The University of Western Australia
This policy is intended to assist faculty and other staff in teaching and supervision roles to understand the academic conduct expected of students. It promotes ethical scholarship, academic literacy and encourages academic integrity. The University believes that success in promoting ethical scholarship and developing skills in academic literacy is crucial to fostering an institutional culture of academic integrity.
Ethical Scholarship entails the pursuit of scholarly enquiry marked by honesty and integrity. It is reflected both in individual and group approaches to study and assessment tasks, and is part of a broader institutional commitment to maintain and extend robust, defensible and transparent educational standards and practices.
Academic Literacy may be defined as the capacity to undertake study and research, and to communicate findings and knowledge, in a manner appropriate to the particular disciplinary conventions and scholarly standards expected at university level.
Academic Integrity is a core value of education and involves acting with the principles of honesty, trust, fairness, and responsibility in learning, teaching and research, and requires respect for knowledge and its development.
Breach of Academic Conduct is any activity or practice engaged in by a student that compromises academic integrity.
Levels of breaches of Academic Conduct relate to the severity of the breach and are defined as Minor Breach of Academic Conduct (Level 1); Moderate Breach of Academic Conduct (Level 2); and Major Breach of Academic Conduct (Level 3).
Academic Conduct Advisor (ACA) is the staff member within each faculty tasked with managing the implementation and procedural aspects of the policy. Roles include monitoring the levels of reported breaches of academic conduct within faculty; liaising with ACAs from other faculties at least twice yearly at meetings convened by the Dean of Coursework studies; and providing relevant information and advice to staff in relation to this policy.
Sharing of course material is the practice of distributing or providing access to University course material outside of the University's Learning Management System (LMS), and to those who do not have access to LMS, without explicitly obtaining the permission of the copyright owners (either the University, or UWA staff owning the copyright in the course material they create, or third-party owners, where relevant).
Course material include teaching material and subject content created and shared with students through University's Learning Management System (LMS) and other means (e.g. lecture notes, Power-Point presentations, examination papers marking rubrics). It also includes scholarly information resources such as books, e-books, manuscripts, journal articles, and other print and electronic scholarly material.
1.1 This policy is underpinned by the following principles:
2.1 Breaches of academic conduct include, but are not limited to:
(a) irresponsible, unethical and disrespectful behaviours by sharing copyright course material that may enable academic misconduct by another student.
(b) violation of explicit guidelines relating to the production of work for assessment, in a manner that compromises or defeats the purpose of that assessment. Activities that undermine the ethos of ethical scholarship in such a manner include, but are not limited to, the following:
(ii) inappropriate collaboration;
(iv) misrepresenting or fabricating data or results or other assessable work;
(v) inappropriate electronic data sourcing/collection;
(vi) breaching rules specified for the conduct of examinations in a way that may compromise or defeat the purpose of assessment;
(vii) submitting the work of another person as your own or undertaking work for assessment for another person (ghost writing).
2.2 Staff must adhere to the definitions that have been adopted within the university, and the scope of breach of academic conduct referred to in 2.1, for inclusion in its documents, websites and associated information provided to staff and students.
3.1 Information provided to members of the University regarding breaches of academic conduct, must also refer the reader to relevant information regarding academic literacy and ethical scholarship.
3.2 Furthermore, an ethos of ethical scholarship and academic literacy must be embedded in University policies where appropriate. For example, the University's Strategic Plan and the Charter of Student Rights and responsibilities, and Education Futures, amongst others.
4.1 Penalties for breaches of academic conduct relating to sharing of copyright course material, for both undergraduate and postgraduate students, are determined in accordance with Statute 17: Student Discipline.
4.2 The penalty for students who engage in the activity of sharing copyright course material:
(a) as a first time offender, typically results in suspension for up to a year;
(b) as a repeated offender, typically results in the termination/expulsion of their enrolment.
4.3 UWA graduates who engage in the activity of sharing copyright course material in any part of the world are in breach of the Copyright Act.
Severity of breaches of academic conduct at UWA, for both undergraduate and postgraduate students, must be defined according to a system of three levels, as follows:
5.1 Level 1: Minor Breach of Academic Conduct
5.1.1 Breaches are deemed MINOR where the activity may be reasonably judged to result from careless practices and/or neglect of specific guidelines relating to assessment requirements by students, whose outcome compromises the purpose of an assessment to a limited extent only.
