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Dishonest Practice Procedures

Category Academic
Type Procedure
Approved by Council, 14 December 2004
Date Procedure Took Effect 1 January 2005
Last Approved Revision 9 August 2011
Sponsor Director, Academic Services
Responsible Officer Manager, Student Administration
Review Date 1 August 2016

Purpose

The purposes of these Procedures are

  • to provide working definitions of dishonest practice, and Level One and Level 2 plagiarism
  • to codify the authority to deal with cases of alleged dishonest practice
  • to set out procedures and responsibilities for dealing with cases of alleged plagiarism
  • to set out procedures and responsibilities for dealing with cases of alleged dishonest practice of other types, including those which arise in final examinations
  • to codify the possible penalties which can be imposed when dishonest practice is found to have been committed

Organisational Scope

These Procedures apply to all staff and students of the University.

Definitions

Definitions of Level One and Level Two plagiarism are contained in the body of the document.

Policy Content

1. What is Dishonest Practice?

Dishonest practice is seeking to gain for oneself, or assisting another person to gain, an academic advantage by deception or other unfair means. These Dishonest Practice Procedures apply to all of the forms of assessment referred to in the Examination Regulations, and ‘Dishonest Practice’ includes, but is not limited to:

(a) Impersonation: getting someone else to participate in any assessment on one’s behalf, including getting someone else to sit any test or examination on one’s behalf.

(b) Falsification: falsifying the results of one’s research; presenting as true or accurate material that one knows to be false or inaccurate.

(c) Plagiarism (including being party to someone else’s plagiarism): copying or paraphrasing another’s work, whether intentionally or otherwise, and presenting it as one’s own. All students have a responsibility to be aware of acceptable academic practice in relation to the use of material prepared by others, and for taking all reasonable steps necessary to ensure that no breach of acceptable practice occurs.

(d) Use of unauthorised materials; taking any notes, books or other material into a test or examination unless expressly permitted to do so; taking any calculators, computers or other equipment into a test or examination unless expressly permitted to do so.

(e) Unauthorised collaboration: presenting group work in any form of assessment where individual answers are required. This does not include assessment tasks where students are expressly required or permitted to present the results of collaborative work. Nor does it preclude collaborative effort in research or study for assignments, tests or examinations; but unless it is explicitly stated otherwise, each student’s answers should be in their own words.

(f) Assisting others to commit dishonest practice: impersonating another student in a test or examination; writing an assignment for another student; giving answers to another student in a test or examination by any direct or indirect means; allowing another student to copy answers in a test, examination or any other assessment.

2. Authority for dealing with Dishonest Practice

For the purpose of these Procedures and the Discipline Regulations, any dishonest practice occurring in the preparation or submission of any work, whether in the course of an examination or not, which counts towards the attainment of a pass in any subject, shall be deemed to be dishonest practice in connection with an examination.

(a) Complaints in relation to doctoral degrees shall be dealt with by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise).

(b) Complaints of plagiarism considered to come within the definition of Level One plagiarism may be handled by the relevant Head of Department in the first instance.

(c) All other complaints, including Level Two plagiarism, shall be referred to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Division within which the examination or assessment was conducted.

Definitions of the two levels of plagiarism:

Level One Plagiarism – Head of Department
  • A first offence where the student’s actions may be regarded as inadvertent or naïve and contributed to by a lack of understanding of acceptable academic practice
Level Two Plagiarism – Pro-Vice-Chancellor
  • A repeat offence
  • Actions capable of being seen as deliberate
  • Circumstances where the student can reasonably have been expected to understand acceptable academic practice

3. Procedure for dealing with Level One plagiarism

Lecturer or other member of teaching staff

The Lecturer or other member of teaching staff identifying the existence of a possible offence informs the Head of Department. (If the possible offence occurs in a paper taught across several departments, the Heads of Department may agree to nominate the Course Coordinator as their nominee in this situation.)

Head of Department (or Nominee – refer Note 1 at the end of these Procedures)

The Head of the Department in which the alleged plagiarism occurs will be responsible for ensuring that the allegations or suspicions are the subject of a preliminary investigation as promptly as is feasible; and if the initial evidence warrants the matter being considered further, the Head of Department or nominee must, in the first instance, report the case immediately to the Manager, Student Administration. This is to be done by completing the appropriate reporting template (obtained from student.admin@otago.ac.nz) and emailing it to student.admin@otago.ac.nz. The Office of the Manager, Student Administration, will cross-reference the case against the database of all dishonest practice cases and respond (within two working days of receipt of notification of the case) as to whether the student has been involved in dishonest practice at the University in the past.

