewing other students work in an examination, or in other circumstances, without their permission;
  • fabricating or falsifying data or inventing references;
  • submitting the same work or recycling work without prior permission of the subject coordinator or research supervisor.

Contract Cheating

Contract cheating involves a faculty member, HDR candidate or student contracting a third party – paid or unpaid – to prepare or contribute to a research or assessment task or part of assessable work on their behalf. It may also involve the person acquiring or commissioning for services related to the preparation of assessable work with the intention to cheat, misrepresent and/or plagiarise.

A third party may include:

  • a friend;
  • a family member;
  • a fellow student;
  • a staff member; or
  • commercial services, such as:
    • a tutoring company;
    • a document sharing website;
    • an editing service; or
    • an assignment writing service, also known as ’ghost writing'.

Solicitation

Solicitation occurs when an individual offers, encourages, induces or advertises for a faculty member, HDR candidate or student to contract, commission, pay, procure, or complete on their behalf, research or assessment tasks and items that are likely to result in their use for the purpose of cheating, misrepresentation and/or plagiarism.

Collusion

Collusion, unlike collaboration, which encompasses positive co-learning, is when two or more candidates/students, or a candidate/student and any other person(s), work together on individual (not group work) assessable work with intent to cheat, plagiarise or engage in academic misconduct.

Other Academic Misconduct

Other forms of academic misconduct may include but are not limited to:

  • tampering, or attempting to tamper, with research work, examination papers, class work, grades, class records, or other student documentation;
  • acquiring, or attempting to acquire, possessing, or distributing examination materials or information without the approval of the lecturer;
  • impersonating another candidate/student, or arranging for anyone to impersonate a candidate/student, in any examination or other assessment task;
  • altering group assessment work that has been agreed as final by all participating students prior to submission without the collaborating students' consent;
  • use of recorded lectures (audio and/or visual), Powerpoints, or other class notes in a way that infringes another person's privacy or intellectual property rights - for example, by publishing or distributing a recording without permission from the lecturer;
  • offering or accepting bribes (money or sexual or other favours) e.g. for admission or for grades or research results;
  • fabrication, falsification and misrepresentation of information (including research data and source material);
  • not meeting required research standards, including conducting research without ethics approval or conducting research in an unethical manner.

Detection

Any person may report a complaint of misconduct by a faculty member, HDR candidate or student to the lecturer, subject coordinator or Program Director, Dean of Faculty or relevant supervisor.

Although moral and legal copyright to candidate/student assessment or research materials is vested in that person as the author, the candidate/student, by enrolling in an accredited course, provides an implied consent to the College which authorises:

  • reproduction and storage of electronic material which they may author and submit as part of their program assessment; and
  • scanning this material for purposes of detecting, through software processing or other methods, any plagiarised material used in assignments.

Disciplinary Action

Disciplinary action for academic misconduct will be taken in accordance with the following principles:

  • allegations will be dealt with promptly;
  • processes will be transparent and in accordance with procedural fairness;
  • penalties will be appropriate and proportionate;
  • judgements of intentionality will be taken into account in determining any penalty that might be applied;
  • confidentiality will be respected and maintained by all parties within the constraints of allegation, investigation and appeal processes, subject to any legal requirements for disclosure;
  • anyone accused of academic misconduct has the opportunity to respond and/or appeal decisions, according to the Complaint and Grievance Resolution Policy;
  • staff involved in misconduct or appeals processes will disclose actual, perceived or potential conflicts of interest as soon as they become aware of them.

Responsible for implementation

Chair, Learning and Teaching Committee

Key stakeholders

All faculty, HDR candidates and students

Related documents

National Health and Medical Research Centre (NHMRC):


Procedures

Academic Integrity and Misconduct Procedure

PREVENTION

Faculty are encouraged to minimise opportunities for the occurrence of academic misconduct within the candidate/student body through enhancement and practical implementation of academic integrity. A range of coordinated strategies may include:

  • advising candidates/students at the time of enrolment of the details of this policy and that submission of assignments is normally in electronic form;
  • use of plagiarism detection software in all higher education subjects;
  • explicitly referring to plagiarism and collusion at key stages in courses;
  • providing candidates/students with opportunities in which to practise writing and referencing skills;
  • providing prompt and constructive feedback to assignments and examinations;
  • explaining the aims and purposes of assessment tasks;
  • providing examples of sound and poor practice;
  • monitoring time pressures and timetabling that may adversely affect completion and submission of assignments;
  • mixing the assessment tasks of subjects to minimise risk of plagiarism, contract cheating and collusion and foster positive values and behaviour among students;
  • requiring students to provide a disclaimer appended to their assignments which affirms that, where otherwise acknowledged, the material submitted in the assignments is their own.

 Faculty are encouraged to conduct research in accordance with both national frameworks governing ethical research, especially where human subjects are involved. This includes the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research and the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research. As with HDR candidates, primary data gathered during faculty research projects should be stored in a College-provided secure repository for a minimum of five years.

While this policy outlines penalties for different offences, the list of factors is not all-inclusive; other factors may also be relevant. Staff shall exercise their professional judgement on whether the suggested penalties fit the particular case. Sometimes a more lenient or more severe penalty may be appropriate, depending on the circumstances.

Penalties for faculty academic misconduct will take account of the fact that faculty are expected to have learned ethical conduct earlier during their academic journey.

FIRST OFFENCE

  • If the academic misconduct appears unintentional or minor, generally the supervisor/lecturer interviews the candidate/student to identify the problem and provide assistance in understanding the College’s policy on academic misconduct (including the consequences of a further offence). This is not a disciplinary matter.
  • If unintentional academic misconduct was substantial, the supervisor or lecturer must note this on the AC Academic Misconduct Register. This is not a penalty, it is simply so that if the candidate or student does it again, the College is aware that it is a repeat offence.
  • If the supervisor/lecturer believes the candidate/student was aware that this constitutes academic misconduct and that it was substantial, the supervisor/lecturer must report the matter to the Program Director and the candidate/student may be placed on Academic Intervention.