5.1.2 The activity does not include relatively trivial breaches by an entry level student in their first 24 points of study in a course, which in the opinion of the relevant unit coordinator may routinely occur in the course of learning the techniques, methodologies and presentation conventions within an area or discipline.
5.1.3 Instances of Level 1 minor breaches may arise most often, although not exclusively, in relation to first year undergraduate student assessment items. Examples of minor breaches may include but are not limited to:
5.2 Level 2: Moderate Breach of Academic Conduct
5.2.1 Breaches are deemed MODERATE where the activity may be reasonably judged to be a moderate breach of ethical scholarship and includes (but is not limited to):
5.3 Level 3: Major Breach of Academic Conduct
5.3.1 Breaches are deemed MAJOR where the activity may be reasonably judged to be a serious and substantial breach of ethical scholarship and includes (but is not limited to):
(a) bringing in and/or referring to unauthorised material in an examination, including (but not limited to) written notes, formulae or other prompts whether stored on or within some object or device, or on paper or on the student's body;
(b) communicating (or attempting to communicate) in an unauthorised manner with others during examinations (whether by speaking or other means);
(c) reading (or attempting to read) the work of other examinees during the exam;
(d) engaging in or agreeing to any act of imposture whereby an enrolled examinee's examination is undertaken by another who assumes their identity.
The following framework of academic counselling of students, and academic misconduct penalties and associated warnings, must be used as a standard guide within all faculties and teaching/supervision units, in cases of breaches of academic conduct (NB: This framework takes into account the scope of the proven breach, the level of experience of a student, and any previous reported instances. It must be noted that particular emphasis upon educational counselling is provided for students in their first 48 points of study in a course, and that a 'fair warning'/further counselling principle is embedded in all levels. Levels, penalties, and counselling procedures are summarised in the flow charts of Proposed Levels, Penalties and Procedures in Cases of Academic Misconduct):
6.1 Level 1: Minor Breach of Academic Conduct
6.1.1 Students in their first 48 points of undergraduate study within a course at UWA
126.96.36.199 Level 1, First instance
For a first instance in the first 48 points of a student's study in a course at UWA, no grading penalty is applied. A student usually is given the opportunity to revise and resubmit the assessment if practicable, and counselled by academic staff about the nature of the academic misconduct and positive strategies for its future avoidance, by way of a ' Notice of Academic Counselling'. Resubmitted work is be marked employing the usual scale of assessment in that unit. If the opportunity to revise and resubmit the assessment is not practicable, then the student is required to undertake a similar assessment for marking purposes.
188.8.131.52 Level 1, Second instance
For a second instance in the first 48 points of a student's study in a course at UWA, marks are deducted consistent with the level of the breach. The student is not usually be provided with the opportunity to revise and resubmit.
184.108.40.206 Level 1, Third instance
For a third instance in the first 48 points in a student's study in a course, the student is usually be given zero marks for the relevant assessment.
6.1.2 Students who have completed 48 points of undergraduate study in a course at UWA, and postgraduate students:
220.127.116.11 Level 1, First instance
For a first instance after completion of 48 points of study within a course at UWA, marks are deducted consistent with the level of the academic conduct breach. The student is not usually provided with the opportunity to revise and resubmit.
18.104.22.168 Level 1, Second instance
For a second instance after completion of 48 points of study within a course at UWA, the student is given zero for the assessment, and warned that further breaches of academic conduct is referred to the Dean of Faculty/Dean of Graduate Research and Postdoctoral Training as appropriate.
22.214.171.124 Level 1, Third instance
For a third instance after completion of 48 points of study within a course at UWA, a zero grade is applied to the assessment, and the case is referred to the Dean of the Faculty/Dean of Graduate Research and Postdoctoral Training (as appropriate) for an official warning that, in the case of any subsequent breaches within the course, a grade of N-Fail may be expected to be applied to the unit in which the breach occurs. The student is also advised that receiving an N-Fail may lead to penalties for unsatisfactory progress.
