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Last updated: 20 Jul 2021 3:23pm

Academic Integrity & Misconduct

Academic Integrity is the commitment to, and demonstration of, honest and moral behaviour in an academic setting.

As a City student you are expected to uphold academic integrity and good academic practice by demonstrating authentic and ethical behaviour and practice in all of your academic work.

How we define Academic Misconduct

Academic Misconduct is any action that produces an improper advantage for you in relation to your assessment(s) or deliberately and unnecessarily disadvantages other students.

It can be committed intentionally or accidentally, so please make sure you read and follow the guidance carefully. City actively pursues all cases of suspected academic misconduct.

City Students’ Union (SU) have worked with the University, including academic staff from across all Schools, to produce a short video which explains academic integrity, the consequences of academic misconduct and how to avoid misconduct such as plagiarism, collusion and cheating.

For the SU Video and the full SU Academic Integrity & Misconduct Campaign, please click here.

How we manage Academic Misconduct

City’s Academic Integrity & Misconduct Policy and Guidance sets out the process which is triggered if we suspect that you have not upheld these principles and have committed Academic Misconduct.

We will manage and consider cases of alleged Academic Misconduct in accordance with the Senate Regulations*: Assessment Regulations (Senate Regulation 19). The regulations are designed to ensure that students suspected of Academic Misconduct are provided with an independent and transparent system that is both efficient and fair.

This system safeguards the integrity of our awards as well as the interests of the majority of students who work hard for their award through their own efforts.

*Due to the impact of Covid-19, further details on how Academic Misconduct cases may be managed in 2020/21 can be found here.

You can also find more information about the measures we are taking to help you succeed in your studies in 2020/21 here: Mitigating the Impacts of Covid-19 on your Studies in 2020/21 | Student Hub | City, University of London.

Avoiding Academic Misconduct:

Avoiding Academic Misconduct means upholding your Academic Integrity. This means conducting all aspects of your academic life in a professional manner. It involves:

  • taking responsibility for your own work
  • respecting the rights of other scholars, fully acknowledging the work of others wherever it has contributed to your own to avoid plagiarism
  • ensuring that your own work is reported honestly
  • supporting others in their own efforts to behave with academic integrity
  • avoiding actions which seek to give you an unfair advantage over others
  • following the requirements of the University Assessment Regulations (Senate Regulation 19).

You can find more information about the support available to you during your studies and how to avoid academic misconduct on the Student Academic Skills and Wellbeing Moodle page.

Types of Academic Misconduct

Contract Cheating

Contract cheating is one of the most serious forms of academic misconduct.

It is defined by the University as ‘the buying and selling of work by with the intention of the work to be used as your own or by another student’ and is an example of severe academic misconduct.

Contract cheating differs from ‘collusion’, such as working together with other students on your course to submit the same or similar work. It involves explicitly contacting other third parties to do the work for you, usually bespoke websites/companies.

Services could include writing your essay, doing research for you, a level of proofreading which involves re-writing your work, translating your work into English for you, or impersonating you in exams.

What happens if contract cheating is committed

If students are found to have committed contract cheating they are very likely to be referred to a Disciplinary Panel. The outcome is often expulsion from the University. This is because contract cheating is particularly dishonest, and includes an element of deception/fraud.

How to avoid contract cheating

The Students’ Union website offers information on Academic integrity and contract cheating: the pitfalls of paying someone to do your studies for you.

With the increased response to COVID-19 there has been a notable spike in aggressive contract cheating marketing. To stay aware of what this is and how to avoid it, please familiarise yourself with the definition of contract cheating from the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) by reading our Academic Integrity & Misconduct Policy and Guidance.

Collusion

Collusion involves working together with other students on a piece of work that will be submitted for individual assessment.

This includes via digital channels such as text and email as well as via online platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram etc. (including the sharing of screenshots and photographs).

This is not permitted and can result in an accusation of academic misconduct for all the students involved

How to avoid collusion

The Students' Union offers useful general advice, guidance and support including information on  ‘Collaboration vs Collusion’.

