Use of unfair means

IMPORTANT: You should thoroughly read and understand this information on unfair means. Early in your first year we will ask you to sign and submit a declaration to say that you have read this information and understand it. It is very important that if you are unsure about what is meant by the use of unfair means and the implications for your work you consult a member of staff, for example, the module leader, your year tutor, your personal tutor or your project supervisor.

Your assessed work is the main way in which you demonstrate that you have acquired the Sheffield Graduate skills and attributes and can apply them. Using unfair means in any assessment is dishonest and also means that you cannot demonstrate that you have acquired these essential academic skills and attributes.

What constitutes unfair means?

What constitutes unfair means?

The basic principle underlying the preparation of any piece of academic work is that the work submitted must be your own work. Plagiarism, submitting bought or commissioned work, double submission (or self plagiarism), collusion and fabrication of results are not allowed because they violate this principle. Rules about these forms of cheating apply to all assessed and non-assessed work.

1. Plagiarism (either intentional or unintentional) is using the ideas or work of another person (including experts and fellow or former students) and submitting them as your own. It is considered dishonest and unprofessional. Plagiarism may take the form of cutting and pasting, taking or closely paraphrasing ideas, passages, sections, sentences, paragraphs, drawings, graphs and other graphical material from books, articles, internet sites or any other source and submitting them for assessment without appropriate acknowledgement.

2. Submitting bought or commissioned work (for example from internet sites, essay “banks” or “mills”) is an extremely serious form of plagiarism. This may take the form of buying or commissioning either the whole assignment or part of it and implies a clear intention to deceive the examiners. The University also takes an extremely serious view of any student who sells, offers to sell or passes on their own assignments to other students.

3. Double submission (or self plagiarism) is resubmitting previously submitted work on one or more occasions (without proper acknowledgement). This may take the form of copying either the whole assignment or part of it. Normally credit will already have been given for this work.

4. Collusion is where two or more people work together to produce a piece of work, all or part of which is then submitted by each of them as their own individual work. This includes passing on work in any format to another student. Collusion does not occur where students involved in group work are encouraged to work together to produce a single piece of work as part of the assessment process.

5. Fabrication is submitting work (for example, practical or laboratory work) any part of which is untrue, made up, falsified or fabricated in any way. This is regarded as fraudulent and dishonest.

How can I avoid the use of unfair means?

How can I avoid the use of unfair means?

  • Any work submitted must be your own and must not include the work of any other person, unless it is properly acknowledged and referenced.
  • As part of your degree you will learn how to reference sources appropriately in order to avoid plagiarism. This is an essential skill that you will need throughout your University career and beyond. You should follow any guidance on the preparation of assessed work given by the academic department setting the assignment.
  • You are required to declare that all work submitted is entirely your own work. You will be asked to attach a declaration form to all pieces of submitted work (including work submitted online). You will be informed how to do this.
  • If you have any concerns about appropriate academic practices or if you are experiencing any personal difficulties which are affecting your work, you should consult your personal tutor or a member of staff involved with that unit of study.

The following websites provide additional information on referencing appropriately and avoiding unfair means:

Reference management software
Writing Advisory Service

Detection of unfair means

Detection of unfair means

The University subscribes to a national plagiarism detection service, Turnitin, which helps academic staff identify the original source of material submitted by students. This means that academic staff have access to specialist software that searches a database of reference material gathered from professional publications, student essay websites and other work submitted by students. It is also a resource which can help tutors to advise students on ways of improving their referencing techniques. Your work is likely to be submitted to this service.

What happens if I use unfair means?

What happens if I use unfair means?

Any form of unfair means is treated as a serious academic offence and action may be taken under the Discipline Regulations. For a student registered on a professionally accredited programme of study, action may also be taken under the Fitness to Practice Regulations. Where unfair means is found to have been used, the University may impose penalties ranging from awarding no grade for the piece of work through to expulsion from the University in extremely serious cases.