6.2 Level 2: Moderate Breach of Academic Conduct
6.2.1 Level 2, First instance
126.96.36.199 Students in their first 24 points of study within a course at UWA
6.2.2 Level 2, First instance
188.8.131.52 Students in their second 24 points of study within a course at UWA
6.2.3 Level 2, First instance
184.108.40.206 Students who have completed 48 points of study in a course at UWA, and postgraduate students
A mark of zero is awarded for the item of assessment. Counselling is provided by the Head of School or Faculty Academic Conduct Advisor, and/or referral to other support services for advice about academic literacy.
6.2.4 Level 2, Second instance
220.127.116.11 All students
For a second instance at Level 2, students are usually awarded the grade N-Fail for the unit in which the breach has occurred, and are warned that subsequent Level 2 breaches are referred to the Dean of the Faculty/Dean of Graduate Research and Postdoctoral Training (as appropriate) and may result in the award of the grade N-Fail for all other units concurrently enrolled within the Faculty. The student is also be advised that receiving an N-Fail may lead to penalties for unsatisfactory progress (see Student Rules: Rule 35).
6.2.5 Level 2, Third instance
18.104.22.168 All students
For a third instance at Level 2, students are usually be awarded the grade N-Fail for the unit, and be referred to the Dean of the Faculty/Dean of Graduate Research and Postdoctoral Training (as appropriate) who usually awards the grade N-Fail for all units in which the student is concurrently enrolled within the Faculty. The student is also be advised that receiving an N-Fail for one or more units may lead to penalties for unsatisfactory progress (see Student Rules: Rule 35).
6.3 Level 3: Major Academic Misconduct
6.3.1 Level 3, First instance
22.214.171.124 All students
For a first instance at Level 3, students are usually awarded the grade N-Fail for the unit in which the academic misconduct has occurred, and are warned that further breaches are referred to the Dean of the Faculty/Dean of Graduate Research and Postdoctoral Training (as appropriate) and may result in the award of the grade N-Fail for all other units concurrently enrolled within the Faculty. The student is also be advised that receiving an N-Fail may lead to penalties for unsatisfactory progress (see Student Rules: Rule 35).
6.3.2 Level 3, Second instance
126.96.36.199 All students
For a second instance at Level 3, students are usually awarded the grade N-Fail for the unit in which the breach has occurred, and are referred to the Dean of the Faculty/Dean of Graduate Research and Postdoctoral Training (as appropriate) who typically applies the grade N-Fail for all other units in which the student is concurrently enrolled within the Faculty. The student is also be advised that receiving an N-Fail for one or more units may lead to penalties for unsatisfactory progress (see Student Rules: Rule 35).
6.3.3 Level 3, Third instance
188.8.131.52 All students
For a third instance at level 3, students are usually awarded the grade N-Fail for the unit in which the breach has occurred, and are referred to the Dean of the Faculty/Dean of Graduate Research and Postdoctoral Training (as appropriate) who typically applies the grade N-Fail for all other units in which the student is concurrently enrolled within the Faculty. The student is also advised that receiving an N-Fail in one or more units may lead to penalties for unsatisfactory progress (see Student Rules: Rule 35). However, in addition, the Dean may under the Regulations for Student Conduct and Discipline recommend to the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor that a student be excluded from enrolment in all courses or units offered by the University for a period of up to one academic year or that a student's current enrolment in any course or unit offered by the University be cancelled. Instances beyond a third breach at Level 3 may result in referral to a Board of Discipline and consequent expulsion from the University or non-conferral of a degree, diploma or other award to which the student would otherwise have been entitled
6.4 Order of Breaches of Academic Conduct
6.4.1 Subsequent Instances
If a student who has committed a higher level breach then commits a subsequent breach at a lower level, that subsequent breach is not considered as a first offence. In such cases, the subsequent breach is automatically treated as at least a second breach for that higher level, and attracts the appropriate penalty. For example, a student who has committed Level 2 plagiarism in their first 48 points of study at UWA and has been afforded the opportunity of rewriting and resubmitting their work without penalty on that occasion, would not then be afforded the same opportunity in relation to a subsequent Level 1 instance. Such a subsequent breach would automatically be classified as at least a 2nd level breach, and would result in a deduction of marks consistent with a subsequent breach at that level.