1. On receipt of this information the Head of Department will either:

(a) Refer the matter to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor or nominee for formal investigation and determination (Refer Note 2 at end); or

(b) Where the case is one in relation to which the Head of Department is satisfied he or she has authority to act under Clause 5 of the Academic Statute, proceed to investigate the matter, or appoint a nominee to do so (Refer Note 1).

2. Where the Head of Department or nominee proceeds to investigate Level One, he or she will:

(a) Inform the student in writing of the subject matter of the complaint, making reference to the possible penalties under Clause 5 of the Academic Statute if the complaint is sustained and the possibility that the matter may subsequently be referred to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (in which case additional penalties may be appropriate), and offering the student the opportunity to be heard, in person (accompanied by a support person if desired) or in writing, by the Head of Department or nominee as part of the formal investigation. A letter template is available for those who wish to use it. This can be obtained by contacting student.admin@otago.ac.nz;

(b) Send a copy of the above letter to the Manager, Student Administration, for information;

(c) Formally investigate and either:

(i) determine the matter in accordance with Clause 5 of the Academic Statute or

(ii) refer the matter on for further consideration by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (in which case the Manager, Student Administration, is to be advised that the matter has been referred on);

(d) Except where the matter has been referred to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, determine the appropriate penalty and inform the Manager, Student Administration, in writing of the outcome. Any penalty which is to be imposed is limited to those detailed in Clause 5 of the Academic Statute. Please refer to the Penalty Schedule detailed later in these Procedures. (Where possible, the steps 2 (a) – (d) should be completed in a two-week timeframe.)

3. The Head of Department or nominee shall keep detailed records of all cases handled to facilitate the resolution of any dispute and also for statistical and reporting purposes.

The Manager, Student Administration

4. The Manager, Student Administration, will:

(a) Receive notification of the Head of Department’s decision;

(b) Inform the student in writing of the outcome and, where appropriate, the student’s right to request a review of the decision by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor or nominee. The Head of Department will receive a copy of this letter. (This step should be completed within two working days of receiving the notification as in 4(a).)

4. Procedure for dealing with all other cases of Dishonest Practice, including Level Two plagiarism

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (or Nominee – refer Note 1 at the end of these Procedures)

1. In all other cases of dishonest practice, including level two plagiarism, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor or nominee will:

(a) Inform the student in writing of the subject matter of the complaint, making reference to the possible penalties under Clause 5 of the Academic Statute if the complaint is sustained, and offering the student the opportunity to be heard, in person (accompanied by a support person if desired) or in writing, by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor or nominee as part of the formal investigation. A letter template is available for those who wish to use it. This can be obtained by contacting student.admin@otago.ac.nz;

(b) Send a copy of the above letter to the Manager, Student Administration, for information;

(c) Formally investigate and determine case in accordance with Clause 5 of the Academic Statute;

(d) Inform the Manager, Student Administration, of the outcome and any penalty which is to be imposed. (Where possible, the steps 1(a) – (d) should be completed within a two-week timeframe.)

The Manager, Student Administration

2. The Manager, Student Administration, will:

(a) Receive notification of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor’s decision;

(b) Inform the student in writing of the outcome and, where appropriate, the student’s right to appeal the decision by writing to the Registrar and Secretary to Council within seven days of the notification to the student of the outcome. The appropriate Divisional Office and Head of Department will receive copies of this letter. (This step should be completed within two working days of receiving the notification as in 2(a).)

(c) Take any other action required to put into effect the decision of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor;

(d) In January each year, review cases for the previous calendar year (including those returned by HODs), checking for trends, repeat cases etc;

(e) Produce six monthly reports for Pro-Vice-Chancellors;

(f) Write annual discipline reports for Pro-Vice-Chancellors.

5. Dishonest Practice in Examinations

Possible offences occurring within a Departmental-Run Test or Examination or within a Test or Examination for a paper taught across several departments:

The process to be followed is the same as that for possible offences occurring within a Final Examination, omitting steps (e ) and (f), with the Head of Department undertaking the role of the Group Leader, Examinations, and then referring the matter to the relevant Pro-Vice-Chancellor. If the Head of Department is not available and no formal delegation applies, the interview should be conducted by the Senior Academic present in the Department.

(If the possible offence occurs in a paper taught across several departments, the Heads of Department may agree to nominate the Course Coordinator as their nominee in this situation.)

Possible offences occurring within a Final Examination:

Supervisor in Examination Room

1. Any possible offence occurring within a Final Examination will be reported immediately, normally by the Supervisor in the examination room, to the Group Leader, Examinations.

