Your Advice Service

Academic Misconduct Case Studies

Academic misconduct is any action that would unfairly lead to you having an advantage in assessed work. However, understanding what is and what is not academic misconduct can be confusing. To try and help you develop your knowledge of what is considered academic misconduct, Your Advice Service has written some case studies of the academic misconduct case, outcome and penalty.

cov uni londonCoventrydagenhamgreenwichLondonScarborough
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Case Study 1:

Richard and Sam are flatmates studying the same course in their second year.

Richard submitted his essay last semester and got a good mark.

Sam had a resit this semester and struggled.

He asked Richard for his work to get an idea of how the essay should be structured. Richard refused at first but when Sam emailed him a few times, he eventually agreed.

A few weeks later both Richard and Sam received emails accusing them of Serious Collusion. They are invited to separate Academic Conduct Officer meetings.

During Richard’s meeting, the Academic Conduct Officer explained that a substantial part of the submission is identical in both essays. The Academic Conduct Officer showed both assessments to Richard and pointed out the similar sections. Richard explained what happened and that that he didn’t realise Sam would copy his work and produced his his submission receipt and the messages from Sam.

Outcome for Richard: First Offence, Poor Academic Practice,

Penalty: Richard keeps his mark but receives mandatory training and a Faculty advice letter. Richard still gets a penalty as you shouldn’t share your work with anyone. However, he was able to prove that the work was his own and that he didn’t know that Sam would copy the work.

Outcome for Sam: First Offence, Serious. A substantial part of his assessment was copied from another student.

Penalty: Zero mark for the component, mandatory training and a formal warning letter. Sam will have to resit the component capped at 40%. Sam gets a more severe penalty as the work he submitted wasn’t his own.


Case Study 2:

Nadia is an international student studying a Master’s degree. She uses some quotes from other sources in her first assignment to show that she’s researched the topic, but doesn’t cite the authors. Several weeks after she submitted the assignment she received a letter saying that she is accused of a Moderately Serious case of Plagiarism. She is confused, and worried that she will be expelled from the University.

During the meeting the Academic Conduct Officer explained that Nadia should have cited and referenced her sources as it is not clear which parts are her own work and which are others. Nadia explained that problems with her visa meant that she started her course late and missed some training on academic writing. The Academic Conduct Officer explained that because Nadia hadn’t received feedback before, this will be a Preliminary case and the penalty will be less severe.

The Academic Conduct Officer recommended some academic writing training which will stop Nadia having problems in future and hopefully, improve her grades. They told her to look at more advice on the Library and Centre for Academic Writing website to help with referencing.

Outcome: Preliminary offence, Moderately Serious.

Penalty: Nadia’s assignment will be marked with the affected sections removed and she will receive mandatory training and a Faculty advice letter. However, if her assignment is not strong enough to pass, she will need to resit the assignment which will be capped at 40%.


Case Study 3:

Yang did a lot of research for his assessment and copied and pasted some quotes into the draft without citations. He accidentally submitted the first draft by accident instead of the final draft. He received a letter saying that he is accused of a Moderately Serious case of Plagiarism.

During his meeting Yang explained what happened and shows the time stamped final draft, a second draft which he submitted earlier, and an email which he sent to his personal tutor, as evidence to prove his version of events. The Academic Conduct Officer explained that he should never copy and paste and that he should keep track of the sources which he used. They recommended some software to help with this.

Outcome: No Case to Answer. Yang’s final draft will be marked on merit.

Penalty: None.

However, if Yang hadn’t been able to prove that he did the original work by the deadline and that it was a genuine mistake, the offence would likely have been upheld and he would have needed to resit the assessment.


Case Study 4:

Lucy was unwell when working on a report and submitted it in a rush. She downloaded some diagrams and used them without including any references or citations. Her Turnitin report showed 15 % similarity.

Lucy received a letter saying that she is accused of a Moderately Serious case of Plagiarism. She doesn’t understand why she’s been invited to an Academic Conduct meeting when the Turnitin score was so low.

During the meeting the Academic Conduct Officer explained that there is no “safe” Turnitin score and that Turnitin matches written work, not pictures or diagrams. The Academic Conduct Officer showed the article that the diagrams originally came from. The diagrams are a significant part of Lucy’s report and are not her own. It stated in the brief that the report was focused on the student’s own ideas. The Academic Conduct Officer referred Lucy to training which will help her reference and recommends software to help her with this.

Outcome: First offence, Moderately Serious.

Penalty: Zero mark for this assessment, mandatory training and Formal warning letter

Lucy could have applied for an extension using an Extenuating Circumstance Request if she was struggling to meet the deadline and had mitigating circumstances. She will need to resit, which will be capped at 40%.


What support is available?

If you are looking for help with an allegation of academic misconduct, please contact Your Advice Service as soon as possible upon receipt of your invitation.

Attach your meeting invite letter, a copy of your Turnitin Report and any other evidence sent with your invite. We can help you prepare for the meeting and support you in the meeting, subject to Advice Caseworker availability. You must give 24 hours’ notice to the meeting organiser if you are being supported as outlined in your invite email.


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