6.4.2 Concurrent Instances
In cases where students submit items for assessment concurrently in different units, and those items are found to exhibit evidence of breach of academic conduct, such collective breaches are, for the purposes of a penalty, treated as a single instance only. Such leniency only occurs if it is clear that the student as a result of a concurrent or near concurrent submission schedule has not been in a position to benefit from remedial counselling, has not previously received counselling for an earlier instance, and is likely to have committed the breaches without intent.
7.1 Similarity detection software is utilised at UWA and may be used to indicate potential breaches related to plagiarism.
7.2 The following scale has been adopted across the University for the purposes of preliminary classification in cases of plagiarism:
This scale has been established on the clear understanding that a final level of breach is determined after consideration of relevant contextual factors (level of study; previous record of academic misconduct; evidence of intent; other mitigating factors). Faculty policies must state clearly that a Head of School or Dean considers such factors in finalising judgement about the level of the plagiarism and the penalty applied in the case.
The percentages relate to the substantive content of the work (i.e. word length excluding properly referenced quotes, and footnotes/endnotes except where plagiarism is contained in the latter). The extent of plagiarism is calculated to include both unattributed verbatim copying; work in which minor amendments have been made to unattributed source material (through substitution, transposition or exclusion of words); and the close paraphrase of the words and/or specific ideas of another person.
7.3 In relation to forms other than written assessment, such as visual and digital media, computer codes, musical composition and performance, and oral presentations, an estimate of the level of seriousness is made in relation to the extent to which the plagiarism breaches the intention of the assessment and the guidelines provided for that assessment item (see Plagiarism).
8.1 In the process of determining the severity of the breach of academic conduct that has occurred and the appropriate penalty to be applied once a case has been established, Heads of School and Deans may take into account one or more mitigating circumstances that are deemed to bear upon the case.
8.2 Such factors may include, but not be limited to:
The following principles are to be observed in all cases of alleged breaches:
9.1 Cases of alleged and established breaches of academic conduct must be treated confidentially by staff. Discussion of cases must be limited to those who have a direct line of procedural responsibility in such matters (the relevant unit coordinator, Head of School, School Academic Conduct Adviser, Faculty Academic Conduct Adviser, Pro Vice-Chancellor & Executive Dean and those officers of the University beyond the faculty who are responsible for overseeing procedures, as set out in Schedule 1, relating to breaches academic conduct).
9.2 Lines of responsibility for investigating cases of a suspected breach must be rigorously adhered to in all faculties and teaching/supervision sections of the University (see "Procedural responsibilities in the handling of alleged academic misconduct" in Schedule 1). The only exceptions to the principles of face-to-face interview protocols, timely handling, and lines of responsibility in determining levels and penalties, may occur in the instance of transnational programs where distance factors may demand alternative arrangements. This may include, for example, the delegation of Head of School authority to an appropriately trained senior staff member who co-ordinates and teaches within such programs. Any envisaged variation to these procedures, as set out in Schedule 1, in relation to existing transnational programs must conform as closely as possible to the policy, and those arrangements communicated to students. Variations to procedures in any proposal for future transnational programs must be clearly stated, to be included for consideration as part of the normal approval processes for such programs.
9.3 Unit coordinators must advise students that they are suspected of committing academic misconduct no later than when assessment items are returned to other students. This advice must be confidential and coupled with procedural information so that the student understands what occurs next.
9.4 Established protocols for recording academic misconduct must be adhered to in all faculties and teaching/supervision units of the University.
In relation to procedures for appeal against findings of academic misconduct, and/or the penalty imposed in such cases, the existing 'Regulations for Student Conduct and Discipline - Section 19: Appeals', details a student's right of appeal against a decision of a staff member via written appeal within ten University working days of notification to the next most senior staff member or body under academic misconduct procedures.
