Plagiarism and Collusion

Penalties for use of Unfair means in assessed work

The phrase "unfair means" designates any practice which gives the student an unfair advantage over the rest of the class, or which allows them to avoid the assessment aims. The most common forms of unfair means are plagiarism, collusion, double submission and use of bought or commissioned work.

- Plagiarism is the copying of another individual´s work without their knowledge and passing it off as one´s own.
- Collusion is when two or more individuals work together to produce a single piece of work and submit it as an individual effort or when an individual discloses parts of their work to another to help them, even if this is at the stage of early drafts.
- Bought or commissioned work is work obtained on request from internet sites, (essay "banks") or from other sources. Submitting such work implies a clear intention to deceive the examiners..
- Double submission is when a student re-uses work they have produced for an earlier assignment in a new piece of work without proper acknowledgment.

The University of Sheffield considers plagiarism, collusion, submission of commissioned work and double submission as serious offences. 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. If use of any of these unfair means is detected in any assessment, on the first occasion students will receive a written warning and the parts of the assignment that have been produced unfairly will not receive any marks.

Any further instances of use of unfair means committed by a student after they have been warned for a prior offence will incur more severe penalties. In addition to receiving no marks for the sections or fragments that were produced unfairly, a second offence will result in a further deduction of marks from the assessed work. By University regulations, we have the discretion to deduct as many marks as we feel appropriate, down to a mark of zero in cases where the use of unfair means is extensive. Serious offenders such as individuals who used unfair means repeatedly or extensively despite a warning will be dealt with through formal University disciplinary procedures, which are independent of the management of the course, and are frequently penalised by the expulsion of the student from the University.

Advice on writing academic essays and avoiding plagiarism will be given during the introductory sessions and the MED6001 module.

Preventing plagiarism

One of the best ways to prevent plagiarism is to give guidance to the students at an early stage, before the first piece of assessed work. Therefore, students are given a teaching session during their first 3 days on academic writing style and this will include details on what is plagiarism and how they can avoid it. This will include examples of unacceptable and acceptable referencing to papers and reviews. They will also be made aware of the seriousness of the offence, and the divisional policy and procedures when plagiarism is detected.

Identifying plagiarism

Examiners and supervisors should note the following indicators of possible plagiarism:

1. The style of writing, font or language changes within the coursework, particularly between the introduction or conclusion and the main body of the text
2. The coursework contains highly specific language or jargon that the student is unlikely to understand
3. The coursework contains references that are unavailable in the library or unknown to the supervisor in their given field
4. The coursework doesn´t quite answer the question set
5. The coursework resembles closely that of another student.

Where there is ground for suspicion that plagiarism was committed, examiners or supervisors should contact the module leader, who will then liaise with the course tutor to determine what course of action should be taken.