1. Understand and practice academic integrity
Become aware of the types of academic integrity breaches and what motivates students to cheat. Lead by example by including proper references in class handouts and presentations.
Academic misconduct: breaches of academic integrity
RMIT University Statute No.1 identifies academic misconduct as one of three forms of misconduct by students. Student Conduct Regulations (Part 2, Division 2) states that a student commits academic misconduct if he or she:
- Cheats, or attempts to gain an unfair academic advantage in any assessment task,
- Impersonates, or allows himself or herself to be impersonated by another for any assessment task,
- Plagiarises, or submits the work of another person as the student’s own work,
- Takes into, or uses in connection with, any assessment task any material or device other than material or a device specifically permitted by the University,
- Obtains from, or gives to a student during any assessment session information relating to the assessment task without prior approval,
- Commits a breach of the research code and the University’s published standards for conduct of ethical and responsible research,
- Behaves in any manner that may provide a misleading basis for an assessment task,
- Knowingly enables another student to plagiarise his or her work.
Depending on the circumstances of the case, the actions of the student who ‘shared’ their work may also be handled as academic misconduct.
Plagiarism happens when students present the work or idea of another person as their own. It is a form of cheating and is a serious academic offence that may lead to expulsion from the University. Plagiarised material can be written, graphic, visual and digital coding, including electronic data and oral presentations.
Examples of plagiarism include, but are not restricted to:
- Submitting work that someone else has created as one’s own (including computer code)
- Copying a whole or part of another student’s work and pasting into own work without referencing the original work
- Copying sentences or paragraphs, tables, diagrams, designs, artwork, computer files, computer programming or formulae from books, journals, reports, theses, websites, conference papers, course notes and other publications without proper citation
- Paraphrasing sentences, paragraphs, ideas or themes without proper citation
- Piecing together text from one or more sources and adding only linking sentences
- Copying text in an open book exam without proper citation.
The University uses authenticity detection strategies and software to monitor student plagiarism. Plagiarism is a serious academic offence that may lead to expulsion from the University.
In an academic context, collusion takes place when a student collaborates on an assessment task with other people without your knowledge or permission, and then presents this work as their own. Collusion is most likely to occur in assessments involving group work. You will need to provide written and unambiguous instructions to your students on how to avoid collusion when collaborating on an assessment task.
Contract cheating happens when a student engages someone else to complete the assessment task, and then present this work as their own. It is the most serious breach of academic integrity.
There is a growing number of academic essay writing services (also called essay mills or ghostwriting services) that offer plagiarism-free assessments for a price. If the work provided by the contractor is original and not copied from other sources, it may not be detectable by text matching tools such as Turnitin. You must use a variety of strategies when detecting plagiarism and not become dependent on text matching tools alone.
Why students plagiarise
Unintentional plagiarism happens when students
- have inadequate academic writing and referencing skills,
- are unclear about teacher’s expectations and marking criteria,
- don’t understand what plagiarism is,
- have a different attitude towards plagiarism due to upbringing or cultural differences (Kayaoğlu et al., 2015).
Some students will resort to plagiarism, even if they know what plagiarism is and are aware of its consequences. There are many reasons why students may decide to take that risk. Some of these are:
- Poor time and workload management skills
- Fear of failure
- Pressure to get good marks
- Seeing the 'cheaters' getting better marks and not getting caught
- Easy access to essay mills and code sharing websites
This is a selection of resources and research papers from the Support and teaching resources page for you to explore.
- Good Practice Note: Addressing contract cheating to safeguard academic integrity (PDF) (TEQSA, October 2017)
- [White Paper] Defining Plagiarism: The Plagiarism Spectrum (Turnitin)
- Contract cheating: a brief review of literature 2007-2015 (PDF 442KB)
- Plagiarism in Higher Education - Custom essay writing services: an exploration and next steps for the UK higher education sector (PDF 208KB)
- The Ghostwriting Business: Trade Standards, Practices, and Secrets
- Ghostwriters guaranteeing grades? The quality of online ghostwriting services available to tertiary students in Australia
- Assessment resources for RMIT staff (the Learning Lab)
- Cheating in Academic Institutions: A Decade of Research
- Copy/Paste: The Joys of Plagiarism
- In their own words: a qualitative study of the reasons Australian university students plagiarize
- Exploring university students' perceptions of plagiarism: a focus group study
Here are examples of the ghostwriting websites: