Copying is where a student acts in such a way as to seek to gain unfair advantage or assist another student to do so.
Copying can include:
- submitting an assessment task which the student has copied from another person
- submitting the same, or a substantially similar, piece of work for assessment in two different courses (except in accordance with approved study and assessment schemes)
- completing an assessment task outside the conditions specified for that task
In copying both the student who copies work and the student who originally shared it can be found to have breached the academic integrity policy. When a student shares an assessment task with another student it could give that student an unfair advantage over other students, even if they didn’t realise that the student would copy the assessment directly. Copying is different to collusion because the two people involved did not work together.
Case Study (from Semester 1 2020)
Reece (not his real name) is enrolled in a second year course which has written assignment. Reece finishes his assignment early and shares it with some friends who haven’t finished their assignment yet to help them get ideas for how to do their own assignments.
Tamara (not her real name) is also enrolled in the course. She is really struggling with the assignment. One of her friends tells her she has a copy of a completed assignment that Tamara can look which might help. She forwards the assignment to Tamara via email. Tamara is running out of time to finish the assignment so she changes the name on the document to her own name and submits it.
All assignments have to be submitted through Turnitin so that a similarity check can occur. Neither Reece or Tamara does their own check before submitting.
During marking Reece’s assignment was found to have a 77% similarity score which on investigating the Turnitin report was shown to be a match with Tamara’s assignment. The course coordinator suspected that one student must have copied the assignment from the other. The MyUni logs showed that Tamara’s assignment was submitted first.
Neither student had an existing record on the University Academic Integrity Register [link to definitions].
The students were interviewed in separate Academic Integrity Panel meetings. Each claimed that they had written the assignment themselves. Reece explained that he had shared his assignment with some friends in the class, to help them to complete their own. He named these friends, but the names given did not include Tamara. Reece explained to the AIO that he didn’t realise that it was not OK to share assignments with friends. He was really sorry for what had happened.
The Course Coordinator did some further searching in Turnitin and found one name embedded in the original file document for both submitted assignments – Reece’s. This showed that both submitted files had originated from the same computer. Even though Tamara claimed to have written the assignment herself the Course Coordinator concluded that must have written her own name on the Word document when submitting.
Even though Tamara did not get the assignment directly from Reece, it seemed that one of Reece’s friends must have passed the paper on further.
Reece was found to have breached the policy (copying), but due to genuine misunderstanding. Reece received a 10% reduction in possible marks for the assignment and his name was included on the Academic Integrity Register.
Tamara was found to have breached the policy (copying) but with no genuine misunderstanding. Tamara received a mark of zero for the assignment and her name was included on the Academic Integrity Register.