You will almost always need to include sections or ideas from other people’s work in your own academic work as standard academic practice. This can be from written resources such as journals and books, online resources such as webpages, information from lectures and more.
It is important that whoever is reading the work is clear which words or ideas are yours and which came from someone else. This is known as referencing.
Coventry University uses the APA Referencing Style to reference other people's ideas, text, or diagrams. If you started your course before the 1st September 2020, you may continue to use the Coventry University Guide to Referencing in Harvard Style until you graduate. If you study a Law course you will use OSCOLA. For support and advice on this, see the online referencing guidance or contact your Library team here:
If you do not reference properly, even by mistake, it will be treated as academic misconduct. Academic misconduct is when you don’t uphold academic integrity and breach the university’s regulations. The University views this as cheating.
Always give yourself time to check your work thoroughly (and, if you like, to submit a draft to Turnitin), before you submit it. Students who submit at the last minute risk cutting corners and breaking the rules.
Check your course’s specific requirements to make sure you understand what is asked of you.
What are the different types of academic misconduct?
Plagiarism is where you submit the work of others without properly recognising that it is someone else’s work and trying to pass it as your own work. It could include things like:
Copying and submitting the work of a fellow student.
Creating a piece of work by cutting and pasting various sections of text and/or images found on the Internet into a document without referencing the sources.
Paraphrasing the work from a book or journal without referencing such as trying to change one or two words in a sentence or paragraph so it looks different to the original.
Including pictures, diagrams or charts in your work without explaining where they came from.
Resubmitting work you have already had marked or may be being marked on another module at the same time (self-plagiarism).
Collusion is when two or more students work together on something which is ultimately submitted by each in a substantially similar or identical form and/or is represented by each student to be their individual work.
The University will see this as an offence whether it is deliberate or not. You could be found guilty of collusion if another student copies your work without your permission (such as if you have knowingly given them access to your work).
This is where you get someone else to complete an assessment, often in exchange for payment of some sort. This could be:
something as simple as giving another student money or buying them something
paying a company (who often try to advertise themselves in a very professional and official way, even though this is now illegal)
hiring a private tutor to write your assessment or provide a large amount of the assessment.
Did you know that companies who you pay for writing an assessment often blackmail students into paying more money with threats of telling the university about how your assignment was written.
Impersonation is where you ask someone else (it could be another student or a friend or a family member) to complete a test or examination for you. Remember that academic integrity means demonstrating your own knowledge and skills so it should only ever be you who completes an assessment or exam that contributes to your degree.
Falsifying or fabrication is where you submit data as part of an assessment that is not correct and has been purposefully changed from what it should show. This can include:
Inventing data without collecting from an experiment or survey
Falsifying or altering data, pictures, documents, reports and presentations within your assessment
During an examination where you are required to work completely by yourself, you will commit academic misconduct if you:
Possess unauthorised paper or materials in an exam
Possessing unauthorised devices such as a mobile phone and electronic watches in the room/assessment space whether switched off or not
Communicate with another student or anyone other than the invigilator during the exam
How Can I Avoid Academic Misconduct?
It is your responsibility to understand what is expected of you when submitting work as a student at Coventry University and Coventry University London or at a CU Group University. You can learn about good academic practice by attending lectures and workshops at the Centre for Academic Writing, reading study guides, visiting the Library, and asking your tutors for guidance.
Every course or faculty handbook has guidelines on the proper way to reference. It is important that you read and understand these.
Remember, you must include a correct reference when:
Quoting sections from a book.
‘Paraphrasing’ or summarising someone else’s argument.
Using another student’s notes (even in group work projects).
Including points from lecture notes.
Using graphs or illustrations that you did not create.
Copying computer code.
If the assessment is group work, check the rules with your tutor/lecturer and in your course handbooks.
You can discuss ideas and strategies with other students but all individual work must be the sole work of the student submitting it.
Never send or show your work to a fellow student, even your best friend. It is your responsibility to ensure that no-one else copies your work.
Contract cheating companies often use social media or Whatsapp to target university students. Be mindful of what you are seeing and be promised. Use your critical analysis skills to think whether what a company or individual is offering helps you to demonstrate academic integrity or whether it breaches the academic regulations.
We know that sometimes, with deadlines approaching and other personal circumstances challenging your ability to complete an assessment, it may seem easier to choose this option, but don’t. Remember to reach out to the support services available to you including Your Students’ Union Advice Service who can offer free and independent advice.