Group Leader, Examinations (or Nominee)

2. The Group Leader, Examinations, will:

(a) Obtain whatever evidence might be possible in the circumstances, including asking for a written report from the Supervisor(s) concerned;

(b) Interview the student(s), if practicable, immediately following his/her/their departure from the examination room. This will include inviting the student to make a written statement, and informing the student that the script will be impounded pending the completion of the investigation;

(c) Forward a copy of the script to the department so that this may be marked while any investigation is taking place, the result to be impounded pending completion of the investigation;

(d) Issue the student with a signed and dated copy of a standard notification which will briefly summarise the subject matter of the complaint, explain that the matter will be referred to the appropriate Pro-Vice-Chancellor (or nominee) and that the student has the right to be heard before a decision is made, and make reference to the possible penalties if the complaint is sustained. This notification template can be obtained from student.admin@otago.ac.nz;

(e) Ask the Student Records Office to add ‘Result deferred’ immediately to the student’s record until a decision has been reached and, if applicable, a mark awarded;

(f) Pass all information relating to the instance to the Manager, Student Administration.

The Manager, Student Administration

3. The Manager, Student Administration, will:

(a) Refer the matter to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (or nominee) of the appropriate Division for consideration;

(b) Receive notification of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor’s decision in due course;

(c) Inform the student in writing of the outcome and, where appropriate, the student’s right to appeal the decision by writing to the Registrar and Secretary to Council within seven days of the notification to the student of the outcome. The appropriate Divisional Office and Head of Department will receive copies of this letter. (This step should be completed within two working days of receiving the notification as in 3(b).)

(d) Take any other action required to put into effect the decision of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor.

6. Penalty Schedule

Note: Penalties applied should take into account the level of intent in the committing of the offence. Advice can be sought from the Manager, Student Administration.

Level One plagiarism offence – possible penalties

  • Warning

  • Submission of alternative work or resubmission of the piece of work concerned
  • Withhold or withdraw the granting of terms in the subject concerned
  • Reduced marks for work submitted
  • Zero marks for work submitted
  • Zero marks for work submitted plus a reduction in final examination marks

Level Two plagiarism and all other Dishonest Practice offences – possible penalties

  • Warning
  • Submission of alternative work or resubmission of the piece of work concerned
  • Withhold or withdraw the granting of terms in the subject concerned
  • Reduced marks for work submitted
  • Zero marks for work submitted
  • Zero marks for work submitted, plus reduction in final examination marks
  • Zero marks for the entire paper
  • Cancellation of any pass or passes (including those in special examinations) for any other part of the student’s course undertaken in the same semester/summer school (in consultation with other PVCs, as required)
  • Exclusion from the University (this penalty requires a written recommendation to the Vice-Chancellor with whom the authority to exclude/suspend rests)

7. Dishonest Practice in relation to the preparation or submission of a thesis for a doctoral degree

All complaints relating to dishonest practice in relation to the preparation or submission of a thesis by a candidate for a doctoral degree shall be referred to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise).

8. Important Notes

(1) In cases where a Head of Department or a Pro-Vice-Chancellor delegates authority for considering either level one plagiarism or level two plagiarism and all other cases of dishonest practice to another senior member of staff, this delegation should be formalised and recorded within the Department/School or Divisional Office. A copy of this should be forwarded to the Manager, Student Administration, for the official record.

(2) Other than where authority has been specifically delegated, it is not appropriate for any other staff member to conclude that an alleged instance of dishonest practice is proven or otherwise, nor to impose any penalty directly. Clause 5 of the Academic Statute is explicit that this authority rests with either the Head of Department, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor or the Deputy Vice-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) depending upon the type of alleged offence involved. Heads of Department are responsible for ensuring that all staff in a position to identify dishonest practice are fully aware of the Regulations.

(3) Instances of dishonest practice are to be reported to the Manager, Student Administration, to enable the monitoring of instances across the University, the equity of decision-making and the nature of penalties imposed. It also allows for the tracking of previous offenders.

(4) From time to time the University is made aware that an Otago student on an official University exchange to a partner university has been sanctioned for dishonest practice at that partner institution. Where this occurs, it is appropriate that this be recorded in the database kept by the Office of the Manager, Student Administration, for referencing purposes, subject to the University being satisfied with the circumstances that led to the partner university’s dishonest practice sanction. The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) is responsible for relaying information on specific cases to the Office of the Manager, Student Administration.

(5) These procedures are to be followed in all cases.

Further information and a flowchart

Further information may be found in the Academic Statue.

Advice regarding the administration of the Dishonest Practice Procedures is available from the Manager, Student Administration.

Download a copy of the Dishonest Practice Procedures Summary Flowchart Diagram (in PDF format)

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