Plagiarism

Plagiarism is defined as use of intellectual material produced by another person without acknowledging its source, for example:

  • Wholesale copying of passages from works of others without acknowledgment.
  • Use of the views, opinions, or insights of another without acknowledgment.
  • Submitting an assignment prepared by another student as your own

Self-Plagiarism:

It is possible to plagiarise yourself by re-using work you have previously submitted* without acknowledgement.

If you do re-use work from a previous assignment, this should not normally be more than a short quotation, as the same work cannot be submitted for different assignments.

*This does not include any re-submissions of work for the same assignment which have been approved by your lecturer/tutor.

Essay Mills

Essay Mills are businesses that allow customers to commission an original piece of writing on a particular topic so that they may commit academic fraud. Essay Mills make supposed promises about the standard of work that is commissioned and charge money per page/number of words.

How they work

Customers provide the company with specific information about the essay, including: a page length, a general topic, and a time frame with which to work. The customer is then charged a certain amount of money per page/per number of words.

They try to profit from the anxiety students may face because of the pandemic. They rely on exploitation and aggressive marketing and may reach out to you in a number of different ways including:

  1. Reaching students at the right time: Essay Mills understand that students feel the greatest pressure at the middle and end of their terms. These businesses have learned that a student with a looming deadline is more likely be tempted to commit contract cheating. Essay writing businesses target students with advertising and discounts on a specific schedule. Vulnerable students at the end of a stressful term are likely to receive a well-timed email or pop-up ad to order an assignment “just in time”.
  2. Shopping around: Essay Mills have also started crafting entire networks of potential essay sites to give students the sense that they are shopping for the “best match” when really there is one master essay business at the core.
  3. Offering a “professional” and personalised experience: The overall interaction between students and Essay Mills often feels like a business transaction.

These businesses strive to provide a “professional” experience for students in order to disguise their nefarious intentions.

Some essay mill sites have even gone as far as to post the logos of top universities on their websites without permission, claiming that “students from these institutions buy their essays from us!”

  1. Following up with perseverance: The more they can develop an ongoing relationship, the more assignments they will pressure you into buying. The price of purchasing a short essay, can often reach a staggering £800, with the cost for dissertations reaching into the thousands. After a business has your contact information (often requested whether something is purchased or not) they will relentlessly contact you via email, text and social media at key points in the academic year and most often during exams.

How to avoid Essay Mills

What to do if you receive threats

The moment someone starts threatening you in an attempt to get a demand met or financial gain, that’s blackmail and it is a very serious crime. Essay Mills demand payment and have been known to blackmail students who cannot afford to pay for services they have used, those who have ordered a purchase and have changed their minds and those who may challenge any hidden costs to their purchase or the standard of the work provided to them (often work provided is not of the standard promised or original as guaranteed).

Know examples of this include, demands made with menaces, such as “pay us or we will inform your institution” and unwarranted demands, such as “we are entitled to the money”.

If, you have used an Essay Mill and find yourself being blackmailed, you should:

  1. not pay any money
  2. stop all contact
  3. keep all the evidence
  4. seek help (report it to the Police, talk to someone you trust, contact Victim Support on 0808 16 89 111)

In line with other countries, a Bill is currently going through Parliament which seeks to illegalise Essay Mills in Britain.

For more definitions of types of Academic Misconduct please see Appendix 1 of our Academic Integrity & Misconduct Guidance.

Useful resources

  • The Academic Learning Support Team has put together lots of helpful tips and information for moving to studying online, which you can find here.
  • You can find further information about study skills and revision here.
  • Library Services have created some guidance for citing and referencing your work correctly, which you can access via their website.

The Students' Union offers useful general advice, guidance and support. The Union Advice service is independent from the University and they can:

  • Explain the academic misconduct regulations and process.
  • Advise you on responding to the allegations.
  • Advise on how to put together a statement to respond to the allegations.
  • Accompany you to meetings or panels with your School.
  • Provide ongoing advice throughout the process.

If you need any further support throughout your assessments and studies, please also remember that staff in your School and in our Student Support Services are here for you.