What if you are accused of academic misconduct?
If you are caught undertaking activities that are considered to be academically dishonest (such as cheating, acts of plagiarism, acts of fabrication, recycling content, colluding and falsifying data) your continued enrolment and future employability could be seriously affected.
The severity of penalties imposed depends on whether it is a minor or major breach of the policy (see MOPP Section C/5.3.6).
What's the difference between minor or major academic misconduct?
The following is considered when assessing whether the breach is minor or major:
- Extent - how much of the assessment item is in question (e.g. a few sentences or several paragraphs) and how many marks is the assessment item worth overall (e.g. 10% or 50-60%)?
- Level - at what level you are in your course and how long you have been at QUT? If you are at the beginning of first year you may not be penalised as harshly for the same misdemeanour than someone who has nearly completed their degree
- Knowledge - your exposure to the accepted practices, and cultural norms (for both domestic and international students)
- Discipline - the accepted practices of your discipline and the extent to which these practices have been made clear to you
- Recidivism - whether you have been found to have been academically dishonest in the past.
Minor breaches of academic integrity include, but are not limited to:
- incidental plagiarism (inadequate, incorrect or inconsistent citation and/or referencing of sources, paraphrasing too close to the original) including minor copying of material, such as copying up to a few sentences (note that this may sometimes be inadvertent, for example, if you mistake a verbatim transcript in your notes as your own words)
- copying of a small number of answers to questions at the end of laboratory practicals.
Minor breaches are handled by your Unit Coordinator, who will grade your assessment item as appropriate to the criteria and provide an explanation for the result. The Unit Coordinator may also interview you and explain the standards which are required and what must be done to ensure that those standards are met in the future.
Major breaches of academic integrity are more serious. You will receive a letter detailing the allegations of your misconduct and be invited to attend a meeting with the Faculty Misconduct Committee. You may attend this meeting alone, take a support person or appoint someone else to attend for you. The Misconduct Committee then looks at the evidence of the misconduct and, if proven, will consider the penalties for the misconduct. Penalties that can be imposed include failing the unit, suspension, withholding of exam results, financial restitution or exclusion from the University (see MOPP Section E/8.1.8).
How can I appeal?
If you are penalised for academic misconduct you have the right to appeal the decision but must do so within 10 working days of the date of your letter advising of the outcome (see MOPP Section E/8.1.10).
Your appeal needs to be addressed to the Appeals Committee of the University Academic Board and should include as much information supporting your case as possible. Examples of supporting material include:
- all drafts of your assignment
- study logs or journals
- time management sheets prioritising tasks
- list of websites used and date accessed
- highlighted parts of websites that were used in order to show that proper citation has been applied
- character testimonials
- testimonials from peers who saw you complete the assessment item
- any notes taken for the assessment item
- list of all references used and the dates you accessed them.
The Appeals Committee would consider all relevant evidence and documentation relating to your case and the penalties imposed. They may determine the finding of academic misconduct was wrong, impose a lesser penalty or refer your case back to the relevant misconduct committee for further consideration.
The Secretary to Appeals Committee will advise you of the outcome of the appeal and also inform relevant officers of the university.
These rules can be found in QUT's Manual of Policies and Procedures (MOPP) at MOPP C/5.3 Academic Integrity.
Where can I get more help?
If you need assistance with any part of the process, contact the QUT Student Guild's Advocacy Team.