To demonstrate your academic integrity, only you can sit an examination that contributes to your degree so you should never ask anyone to do this for you. If you are worried about an upcoming exam or too ill to sit an exam, reach out to the support services available to you including Your Students’ Union Advice Service who can offer free and independent advice.
If you are struggling to gather the data or research you need for your assessment (such as your dissertation or a research project), speak with your academic team to get their help and expertise to help you. It’s always better to ask for help rather than taking what may seem like the easy option of making it up and hoping nobody will notice.
Make sure you follow the rules of the exam, whether its an online exam that needs to be completed independently or one in an exam room which will have rules displayed. Make sure you leave all your electronic equipment away from your assessment space and don’t take any notes with you to the assessment unless you have been told you can do beforehand. During the exam, only speak to an official exam invigilator.
The Consequences of Breaching Academic Integrity Standards
If you commit academic misconduct, you are not demonstrating academic integrity and in not doing so, are not demonstrating you have the knowledge and skills to earn your degree. Students who commit academic misconduct can weaken the value of the degree for other students as they are not demonstrating the level of knowledge and skills needed to earn the degree. Remember, this is your degree that tells future employers you have the knowledge and skills in that field and it won’t take them long to realise you don’t have the correct level of knowledge and skills if you cheat your way through a degree. Value your degree.
If you are found to have committed academic misconduct this could have serious consequences within the university and can include:
Having to resubmit an assessment
Have to redo an entire module
Being temporarily suspended from your course
Being expelled from the university
We know that sometimes in the lead up to assessment submissions, personal circumstances can occur unexpectedly that challenge your ability to complete assessments as normal. On these occasions, some students are faced with a choice as to whether reach out and get support (which can be hard to do) or make a rash decision to find a shortcut to complete their exam by committing academic misconduct. Remember there are plenty of support services available within the university, including Your Students Union Advice Service who can provide free and independent advice.
A proof reader is someone who highlights errors, like spelling mistakes, in a document. Proof readers don’t make corrections or edit the work. It’s your choice whether or not to use a proof-reader.
5 things to know when hiring a proof-reader:
The responsibility for the work is your own and you should ALWAYS keep a copy of your work before proof-reading.
A proof-reader cannot add new material or rewrite anything as this is not proof-reading and will be classed as academic misconduct as you are paying someone to do your work.
There is a list of recommended proof readers here.
Only approved proof-readers can be used without prior permission from a module leader, course director or supervisor.
You cannot use a proof-reader for certain modules, like Academic English modules. This information should be included in the module description.
You can read the full university proofreading policy here so you can make an informed decision on whether you think a proof reader will help you based on the way in which you are permitted to hire one.
Where Can I Go For Academic Help?
The Centre for Academic Writing (CAW):
CAW offers a wide range of academic support. They offer 1-2-1’s, workshops, free online guides and resources and more. You can visit them in person by going to the Frederick Lanchester Annex, CV1 5DD. You can also call them on: 024 7688 7902 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Library offers information literacy sessions to students at all levels, including advice on good academic practice and how students can avoid academic misconduct. The Library has a team of Academic Liaison Librarians who offer both class teaching on information skills, workshops on topics like referencing and also 1-1 support to students. Each course has an assigned Librarian who can help with:
Using Locate to search for books
Using databases to search for journal articles and specialist information
Advanced searching techniques
Evaluating information and choosing the best resources for your coursework
Academic integrity including referencing and reference management tools, such as RefWorks and EndNote
Take a look at our Libguides for more information on booking both workshops and also 1-1s.
You can find more information on what resources and support are available at your campus library, visit the pages below:
The Languages Learning Centre:
The Languages Learning Centre - download guides and resources for multiple languages, including English, and find good quality websites that can improve your language skills.
SIGMA delivers mathematical and statistical support to all Coventry University students no matter what subject or assessment they are completing. You can find out more information about SIGMA including the type of support they offer, how to contact them and where they are located via the student portal.
Contact your Faculty Support Office to ask if there are any workshops, study groups or written materials you can access with more information about good academic practice and how to avoid collusion and plagiarism.
There is a Good Academic Practice Quiz on Moodle here.
What If I’m Accused of Academic Misconduct?
Contact Your Students’ Union Advice Service for advice immediately by completing an Enquiry Form. Please attach copies of your invite letter, your Turnitin report if possible and any other evidence file. You can find more information and advice from Your Advice Service about academic misconduct here.