Services for Students

Investigation by an Academic Misconduct Officer

 

The following should be read in conjunction with the Academic Misconduct Policy and Procedure:

Investigation by an Academic Misconduct Officer 

The Academic Misconduct Officer will consider the evidence and may question appropriate people to gain additional information. 

The Academic Misconduct Officer will ask the student to attend a meeting, giving the student at least 5 calendar days’ notice [letter template available here]. Reasonable requests for a different notice period will be considered.  Evidence to support the request may be required. Meetings may be held in person or online. For cases of suspected collusion, joint or group allegations may be considered at a single meeting with all students in attendance.

In the case of a student taking examinations at the time the investigation is initiated, notice of the meeting will be given after the student has finished their examinations. Meetings will not take place whilst the student has ongoing exams. The student is entitled to have a supporter attend the meeting with them. The supporter must be either: an Education Adviser or other representative from the SU (or equivalent at UNNC/UMNC), a fellow UoN student, a member of staff, or a Union representative (e.g., BMA, RCN). The supporter may take notes on the student’s behalf, make representations and ask questions on the student’s behalf, but may not answer questions on the student’s behalf. The supporter cannot attend the meeting in the student’s absence. The student should inform their School/Department who will be attending as supporter in advance of the meeting. It is not appropriate for a student to be supported by a fellow student who is being investigated for the same suspected collusion.

If the student does not respond to a written request to attend the meeting, the Academic Misconduct Officer may continue with the meeting without the student’s involvement and, provided the student has been given adequate opportunity to make representations, make a decision. The student will be sent written notification of the outcome.

The meeting may be attended by a third-party, such as a module convenor, staff member from Student Services, personal tutor or an Examinations Officer, who should take notes.

The student will be notified in advance of the meeting of any other people who will be attending (for example to provide evidence or further information at the Academic Misconduct Officer’s request).

Ordinarily, the student will be informed of the nature of the suspected misconduct and provided with the evidence of suspected misconduct in advance of the meeting, so the student is clear regarding the allegations. However, this may not be applicable in all cases, particularly concerning cases of false authorship and collusion. In cases where an Academic Misconduct Officer believes it more appropriate to inform the student of the details of the allegation in person, it will be ensured that the student is not put at a disadvantage as a result. 

In the meeting the Academic Misconduct Officer will:  

i. Ensure the student is aware of the definition of academic misconduct.

ii. Outline the Regulations on Academic Misconduct, including the procedure and possible outcomes.

iii. Explain the reasons for suspecting the student of academic misconduct and ask the student if the student understands these reasons. All material relating to the case should be made available to the student.

  • For cases of suspected plagiarism, where possible, the evidence will not rely solely on a Turnitin text matching report but should refer to the student's assessment and (unless unavailable for good reason) the original source(s) to demonstrate the extent of any plagiarism.
  • For cases where the authorship of the assessment is contested, the meeting will be conducted in the manner of oral questioning: the student will be asked questions regarding the assessment subject to the allegation. This will not be used as a form of assessment, only as a form of questioning as part of the investigation.

Questions will be designed to give the student the opportunity to demonstrate that they are the sole author of the piece of work. Students may be requested to provide drafts of their work and explain the development of the assessment. For these cases it is recommended a subject specialist is present at the meeting.

It is recognised that there are factors which may impact a student’s ability to respond to questioning, such as spoken English Language ability, a Specific Learning Difference or stress. Any decision made will take into account all available evidence (including responses to questioning) and a decision will be made on the balance of probabilities.

iv. Ask the student about any training/guidance they had received relating to academic misconduct and, in the case of suspected plagiarism, determine whether, upon submission of the piece of work, the student had declared that the work was their own. The Academic Misconduct Officer should also ascertain what training/guidance was available to the student.

v. Ask the student to respond, including providing details of any mitigating circumstances. Mitigating circumstances will not exempt a student from a finding of academic misconduct. However, if the School is satisfied that the mitigating circumstances have a direct impact on the case they may take this into account when determining a proportionate penalty, should academic misconduct be deemed to have taken place.

vi. Ask the student to provide a brief, written, signed statement which:

• acknowledges what it is the student is alleged to have done

• acknowledges why what is alleged counts as academic misconduct

• provides the student’s own account of events, which may include an explanation for their behaviour.

vii. The Academic Misconduct Officer will permit the student up to 5 working days to provide the written statement. If the student fails to submit the statement within the timescale, the Academic Misconduct Officer will proceed based on the findings of the investigation. A final determination or penalty will not be given to a student until the student has had the opportunity to submit a written statement within the permitted timescales. However, if the Academic Misconduct Officer is satisfied during the course of the meeting that academic misconduct has not occurred, it is not necessary to request this statement and the student may be verbally notified of this finding. Additionally, if the student clearly states, in writing,  they do not wish to submit a statement, the Academic Misconduct Officer may proceed with making a decision.

Once the meeting has taken place and the student has submitted their written statement (where they have chosen to submit one), the Academic Misconduct Officer will write to the student summarising the case, giving their decision and the supporting rationale for the decision and providing details of further action and/or penalties, as applicable. 

 

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