1. Recording Procedures in Cases of Academic Misconduct
The following procedures for the generation and keeping of confidential records relating to academic misconduct must be followed centrally, as well as within all faculties and teaching and supervision units at UWA (see ' Academic Misconduct Investigation and Recording Misconduct')
1.1 that all faculties, teaching and supervision units at UWA utilise (downloadable) pro forma documents for recording defined instances of academic misconduct at all levels and in all cases, without exception;
1.3 that relevant proformas be signed after due deliberation, by the relevant Head of School or Dean as appropriate;
1.4 that a copy of the signed pro forma be provided to the student for their records;
1.5 that all signed proformas be sent to a school/faculty's Academic Conduct Adviser (where relevant), who enters the relevant notation and information as it appears on the pro forma on a confidential student record, such record not to appear upon a student's academic transcript;
1.6 that the Academic Conduct Adviser send all paper copies of notices to Central Records for confidential safekeeping;
1.7 that access to a student's confidential record be generally restricted to those University staff members and officers who are nominated under the University's guidelines as being directly responsible for:
(i) decisions relating to the formulation of appropriate penalties;
(ii) the oversight of an appeal against an academic misconduct penalty;
(iii) the re-admission of a student after a period of exclusion;
(iv) the collation and reporting of de-identified data relating to academic misconduct for the purposes of centralised monitoring and planning.
(v) external reporting, where necessary.
2. Use of Signed Coversheets/Declarations or Electronic Submissions
2.1 All individual essays and other written work submitted for assessment by a student at UWA must be accompanied by a coversheet declaring that the student is aware of the existence of the policy relating to academic misconduct, that the work is their own, that it complies with the guidelines for assessment for that assessment item, and acknowledges that the work may be electronically scanned for detection of plagiarism.
2.2 The signed coversheet may take the form of using the available form (see Attachment A) or an electronic submission process designed by individual faculties.
2.2 For group assessments which are accompanied by a coversheet (see Attachment A) or an electronic submission process designed by individual faculties) each group member must sign and declare that they are aware of the existence of the policy relating to academic misconduct, that their contribution to the group product has been their own work, that they have complied with the guidelines for assessment for that assessment item, and acknowledge that the work may be electronically scanned for detection of plagiarism.
3. Procedural Responsibilities in the Handling of Alleged Academic Misconduct
It is advisable that the responsibilities, set out in Schedule 1, be adhered to within all faculties and teaching/supervision units of the University in the handling of alleged cases of academic misconduct.
4. Recording Procedures within Faculties
The following procedures for the generation and keeping of records relating to academic misconduct must be established, and adhered to by all faculties and teaching and supervision units at UWA:
4.1 Level 1, first 48 points of study, first instance
4.1.1 These instances must be recorded by the relevant unit coordinator on a proforma document entitled ' Notice of Academic Counselling' to best emphasise the positive educational orientation of UWA's approach. A copy of the document is retained by the unit coordinator after discussion with the student. A copy of the document is also provided to the student who is asked to acknowledge its receipt.
4.1.2 The ' Notice of Academic Counselling' is then forwarded by the unit coordinator to the Faculty's Academic Conduct Adviser, who ensures that the document's details are entered on a student's central confidential record.
4.1.3 Such recording is not intended to be punitive: it is, however, provide an efficient basis for academic staff to identify students who continue to engage in academic misconduct. Such records are also, in de-identified aggregate, provide faculty-wide information against which to assess the ongoing effectiveness of educational strategies to diminish minor misconduct.
4.2 All Other levels
4.2.1 Outcomes of cases must be recorded by all decision-makers at the School and faculty levels on the relevant proforma documents pertaining to the level of academic misconduct that have been established. Copies of the document are provided to the student, and to the Faculty's Academic Conduct Adviser to arrange recording of the document's details on a student's confidential electronic record indicating the level and penalty imposed.
(i) Faculties and other teaching and supervision units must ensure that information relating to appeals cites the correct set of appeal procedures relating to such cases. The relevant appeal regulations are those contained in 'Regulations for Student Conduct and Discipline' section 19: the mechanisms for 'Appeals process in the case where there is dissatisfaction with an assessment result and/or progress status' do not pertain in such cases, and must not be used.
(ii) Any notification of a finding of academic misconduct to a student must include clear information regarding their rights of appeal, the process to be followed and the relevant time limits relating to notification of an appeal if such an option is to be pursued.
(iii) Within the context of an interview with the student by a Head of School, Academic Conduct Adviser or PVC & Exec Dean, a student's right of appeal must be reiterated.
(iv) Faculty websites, handbooks and other information relating to academic misconduct provided to students and staff must include information relating to right of appeal.
