Professional behaviour

All students in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry & Health should ensure that they read, understand and comply with the University’s Code of Practice for Research Degree Programmes in particular to the responsibilities of PGR students which are outlined therein.

If your conduct falls short of expectations and causes concern, your supervisor will address the situation using our Faculty's Policy Document on Professional Behaviour among Postgraduate Research (PGR) Students.

Plagiarism, Collusion and the Use of Unfair Means

The basic principle underlying the preparation of any piece of academic work is that the work submitted must be the student’s own work.

Plagiarism, submitting bought or commissioned work, double submission (or self-plagiarism) collusion and fabrication of results are permitted because they violate this principle. Rules about these forms of cheating apply to all assessed and non-assessed work.

The following six examples of unfair means in non-invigilated examinations are serious academic offences and may result in penalties that could have a lasting effect on a student´s career, both at University and beyond. These are the official University definitions which are used in information and documentation for students.

  1. Plagiarism (either intentional or unintentional) is the using of 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 piece of work 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 assessed work 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 piece of work or part of it. Normally credit will already have been given for this work.
  4. Collusion is where two or more students 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.
  6. Facilitating the use of unfair means is where any student assists a fellow student in using any of the forms of unfair means defined above, for example in submitting bought or commissioned work.

To avoid using any unfair means in this way, any work submitted must be your own, and must not include the work of any other person, unless it is properly acknowledged and referenced.


It is considered acceptable to include third party copyright material in a printed thesis without gaining copyright clearance from the holder but submission of the electronic thesis requires prior clearance to be obtained.

If the material concerned is an insubstantial short quotation from a published work that has been acknowledged and referenced accurately it will not be necessary to seek permission from the copyright holder. This is allowed under `fair dealing´ exceptions under the Act for 'non-commercial private research' or 'criticism and review'. Copyright law does not define what is meant by insubstantial use of short extracts or quotations so it may be best to seek permission if in doubt.

In order to seek permission students should contact the copyright holder. If the material is from a published book or journal it is best to contact the publisher of the work in the first instance. Many large publishers have Rights and Permissions departments used to dealing with copyright clearance; email addresses can often be found on publishers' websites. It is important to realise that no response DOES NOT mean permission is granted. Where permission to use the third party copyright material is obtained, students should make sure that clear acknowledgements are provided within the thesis.

If clearance is not obtained to use substantial sections of copyright material that are considered essential by the student to be used in their entirety, there are two options: i) embargo the electronic thesis, though submission to the University in this format is still required, making the printed copy fully available; or ii) edit the electronic thesis - but not the printed copy - so that it complies with third-party copyright requirements, clearly indicating the excisions made.

Further information can be found at: Copyright guide: eTheses

All newly-registered research students are required to undertake training on using copyright materials. You can use the Library's online tutorial


Turnitin is a text-matching tool which checks a document against a range of websites as well as other students' work already submitted to their data base. An originality report is created, highlighting matches between the student's work and their source material. However Turnitin can only signpost concerns: the decision as to whether a piece of work meets required standards or not is ultimately down to academic judgement. Some departments use Turnitin as a tool to help students learn about referencing and academic writing techniques.

The University has agreed that as from the 1st Feb 2014, all theses for higher degrees should be submitted to Turnitin. The resultant digital receipt that is generated by Turnitin, should be submitted with the completed thesis and will be used to assess the use of unfair means.  For further details please click here.

Further information about Turnitin can be obtained from the CiCS Turnitin Support website at: http://www.shef.ac.uk/cics/turnitin

The Library have also developed a useful tool and the tutorial can be found on the following web link - Plagiarism Tutorial