Penalty

HDR supervisors/coursework lecturers should undertake the following actions:

  • provide a written warning to the candidate/student;
  • provide additional counselling or tutoring if required;
  • resubmission or revision of the assessment item in relation to which misconduct occurred by a specified date. If the candidate/student was aware they were committing plagiarism, they may be allowed to rewrite the assessment for a chance to receive no more than 50% of the mark on the assessment component where misconduct was evident;
  • depending on the extent and severity of the case: 0% for the assessment component, or fail the entire subject.

SECOND OFFENCE

This should be reported to the Program Director and recorded on the AC Academic Misconduct Register.

Penalty

Depending on the severity of the academic misconduct, this may include:

  • a requirement for the candidate/student to receive counselling or tutoring;
  • candidate/student receives 0% to 50% of mark, or NYC in the case of VET, on the assessment component where misconduct was evident;
  • the candidate/student may be allowed to write an assessment on a new topic for a chance to receive no more than 50% of the mark, or Satisfactory in the case of VET, on the assessment component where misconduct was evident;
  • failure in the entire subject or research project;
  • suspension for one or two semesters;
  • exclusion from the College.

THIRD OFFENCE

This should be reported by the Program Director to the Dean of Faculty and recorded on the AC Academic Misconduct Register.

Penalty

Depending on the severity of the academic misconduct, this may include:

  • failure in the entire subject or research project;
  • suspension for one or two semesters;
  • exclusion from the College.

FACTORS TO BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT

Aggravating factors:

  • seriousness of the offence;
  • degree of premeditation;
  • impact on other candidates/students and other researchers;
  • extent to which the offence corrupts the assessment process;
  • repeat offence;
  • extent of assignment involving misconduct.

Mitigating factors:

  • first year student;
  • offence unintentional or spontaneous;
  • role played by the offender if others involved;
  • offender under duress, but not sufficient to constitute a defence;
  • degree of remorse and cooperation shown;
  • willingness to seek assistance to avoid further offences.

Graduate:

Where AC has admitted a candidate/student to a degree (or other award of the College) and academic misconduct occurring within the candidate/student’s candidature is substantially alleged and eventually substantiated:

  • the candidate/student concerned is recorded as “failed” in any relevant subject or other component of the course of study from which he or she graduated;
  • conferral of the degree is rescinded;
  • the candidate/student’s name is deleted from the College’s Register of Graduates;
  • the candidate/student is required to return the College testamur and final academic transcript to the College.

NOTIFICATION AND RESOLUTION OF ACADEMIC MISCONDUCT

Step 1: Report of Alleged Academic Misconduct

Information and/or evidence regarding alleged academic misconduct is submitted to the lecturer (and if necessary the relevant Program Director) as soon as practicable but normally no later than three weeks after the incident to which the information and/or evidence relates came to light. However, the Program Director or relevant supervisor has discretion to accept information and/or evidence later than three weeks after the incident to which the information and/or evidence relates. Any person may report a complaint of misconduct by a faculty member, HDR candidate or student and AC protects the privacy of the individual who reports the complaint.

The Program Director or relevant supervisor must retain all relevant documentation relating to the case of alleged misconduct for use in any subsequent investigation procedure. This documentation will include a relevant item of work or examination sheet and record of meetings and phone conversations with the faculty member, HDR candidate or student concerned and copies of correspondence, including emails, on this and any earlier related matter. The lecturer, Program Director or relevant faculty supervisor acknowledges in writing receipt of a signed statement alleging misconduct immediately upon its receipt.

If the Program Director or relevant faculty supervisor has a conflict of interest in the alleged misconduct, the information and/or evidence is referred to the Dean of Faculty who takes receipt, is responsible for issuing written acknowledgement, and takes charge of subsequent inquiries.

Step 2: Inquiry

Research misconduct should be investigated by the faculty member’s supervisor using the principles and procedures in the NHMRC Guide to Managing and Investigating Potential Breaches of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2018) or its successors. The investigation will be conducted by the faculty member’s supervisor or another delegated investigating officer.

For allegations of candidate/student misconduct, the relevant Program Director consults the person providing the signed statement, the candidate/student and any other persons the enquirer deems appropriate. The inquiry is concluded as quickly as practicable and normally within a week of the receipt of the signed statement.

If, on completion of the inquiry, the investigating officer concludes that the candidate/student has no case to answer, no further investigations proceed unless the individual reporting the allegation disagrees with the finding and requests the investigating officer review the case. The request for a review must be lodged in writing within two weeks of the date of notification of the outcome of the finding. Where a review is requested, it proceeds within a week of the request. If the relevant investigating officer upholds the original finding, the case is closed.

If, during the preliminary inquiry, the candidate/student admits to the alleged misconduct, or the investigating officer determines that the suspected student has a case to answer, the penalty is determined in line with this policy.

If, on completion of further inquiry, the investigating officer concludes that the allegation is vexatious or malicious in motivation, or the evidence provided as part of the allegation is spurious, it is reported to the Dean of Faculty for appropriate action.

Step 3: Notification

On completion of necessary inquiries and after making a determination, the investigating officer notifies the accused of the outcome. Where academic misconduct has occurred, the incident is recorded in the AC Academic Misconduct Register.

If faculty misconduct is determined, then disciplinary action may follow.  

If investigating a candidate/student, the Registrar is also to be notified of the outcome. The Registrar has responsibility for ensuring that the candidate/student’s record is appropriately notated and the determination enforced.