(v) In the event of a successful appeal leading to dismissal of a finding, a student's confidential electronic record must be amended to remove any reference to the original finding and/or penalty in the case, and relevant paperwork associated with the case and the appeal stored securely in central records. In the event that an appeal results in the modification of a finding and/or a penalty, a student's electronic record must be amended to remove the original finding and to reflect the modified finding and/or penalty only. The relevant paperwork associated with the case and the appeal must be transmitted to central records for secure storage.
6. Specific Faculty Definitions and Use of Levels
6.1 All faculties and teaching/supervision units at UWA must put in context the common definition of academic misconduct, using the Level 1 (Minor)/2 (Moderate)/3 (Major) framework, and emphasise those elements of academic misconduct of particular relevance to teaching and learning in the faculty.
6.2 In particular, faculties must provide to students upon enrolment, via faculty and other relevant websites and printed material, specific information including:
(i) clear definitions that best reflect the principle concerns within any faculty regarding academic misconduct, including local definitions of plagiarism, group work protocols, open book examination protocols and/or appropriate laboratory/research procedures;
(ii) a guide about the quantity of plagiarism within an assessment that equates to preliminary findings of Level 1 ('minor'), Level 2 ('moderate) and Level 3 ('major') misconduct, set at less than 10%, 10-25%, and more than 25%,respectively; and that close paraphrase and 'cut and paste' techniques are encompassed by the policy;
(iii) advice to students:
(a) regarding the avenues of guidance they may seek to improve their understanding of both academic literacy and academic misconduct (tutors, lecturers, student service advisers, online programs such as those provided by the library);
(b) that they must inform themselves about any more detailed individual assessment item guidelines that are provided within unit guides and/or Assessment Mechanism Statements;
(c) directly or via links to other relevant support material to assist them to develop appropriate skills in note-taking, writing and referencing, to meet faculty standards;
(d) concerning the approaches to group work used within the faculty, including assessment and the handling of suspected misconduct within items submitted by a group for assessment;
(e) about the avenues of support within the faculty through which further advice concerning plagiarism and its avoidance may be gained;
(f) about the scope of sources to which plagiarism policy may relate, including visual, digital, musical and other media forms, and computer codes;
(g) about appropriate local referencing conventions;
(h) that they must read and sign an appropriate declaration or coversheet to be attached to each item of assessment within a unit;
(i) concerning procedures in the investigation of academic misconduct;
(j) concerning penalties for established cases of misconduct at different levels;
(k) that qualitative factors are also be used in finalising judgments relating to seriousness of plagiarism;
(l) that all cases of established misconduct are centrally recorded as part of a confidential record, such record not to appear on a student's official academic transcript;
(m) concerning their rights and responsibilities in relation to appeal mechanisms in cases of academic misconduct, and the availability of advice in such instances from the Guild Education Office;
(n) about protocols for transnational students, ensuring that principles and practices conform to University policy.
6.3 All Faculty guidelines must be made available in electronic form and facilitate a direct link to the central website regarding academic misconduct, for ease of use by students and staff.
Information in Unit Outlines and Assessment Guides
7.1 Within unit outlines and/or Assessment Mechanism Statements, unit coordinators must direct students to relevant academic misconduct (including plagiarism) policies, associated penalties and appeal information for the faculty in which the unit is offered.
7.2 Information to students relating to any individual item of assessment must be included either in the unit outline, or in detailed assessment instructions, and must include explicit guidelines to clarify:
(i) the extent, if any, of permissible collaboration (group discussion; and/or collaborative research; and/or sharing of notes; and/or collaborative writing);
(ii) in the case of group work where it constitutes part of unit assessment, an instruction for students to retain such items as research notes and a record of their individual input, and any further measures to ensure accountability, that may later be called upon in the investigation of cases of suspected academic misconduct (see ' Group Work').
TRIM File No:
Related Policies or legislation:
This policy must be considered within the context of:
• Student Rules: Rule 35 - Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory Progress in Academic Performance
• Procedures for Dealing with Allegations of Research Misconduct contained in the University Policy on: Code of Conduct for the Responsible Practice of Research
• Additional explanatory information for academic staff and student advisors, see Q & A